When School’s out for Summer, Service is in for UT Students

At The University of Tampa, alternative breaks happen year-round; UT students leave May 13 for two-week alternative break program in Puerto Rico and Ecuador

Published: May 1, 2013
Merely three days after the end of final exams, 19 University of Tampa students will hold off their summer vacation plans to participate in UT’s Alternative Break community service program in Puerto Rico and Ecuador.

Instead of catching up on sleep and suntans, these students will be teaching in local schools, building homes, creating trails, maintaining roads, farming and learning about different cultures.

In Puerto Rico, UT students will work with Plenitud Eco-educative Initiatives to volunteer and learn more about sustainability in Las Marias. In addition to volunteering, students will be provided training, demonstrations and services in organic farming, bio-construction and other permaculture practices.

In Ecuador, students will work with the Foundation for Indigenous Community Development in Pastaza (Fundecoipa) in the city of Puyo, to volunteer and learn more about the Amazon and the Shuar culture. The trip was advertised for UT students who want to actively engage in community and grassroots development and conservation, and experience the Amazon. Students return from Ecuador on May 24.

UT’s Alternative Breaks program has become so popular that UT’s student volunteer organization that coordinates the program, PEACE (People Exploring Active Community Experiences), offered eight domestic and international trips throughout the year. UT’s first alternative break trip was held during spring break in 1999. Its first international trip, to the Dominican Republic, was held in 2007. Today, trips are scheduled during spring break, Thanksgiving break and various long weekends. Destinations include the Florida Keys Wild Bird Sanctuary, SOLVE (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) in Portland, OR, and the Medici Project in Atlanta.

Chelsey Ptak, student coordinator for PEACE, said the alternative breaks program builds active citizens inside UT and across the world.

“The students’ excitement doesn't just come from getting these opportunities. It comes from the desire to help others, to make a difference and to watch as they move closer to becoming active citizens in their community,” Ptak said.

For more information on PEACE’s Alternative Breaks program, go to www.ut.edu/peace/alternativebreaks, email alternativebreaks@ut.edu or call the PEACE Office at (813) 253-6263.