BG Alternative Breaks (bGAB)
Bowling Green Alternative Breaks (bGAB) educates and empowers individuals to become active citizens through immersive community service experiences that challenge them to foster positive social change.
We engage leaders who prioritize community and commit to a life of positive and sustainable change. 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.
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 institution-wide notice and praise. Since 2013, bGAB has sent out 318 students on 31 trips and dedicated 9,709 hours of direct service to community partners.
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 leadership team, 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.
Alternative Break trips for the 2023-2024 Academic Year are still being determined. Please continue to check back for more information as we confirm our trips and open registration.
Trips are sent during winter, spring, and summer breaks of the academic year as well as various weekends throughout the fall and spring semester.
Current, active trip registrations can be found under the "Current Trips" tab.
There are two undergraduate students who are site leaders for the trips. ASite leaders complete a leadership training prior to the trip based on training materials available through the national organization and resources at BGSU for experiential learning. 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 the length of the trip and costs associated with travel, lodging, and meals. Therefore, trip fees change from trip to trip. Trip costs range from $40 to $220, depending on trip length, destination, etc. This fee will include transportation, lodging, and meals for the duration of the trip. Specific costs and what is included can be found under the Current Trips tab.
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.
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 students 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.
Executive Board positions and Site Leader positions are the next steps in the quest to get more involved with this organization. All members of the leadership team receive training, and in return are equipped with the skills to facilitate training sessions, pre-trip meetings, and plan and implement service trips and other events related to the organization.
Site Leaders are Undergraduate students who provide leadership for a BGSU Alternative Break team during Spring or May break. A team usually consists of 10-12 students (including 2 Site Leaders and a Graduate Student). Teams usually travel by 7 passenger vehicles, sleep at hostels or other low-cost accommodation, and provide direct service with partner/s which provides direct service related to the issue identified. Site Leaders complete a pre-trip/and post-trip preparation course and then help lead pre-trip meetings for their team, supported by the BGAB Leadership team and the Graduate Student Liaison.
Site Leader Expectations
- Must be a student enrolled at BGSU.
- Must be in good academic and university standing, maintaining a 2.5 GPA.
- Maintain a positive attitude about your position, bGAB, the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and Civic Engagement, and BGSU
- Applicants who are chosen MUST participate in the Site Leader Training course.
- These positions are highly involved and require a substantial time commitment:
- Site Leader Training/and Trip Participant Orientation (roughly 3 hours per week during the 1st half of spring semester)
- Participation as a site leader on MLK Jr Day of Service to get extra experience. If this is an issue please let a member of leadership know and we can try and work something out.
- Participation in a post-trip reflection/celebration session.
- bGAB Leadership Team members and Site Leaders are subject to formal evaluation by the bGAB advisor.
- St. Bernard Project - New Orleans, LA - In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and displaced hundreds of thousands of families. Thirteen years later, thousands of homes are still waiting to be rebuilt. Participants will assist in the long-term recovery efforts to bring families back to the New Orleans community.
- Renewing Homes of Great Augusta - Staunton, VA - Participants assist Renewing Homes in its mission to accomplish, at no cost to the homeowner, critical home repairs and modifications for elderly, disadvantaged and disabled homeowners. This enables individuals to live in their homes with dignity in a safe, warm, dry, and accessible environment.
- Heartland Alliance - Chicago, IL - For many low-income communities, good jobs and healthy food are in short supply. Participants will work with Heartland Alliance's Chicago Farmwork Program, which grows and distributes local produce to those who need it most while supporting people overcoming barriers to employment.
- Mid Atlantic Border Collie Rescue - Chestertown, MD - Participants will work with Mid Atlantic Border Collie Rescue (MABCR), a haven for dogs that have been discarded, neglected, abandoned or stray. This non-profit organization cares for, trains and rehabilitates dogs with the goal of placing them into loving and caring homes
- Combating Food Insecurity - Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti, MI - 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 and to create healthy economies and healthy places in the Ypsilanti community.
- Little River Wetlands Project - Fort Wayne, IN - 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.
- Overcoming Ableism: Making the Outdoors Accessible - Mayville, MI - 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.
- Putting "UNITY" back into "COMMUNITY" - Detroit, MI - 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.
- Living off the Grid: Sustaining the Earth - Boone, NC - 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.
- Refugee Resettlement - Richmond, VA - 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.
- Conserving Carolina - Hendersonville, NC - “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.
- Schooner Farms - Weston, OH - Schooner Farms, located outside of Weston, Ohio, educates active citizens about sustainability, permaculture, raising freshwater lobsters and building community. This hands-on experience is a partnership between bGAB and the Outdoor Program that helps Schooner Farms prepare for a busy season of growing fresh foods, flowers, and lavender organically.
- Su Casa Catholic Worker - Chicago, IL - Graduate student trips combine structured group academic work sessions with community-based learning experiences. Trip participants join Su Casa Catholic Worker in its mission to create a community of hospitality and healing for families in crisis in the Chicago area. The organization primarily serves Spanish-speaking homeless families in Chicago, many of whom are women and children escaping domestic violence.
Updated: 05/11/2023 11:18AM