While many across campus look forward to spending winter break relaxing at home with friends and family, students and staff participating in the Colorado State University Alternative Winter Break program are preparing for the experience of a lifetime in Kenya.
The program, in partnership with the Office for Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement, encourages students to make the most of their time off as they embark on an immersive, cross-cultural journey. Participants depart for Kenya on Dec. 28 and return Jan. 13, 2019, spending the two weeks volunteering within the community.
Brett Bruyere, the academic director and associate professor for the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, helped launch the program in 2007 with a focus on engaging students and deepening their learning experience.
“Breaks are traditionally just time off, but really it’s a time to do something provocative with your life that influences your worldview,” said Bruyere. “You can read and see these things in the media, but it’s another to experience it yourself.”
During their time in Kenya, students volunteer in a series of hands-on projects, along the way gaining a deeper understanding of issues in the community and how local organizations are working to make positive changes.
Through partnerships with Unity Women’s Village, Lorubae Primary School, and Samburu Youth Education Fund, participants learn about cultural and social issues impacting the community as their work facilitates interaction with those around them. Working closely with community partners, they paint classrooms, repair housing and support women who have overcome adversity.
As participants engage with the local culture and participate in service-learning projects, they take part in an educational experience that spans far beyond the walls of a classroom. This unparalleled opportunity brings together students and staff with a similar passion to learn about the world around them and leave a lasting impact.
“This is for those with a high level of curiosity about the different ways people go about life on this planet, those with a thirst for adventure,” said Bruyere. “There is so much to gain from participating in this trip.”