Overview

Carleton University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program is an immersive community-engaged learning experience that connects students to international partner communities. 

This year-long experiential-learning program culminates with a trip during the winter reading week each year. Through this experience, students explore the social, environmental, and economic challenges impacting their partner community, while supporting meaningful, community-led projects. 

In 2019/2020, five different experiences were offered in the United States, Costa Rica and Guatemala. In February 2020 COVID-19 was primarily present in East Asia, allowing for the continuation of the planned ASB trips. All ASB participants in the 2019-2020 academic year completed the travel component of the program and returned home safe and healthy. 

COVID-19 has since developed into a global pandemic. Limits on social interaction have been codified into legislation, including but not limited to the closing of many international borders. This in turn has limited international mobility, making it increasingly difficult for students in Canada to conduct non-essential travel outside of the country, and pushing the SEO to re-envision the delivery of the ASB program, exclusive of a travel component.  

The 2019/2020 ASB experiences cost between $2,000 and $2500 which includes flights, accommodations and meals for the week. Students accepted into the program are required to cover these costs. We expect these costs to increase dramatically when international travel resumes 

The SEO is starting the ASB Legacy Fund to address the increasing programmatic and financial limitations COVID-19 has placed on our global experiential-learning initiatives. We believe that communities are the greatest classrooms in the world and so, there is a need to innovate our programming to offer students valuable, accessible experiences while simultaneously responding to the needs of our local and global community partners.  

The Background

Engaged learning – Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is designed to break down the barriers of education by connecting students directly to the communities, people, and social issues they learn about in lecture halls and seminars. 

Empowered communities – Community-Engaged Learning is the foundation of ASB. We work in with communities to facilitate an experience rooted in respect and partnership. 

Accessibility – the barriers of student participation and engagement in the ASB program have increased due to COVID-19 (in terms of financial and mobility constraints). This fund will strategically support and sustain the future of the ASB program to ensure students can participate in this immersive experience.

The Rollout

While the Alternative Spring Break program is currently suspended due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, we hope to raise funds to support students once travel resumes. Donations to this campaign will serve to expand and innovate the ASB program to ensure it is more financially accessible to and versatile for studentswho otherwise may not be able to participate in the program in future years once travel restrictions have been lifted.  

This FutureFunder Campaign is one of several initiatives the Student Experience Office (SEO) facilitates to make Alternative Spring Break (ASB) financially accessible. 

The largest barrier to participate in ASB (or other like programs) for students is financial. The COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted students’ ability to earn disposable income and to participate in experiential-learning programs. The funds raised from this campaign will be used to offset the costs for the dedicated and deserving students who, without your support, may not be able to participate in this transformative program 

In addition, this fund will be used to expand the programmatic elements of our traditional ASB model to create virtual, accessible alternatives for students in the likely event that travel is not an option in the foreseeable future.  

 

The Impact

“Life-changing”, “eye-opening”, and “unforgettable” are some of the words participants have used to describe their ASB experience. 

Participating in this program allows students to develop their skills as leaders and to enhance their understanding of global issues. 

By working and learning alongside their partner communities, students experience personal growth and improve their interpersonal and intercultural competency. 

Participants overwhelmingly agree that participation in ASB has helped them enhance their critical thinking skills and make real-world connections to their academic discipline. To hear more about our students experiences with the ASB program, check-out these testimonials!

With your help, even more dedicated and deserving students will be able to participate in the Alternative Spring Break (ASB). 

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