Seeking Alternative School Break Leaders

Mark Zachar, a graduate student in Education, is graduate coordinator for service in UMBC’s Office of Student Life

Mark ZacharAs a first year undergrad at the Illinois Institute of Technology I took a risk and decided to participate in our Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip to the Dominican Republic, and ever since I’ve been trying to recreate that life-changing experience for myself and others.  My ASB trip to the DR immersed me in a vibrant unique culture, put my hands and head to work in new challenging ways, and bonded me to my trip peers in lifelong relationships.  Since then I’ve been blessed to have participated and/or lead short term service trips to Florida, Georgia, Mexico, El Salvador, and twice to Belize.  ASB was also my launching pad to my two year service in West Africa – Ghana, as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Now I have the privilege of helping our UMBC community organize profound adventures both on and off campus.

The challenge I am posing to UMBC undergraduates this week is to not only to think ahead about your Spring Break week plans, but to consider putting work into those plans now in order to have a meaningful, productive, and fun vacation from school next March. This year’s Alternative School Break trips will take place from Sunday, March 16, 2014 to Friday, March 21, 2014. Will you work with me to create unique, powerful social change experiences for yourself and your peers? Prior participation in a UMBC ASB Trip is not required, but you need to have had some kind of leadership/organizational experience.  If you are selected as an ASB student trip leader, you will take the lead in identifying community partners and designing the trip with my help.

Trips that have been offered in the past include:

IMG_0818Gesundheit Institutework at the Patch Adams clinic and grounds in West Virginia

Animal Welfareexplores several aspects of animal rights and humane treatment of animals.

ARC –  serve the mentally and physically disabled population at the Arc of Carroll County. 

Environmental work on and promote sustainable living in urban environments across four counties

Through the Eyes of a Refugee – serve the refugee population of Baltimore County

A Day in the Life – focuses on services needed by people who are homeless in Baltimore City

ASB trip leaders can pick from one of these projects or propose their own.  Any viable option will be considered as long as the ASB trip leader is passionate about the social concern and is ready to put in hard work organizing around it.

Interested? Complete the ASB Trip Leader application by midnight on Sunday, October 13th. Contact me if you have any questions.  And if you are not interested in leading a trip but want to participate in ASB, watch for applications to be released in the next two weeks.

Contact the author, Mark Zachar, at