“Spring Break” has become synonymous with partying, boozing, and having a wild week off from school. For many students, however, this is not the ideal way to get away from the grind. Skip the hangover and do something both fun and productive—you know, something that you’ll actually remember the next day. You can use your time off to make meaningful memories, lasting friendships, and a definitely difference. Have a blast and get some good resume-building experience on the side! Here are some great volunteer trips, primarily from Projects Abroad, that you can take during spring break this year.
Building Trip in Jamaica
You don’t need any experience or special skills to take part in this Jamaican volunteer trip! Building homes and other structures requires many different types of work, and few things involve prior training. If you’ve never done a volunteer trip before, this is a great place to start! While you’re there, you’ll get to rebuild homes damaged by disasters and help families who can’t afford to fix up their dilapidated houses. You’ll also get to build toilet facilities for children in schools that don’t have sanitary bathrooms. During the process, you’ll get to make new friends, mingle with the locals, and learn about the culture of beautiful Jamaica! At the end, you’ll get a trip to the beach.
Childcare in Argentina
Give some kindness and compassion to underserved kindergarteners in Argentina! Many children there do not have the same opportunities as children in more developed countries. You can bring some joy and fun into their lives when you play with the kids, introduce creativity, help with maintenance, and encourage the teachers. When it’s time to say goodbye, enjoy a delicious barbeque, Argentinian-style!
Conservation in Mexico
This trip is perfect for students majoring in environmental sciences, but anyone is welcome to come and have fun while helping the ecosystem thrive! You’ll get to focus on turtles, especially their eggs and hatchlings. If you’re lucky enough to be there when the babies hatch, you can help them find their way to the sea. You’ll also get to participate in taking care of crocodiles and other creatures. A volleyball game and a barbeque at the end will round off your perfect spring break in the great outdoors.
Public Health in Ghana
Even if you don’t know which way a blood pressure cuff goes (join the club), you can help underdeveloped communities in Ghana get healthy and stay healthy! This project focuses on both treatment and prevention. You’ll get to help people who are already struggling with health issues as well as teach community members how to take care of their physical wellbeing. This is a great trip for pre-med students who want to get some awesome experience and a cool item to put on med school applications! During your time in Ghana, you’ll get to interact with your local hosts and take a cultural trip to the coast at the end of the week.
Medical Experience in Argentina
This is probably the most academic of the trips offered by Projects Abroad, but it’s also one of the most exciting. During this trip, you’ll get to shadow actual doctors, take clinical classes, and learn a bit of medical Spanish. Although anyone can go, aspiring healthcare professionals in particular will gain important experience and insight into their chosen career path. Be directly involved with the healthcare process, ask lots of questions, and do some new things! You’ll get to stay with a local host family and have some free time to explore at your leisure. You’ll even get to learn to tango!
Amazon Wildlife Survey
Interested in preserving the environment? Join scientists with Earth Watch aboard a refurbished riverboat to survey and observe wildlife in the pristine Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Work with the local Cocama people to develop conservation strategies to support this flooded Amazon forest in the Samiria River basin.
Create a Community Garden in Tennessee
The United Way offers alternative Spring Break opportunities closer to home, including working with residents in subsidized housing in Williamson County to provide renewable sources of healthy, fresh food. Volunteers will work with local farmers the UT Extension service to create raised beds and gardens as well as teaching participants in the Boys and Girls Club about healthy eating.
Break a Difference
For a less exotic but equally important Alternative Spring Break option, volunteer for service in the United States. Breakadifference.org partners with local non-profit groups to provide volunteers to help with services for the homeless, community gardens, rebuilding and repair projects, restoration of parks, support for military families, after school programs and more. Cities targeted include Baltimore, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Ft. Hood. Program fees are much lower than many others but include modest housing and simple meals. Volunteers also have free time to explore the local attractions.
Create a Local Volunteer Staycation
It’s important to understand that these volunteer programs have fees to participate. Lodging, meals, transportation, and administration all cost money. However, the program fees are generally reasonable and are even tax deductible for some programs like Global Volunteers. If the costs of these programs aren’t in your budget, consider volunteering locally. You can find all sorts of opportunities, from the Boys and Girls Club to Habitat for Humanity to community gardens that will welcome the efforts of you and your friends. VolunteerMatch.org can help you find an organization that fits with your interests and talents.
Why not take a volunteer trip this year? There really is nothing to regret about a week spent helping the world become a better place. No matter what you love to do, you can find a way to do it in as a volunteer in an alternative Spring Break program this semester. Recharge your soul and your mind with meaningful experiences before you go back to hit the books. You only get a handful of college spring breaks in your life, so make this one count!