After being a member of an international alternative break trip, then leading one to Central America to work on housing issues, I was bitten by a swarm of Service Bugs.
Since then, I have had the privilege of working for Branch Out International, a program run by the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, that focuses on international alternative breaks. Little did I know what an enriching experience this would be. At this point, all I knew was that there was a great need for change in the world, and I wanted to be a part of it. I had NO clue how to go about this, though.
Enter: 5 other student directors, an advisor who works for Branch Out (Branch Out oversees Branch Out Regional, National, and International alternative break trips at W&M) and a whole lot of passion for service. Each week we collaborate on how to improve upon the service that we do in communities both domestically and internationally, and how we can go about creating the biggest impact on social justice. That’s quite the daunting task.
Each week though, I’m inspired by the insight and ideas that these student directors bring to the table. Most of the time, I can’t even wrap my head around the questions of “What is social justice?” and “How do we get there?” Nevertheless, without fail, my fellow student directors bring a new piece of the puzzle to the table, and put it into action via our alternative break trips. Absolutely mind-blowing.
Sure, one alternative break trip won’t alleviate all the problems of the world and bring about that illusive “world peace” that Miss America seems to always want (Miss Congeniality, anyone?). However, I am completely convinced that these trips have the power to educate our students and bring awareness to so many different issues, ranging from housing affordability to medical aid to education.
These experiences through Branch Out have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my college career and have, without a doubt, shaped the person that I am and want to become. Through both my trips and working for Branch Out, I have developed a passion for finding ways to reach that lofty goal of “social justice,” and hope to pursue a career in the field after fulfilling my dreams of working in the Peace Corps.
The Service Bug has been the most welcome insect in my life, and for that I am thankful.
Class of 2011