BG Alternative Breaks (bGAB)

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Spring Break Sign-Ups

Individuals cam come into the Center For Community and Civic Engagement (100 University Hall) to sign up for a spring break trip starting November 6th.  

In order to reserve your spot, there is a non-refundable down payment of $50 that can be made by credit/debit card only in the CCCE Mon-Fri 8am-5pm. This amount is included in the total trip cost, which covers housing, transportation, food, and service fees for the trip.

Living Lands and Waters was established in 1998 by Chad Pregracke with the goal to clean up the nation’s major waterways. Their mission: to aid in the protection, preservation, and restoration of the natural environment of the nation’s major rivers and their watersheds, expand awareness around environmental issues and responsibility encompassing the river, and create a desire and an opportunity for stewardship and responsibility for a cleaner river environment. The Living Lands and Waters organization spends up to nine months out of the year traveling by barge to host river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings, and many other conservation efforts. This spring break Living Lands and Waters will be taking their efforts to Grafton, Illinois to partake in river clean up and honeysuckle removal along the Mississippi River and state park restoration at Pere Marquette State Park. 

Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm is a rustic permaculture farmstead that focuses on growing and sustaining all of their own food and energy. The farm offers teaching and learning experiences to honor the earth and create community. Located within the Appalachian Mountains, this farm is completely off the grid and hopes to help participants "connect with nature and grow into stronger community members, ultimately strengthening our communities to live abundantly." This trip will focus on learning ways to better interact with the Earth through more sustainable practices while also learning about community building and environmental stewardship.

The national conversation about refugees as of late has largely been fearful and dehumanizing. A number of travel bans have sought to close the U.S. to refugees entirely, claiming that they bring terrorism. In reality, refugees are fleeing conflict and persecution and are surviving against incredible odds. On this trip, we will join the International Rescue committee in their resettlement efforts in Richmond, VA, to resettle, employ, integrate, and educate refugees. Participants will work with refugees firsthand, learning their stories and helping them succeed in America.

“Mountains. Foothills. Rivers. Farms. For Nature and People. Forever.” This motto is what the Carolina Mountain Land and Pacolet Area Conservancies in Hendersonville, North Carolina revolve around. Conserving Carolina was made by these two organizations to help conserve the lands and natural resources of the Carolina Mountains. This trip will serve to aid the cause by engaging in service which includes: habitat restoration work, trail work, and a concentrated effort in improving the upkeep of the area.


So What is an Alternative Break?

An Alternative Break is an alternative to going to the beach or relaxing during academic breaks and instead, devoting your time to volunteering for a community partner. It is during this experience that participants will engage in meaningful reflection, service and education about the social issue in which their trip is focused. Participants will have the opportunity to learn and appreciate new cultural perspectives about the issue of focus based on the interactions with people in the communities we serve. Participants will also be able to connect with their peers on the trip to develop meaningful friendships. Ultimately, participants will be empowered to become active citizens in their community and beyond.

Tell Me More about bGAB

BG Alternative Breaks (bGAB) is a student-led program within the Center for Community and Civic Engagement that prepares groups of students to collaborate with communities experiencing social injustices by learning about, providing direct service for, and reflecting on a specific social issue during BGSU academic breaks. Trips currently go out during fall and spring breaks.

bGAB was founded in 2013 by Maddi Georgoff, a BGSU alumnus (2015). She attended a Break Away Citizenship School and forever committed to fulfilling the goals of the alternative break movement! Our first trip went out during fall break in 2013 to Detroit, Michigan. Maddi was integral to the process of recruiting students who wanted to impact communities during alternative breaks, and was successful in leading the organization for two years before her graduation. She created a thriving student-led alternative break program that has garnered institituion-wide notice and praise. Since 2013, bGAB has sent out 226 students on 18 trips and dedicated 6,100 hours of direct service to community partners.

Alternative breaks provide BGSU students with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of their service and work with the community to create positive change and stimulate meaningful dialogues about the issues communities are facing.

bGAB also offers invaluable leadership opportunities.  Executive Board positions and Site Leader positions are the next step in the quest to get more involved with this organization.  Executive Board members and Site Leaders for 2017-2018 acaedmic year have already been selected.  Recruitment for 2018 Fall and Spring Break Site Leaders will begin in March 2018 in addition to recruitment for 2018-2019 Executive Board.

All members of the leadership team receive training, and in return are equipped with the skills to faciltate trainings, pre-trip meetings, and plan and implement service trips and other events related to organization.

Learn about the leadership team and the positions

Visit our facebook page and twitter to see the progress of past trips and learn about participant experiences!

Contact Info: If you have further questions please contact our executive board at bgab@bgsu.edu


MISSION

Through direct service, education, and reflection, BG Alternative Breaks strives to address community identified needs while empowering students to become active global citizens.

VISION

bGAB envisions a world without injustice.


How are the Trips Run?

As a chapter member of Break Away, "a national organization that promotes the development of quality alternative break programs through training, assisting, and connecting campuses and communities," we model our trips after Break Away's foundational values.  The building blocks of an alternative break are the Active Citizenship Continuum, the Triangle of Quality Community Service, and the 8 Components of a Quality Alternative Break. We educate our executive board, site leaders, and trip participants on these foundational values in order to serve as a stepping stone to a positive and intentional alternative break experience.

Trips are student-led by two site leaders that apply, are chosen by the bGAB executive board, and go through training on the important components of an alternative break, how to plan and implement the trip of their choice, and how to facilitate meaningful reflection.  Components of each trip include 2-3 pre-trip meetings, an all-participant meeting, the trip itself, and post-trip reorientation service/advocacy opportunities and/or meetings. Site Leaders are the main contact for participants concerning anything related to the trip.

One trip advisor (a graduate student or staff/faculty) participates in the trip and helps troubleshoot issues that may come up if the site leaders are unsure of what to do. The trip advisor does not plan or implement the trip, but rather provides guidance and support to the site leaders.

Pre-trip meetings consist of learning about the foundational values of an alternative break, getting to know the community partner(s) for the trip, and becoming educated on the social issue for the trip.  It is important for all trip participants to attend pre-trip meetings in order to get the most out of the trip experience. 

Each trip typically has 2 site leaders, 1 trip advisor (usually a graduate student), and up to 11 participants. The size of the trips allows for the group to build community and create meaningful relationships with community partners.


How Would I Benefit From a bGAB Trip?

AB (Alternative Break) Trips grow every individual differently, however, there are some common benefits. 

  • Gain a Different Perspective: Immerse yourself in and learn about a new culture and experience different lifestyles - in return, many gain a new or different perspective on life.
  • Impact Relevant Social Issues: Learn about current events through your trip's social issue and engage with communities directly affected.
  • Meet New People: Meet new peers and you’ll often leave with a whole group of close friends since you share a common desire for service and social justice.
  • Learn New Skills: Team building, communication, and problem solving are common skills learned on trips, but depending on your trip's focus, you will leave with relevant skills and knowledge to land your future dream job.
  • Personal Growth: AB trips allow us to step outside of our comfort zone and reevaluate our life choices, goals, and general outlook on life.

Read Testimonials from Former bGAB Particpants

  • It was an amazing yet challenging experience and I’ve grown a lot
  • Fantastic opportunity to grow, connect, and discover new things about yourself and the world
  • It’s rewarding and enriching. You see the hard work you put in turn into a positive result/outcome. Plus, you make lasting friendships
  • The mixture of a passionate community, beautiful environment, and important work created the best week of my life on the bGAB trip!
  • bGAB is a life changing experience in which one learned more about the community, social issues, themselves, and fellow BGSU students. It is a “week on, not a week off,” of school.
  • This trip is not only a service trip, it is about creating a sense of community not only with other BG students you wouldn’t necessarily come in contact with, but with the community partner. It also is a great way to learn about yourself, social issues, and providing meaningful service.
  • The experiences you’ll have are amazing and it’s a great way to learn more about social justice issues and meet other  awesome people
  • This week was one of the best I’ve ever had – the trip was so rewarding, I learned a lot and had a ton of fun, and met an amazing group of people. This was way better than any other spring break trip.
  • New analysis of service and working with all identities/experience within your circles
  • I learned how to open my eyes to new experiences and not judge people right away   
  • Overcoming any uncomfortableness and opening myself up more within a group of people
  • Knowledge and experience with invasive species and a new found passion for the intersectionality of social issues
  • I feel more inclined to open up and share experiences with people even though we have different backgrounds
  • A proclivity for trying new things and being adaptive
  • Being less judgmental, being more grateful of the things I have
  • I learned a lot about how to learn from multiple perspectives on an issue and that there is always more to learn!
  • Seeing growth within myself, personality wise; making incredible friends; and I did something positive to help out people and the community

Frequently Asked Questions      

Trips are sent during fall and spring breaks of the academic year.

In 2017-2018 there will be four trips during Fall Break (October 7th-10th) and various trips during Spring Break (March 3rd-10th).

There are two undergraduate students who are site leaders for the trips. All site leaders have been on a trip before and have gone through extensive training based on training materials available through the national organization, Break Away. There is also a graduate student, called a trip advisor, that goes on every trip for an extra measure of security for the trip, should the site leaders get 'stuck.'

Community service projects during trips depend on the needs of the community partner organization. Common projects include cleaning, organizing, and data input.  Other trips have demolished buildings, helped rebuild housing, removed invasive plants, cooked and served meals, made products for the community partner to sell, and interacted with individuals that use services at a community organization. We do our best to meet the specific needs of community partners, and sometimes that means doing behind the scenes work so full time staff members are able to do more meaningful work on the front end. It is important to realize that even though you may not be doing the exciting work, you are making a difference!

Service projects usually take place all day (9am-5pm), and then there may be free time and/or time for site seeing in the evening hours.  Reflection, a critical component of an alternative break, takes place in the evening as well.  Typically, because of community partner organization schedules, there may be one full day available for site seeing (usually Sunday) in the area.

Yes, trip fees are determined by length of the trip and costs associated with travel, lodging and meals. Therefore, trip fees change from trip to trip. Our fall break trips in 2017 cost $190, which included transportation, lodging, and meals for 4 days.  Fees for the 2018 spring break trips will be $200, which include transportation, lodging and meals for 7 days. We expect future trips to have similar price points.

Please do not let the trip fee deter you from applying for a BG Alternative Break trip. We believe in the power of fundraising, and we will be implementing fundraising goals to help reduce the cost of the trip for all participants.

Sign-ups are on a "first-come-first-serve" basis. You can sign up and secure your spot by stopping by the Center for Community and Civic Engagament in Univeristy Hall 100 and submiting your non-refundable $50 deposit.

Sign-Ups for Fall Break 2017 are open starting August 21st

Sign-Ups for Spring Break 2018 open November 6th 

 

Trips are not planned on the destination, but rather on the social justice issue that the bGAB leadership team chooses to focus on. We strive to build meaningful and long lasting partnerships with community partners and therefore go back to many places to which we have traveled to in the past, but we are also on the lookout to build relationships with new community partners.

Please see more detailed information about past and future trips below.


2017 Fall Break Trips

Help alleviate food insecurity in our region via work with Food Gatherers, and Growing Hope in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan. Food Gatherers mission is to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in the Ann Arbor Community, they operate to serve and provide food to those in need. Growing Hope seeks to empower people to be healthy, create healthy economies, and healthy places in the Ypsilanti community.

Restoring and protecting wetlands in the historic watershed of the Little River, a major tributary of the Wabash River, and engaging with educational opportunities that encourage good stewardship of wetlands and other natural ecosystems.

Working with the Fowler Center, a camp for children, teens, and adults with special physical, cognitive and psychological impairments. The Center works to create a supportive and inclusive environment for their campers that enhances their personal growth and independence.

Participants will be working with three separate community partners including Cass Community Social Services, Auntie Na’s House, and FOCUS: Hope. Throughout the trip participants will learn what it means to put “unity” back in “community” by gaining insight into the story, culture, and people of Detroit.


Past Trips  

Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world and serves as an ecosystem for many important species. We are partnering with the National Parks Service to focus on environmental conservation and natural landscape preservation. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the cave system and embrace a greater environmental identity while supporting the National Parks Service in their preservation efforts.

For this trip, we will be working with the Hiwassee Watershed Coalition in Murphy, North Carolina. The Coalition works to protect lakes, rivers and streams in the area by working with various private land owners and companies to implement projects around the maintenance of water quality. Participants will be working to support these efforts through the removal of invasive species and other environmental hazards.

As of June 2016, there were 21.3 million refugees in the world. As this number continues to grow, the US is accepting an increasing number of refugees. Forced to flee conflict or persecution, many have survived for years against incredible odds.  We will be joining the International Rescue Committee in their resettlement efforts in Richmond, Virginia to resettle, employ, integrate and educate refugees so that they can flourish in their new homes.

Participants will be working with two separate community partners. Cass Community Social Services works across the city in area of concentrated poverty and seeks to provide programs for food, health, housing, and jobs. They are working to provide sustainable services that allow individuals to transition out of homelessness. The second partner for the trip, Motor City Blight Buster, seeks to end blight in the city and transform vacant and/or potentially dangerous neighborhoods in Detroit into positive, community areas. Throughout the trip, participants will gain insight into the story, culture, and people of Detroit and will seek ways to challenge narratives of the city that have been previously perpetuated.

Trip Fee: $190 (estimate: includes transportation, housing, meals, etc.)

Access to food has proven to be a major and complex issue for many Americans. Participants will delve into those complexities by working with Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels. The organization serves older adult populations and seeks to provide secure and nutritious meal options for senior communities. Participants will also have the opportunity to work with Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor, an organization who seeks to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in the local community.

Trip Fee: $190 (estimate: includes transportation, housing, meals, etc.) 

The Pittsburgh Project is a non-profit that supports Pittsburgh residents, especially its youth and older adult populations through a series of programming. On this trip, participants will be working with their neighborhood development programming, restoring and repairing Pittsburgh’s older adult homeowners’ properties. Through this work, participants will find out what it takes to develop and maintain healthy and positive community homes and spaces.

Trip Fee: $190 (estimate: includes transportation, housing, meals, etc.)

Participants will be working with one community partner: The Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining good water quality in streams, lakes, and rivers that flow into the Hiwassee River. The Coalition plans and implements volunteer-powered projects to solve problems before water quality is beyond reasonable recovery. Participants can expect to remove invasive plant species from the area.

Trip Fee: $275 (estimate: includes transportation, housing, meals, etc.)

Participants will be working with one community partner: PAWS Chicago. It is a non-profit organization committed to bringing an end to the killing of homeless cats and dogs. Those who work and volunteer for PAWS tend to the animals' medical and emotional needs, with all eyes focused on finding a loving family. Participants can expect to volunteer at the PAWS Medical Center.  

Trip Fee: $275 (estimate: includes transportation, housing, meals, etc.)

Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm is a rustic permaculture farmstead that attempts to create sustainable regenerative living in all their choices. The farm is completely off the grid!“ Guided by the three ethics of permaculture: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share, Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm envisions a future where we live in harmony with the land and grow and sustain our food and energy.” This trip will focus on learning ways to better interact with the Earth through agricultural practices and restorative forestry methods while also learning about community building and environmental stewardship.

Trip Fee: $275 (estimate: includes transportation, housing, meals, etc.)

Despite a rich history that has shaped parts of the culture of our nation, the Metro Detroit area has experienced the brunt of one of the hardest hitting recessions in American history. Following the fall of the auto industry and a mass flight to the suburbs of Detroit, internal turmoil and external doubt has left many outsiders with the misconception that Detroit is a lost cause. Among the most destructive of its aggressors is the worldwide media, who tends to cast shame on the city rather than supporting solutions and portraying the real life stories of Detroit citizens. bGAB will be working with two community organizations that work to improve the lives of the people who live in Detroit while showing incredible pride for the city they love.

Cass Community Social Services is a Detroit-based agency that works across the city in areas of concentrated poverty, providing programs for food, health, housing, and jobs.Their sustainable philosophy of providing individuals with jobs, thus skills and experience, transcends traditional social services because they are preparing individuals to transition out of homelessness by providing resources and services that support their success.

The Motor City Blight Busters is a grassroots organization that works to end blight and transform vacant and/or potentially dangerous neighborhoods in Detroit into positive, community areas. This group of dedicated Detroit natives has created a movement, redefining the perceptions of Detroit and creating awareness for all that the city has to offer.

Trip Fee: $190

Behind a $4.4 billion tourism industry there lies growing income and poverty disparity in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. Decline in good-paying manufacturing jobs and growth of lower-wage service jobs has led to a 29 percent increase in people living in poverty in Indiana since the year before the Recession. As of 2013, nearly 1 out of every 5 residents live below the poverty line which is nearly double the national rate. In the city of Indianapolis, Latino Americans experience the brunt of this injustice with the highest rates of poverty over every other ethnic group. bGAB will work with an organization in the city who is striving to improve the lives of the citizens of Indianapolis.

Rebuilding the Wall is a non profit organization that stabilizes low-income families by providing the opportunity for home ownership through the renovation of vacant inner city properties. They combat social injustice by "building relationships across racial and socio-economic barriers"; and strive to stabilize the community by recycling resources within their Indianapolis neighborhoods.

Trip Fee: $190

The Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining good water quality in streams, lakes, and rivers that flow into the Hiwassee River. The Coalition plans and implements volunteer-powered projects to solve problems before water quality is beyond reasonable recovery.

Trip Fee: $250 (estimate)

In a world consumed with traditional standards and binary beliefs, many people are often overlooked, mistreated, and ostracized. Poverty and homelessness is perceived negatively in our society, and underserved populations are harmfully stereotyped. Their individuality is trumped by societal attitudes, often leaving them with little to no resources and support. Specifically, folks who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender are increasingly discriminated against and marginalized. bGAB will be working with several organizations that work to empower and understand the complexity of intersecting identities.

Trip Fee: $250 (estimate)

"As female involvement in the juvenile justice system increases, the question 'What about girls?' becomes more and more important." Gwen's Girls works to empower girls and young women to have productive lives through holistic, gender-specific programs, education and experiences. This trip will focus on the ways in which the United States Prison system affects youth and the group will work with Gwen's Girls to provide support and understanding to young girls who are affected by these systems. 

Trip Fee: $250 (estimate)

 

 

"La Casa works in partnership with individuals and community partners to create opportunity for personal growth, family stability and neighborhood improvement. La Casa believes that every family deserves the chance to build a better life. We multiply the resources of a caring community to create safe, attractive, and economically stable neighborhoods."

"Before we develop, before we build, we listen."

Trip Fee: $250 (estimate)

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BGAB work train
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