Published: November 13, 2008
Every spring break, a group of University of Tampa students takes part
in a journey that has become a yearly tradition of building homes,
assisting the needy, and cleaning up the environment.
annual Alternative Spring Break having become such a popular alternative
to what its organizers dub the “traditional” spring break, UT’s student
volunteer organization, PEACE (People Exploring Active Community
Experiences), has decided to expand the program to six separate trips
throughout the year.
“We had an overwhelming number of people
who wanted to participate in the Alternative Spring Break that couldn’t
because of the limited number of people that we could take on a trip,”
said Katrina Vidal, PEACE’s head alternative breaks coordinator. “We
also wanted to give people a variety of options about where they could
go and try to hit on more than just one issue whether it’s an
environmental cause or homelessness.”
newly expanded program gives students the opportunity to participate in
two separate alternative spring break trips as well as two weekend
trips, a winter trip, and an international service trip during the
summer. Weekend and winter trips take groups of 15 students to locations
throughout Florida, while the spring break and international trips will
venture to locations in the southeast and elsewhere.
to get students involved in something they normally wouldn’t have the
opportunity to get involved with,” said Vidal. “With more options they
can hopefully find something that suits their passions and interests.”
began to roll out the new line of alternative breaks in spring 2007
with its first international alternative break to the Dominican Republic
where students conducted an outreach program to a local orphanage in
addition to helping teach English to children in the local schools. In
2008 the international service trip was held in Jamaica and students got
the chance to working local schools, teaching children and building
The next planned international trip will take
students to Puebla, Mexico from May 10-16. There, the group will work
with the organization Community Links International on projects
addressing sustainability and environmental conservation in the local
A recent weekend trip took a group of students to
Kissimmee, FL, where the group volunteered with “Give Kids the World,” a
nonprofit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their
families. A second weekend trip is scheduled for the spring semester.
During the winter break trip in December, students will travel to the
Immokalee Friendship House, a shelter near Naples, FL, that offers food,
clothing and other support to the homeless.
For this year’s two
planned spring break trips, groups will go to Mississippi and
Tennessee, respectively. In Mississippi, students will assist Hurricane
Katrina recovery efforts, while in Tennessee they will work with a local
Cherokee Native American community on environmental upkeep on the
Appalachian Trail, in addition to playing games with senior citizens and
facilitating arts and crafts activities with the local children.
Further details of current and future trips are available through the PEACE Volunteer Center or via e-mail at
. Volunteers are selected through an application process, Vidal said.
an opportunity to do something good with your time and give back to
your community,” she said. “In the long-term, we hope for it to be a way
to get students engaged in an issue and encourage people to get
For more information on PEACE’s Alternative Breaks program, e-mail
or call the PEACE Office at (813) 253-6263.