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Alternative Breaks program changes international break structure, offers new opportunity in Ghana


Students interested in environmental sustainability and international service learning will have the opportunity to travel to Ghana for three weeks this summer.

The new Environmental Sustainability in Ghana Alternative Break differs from previous International Alternative Breaks in that it will be a faculty-led program and students will receive course credit.

Receiving course credit allows students to be eligible for financial aid and scholarships previous International Alternative Break participants were not eligible for. Participants will still have the opportunity to fundraise in the same way other Alternative Breaks participants do.

The estimated cost of the break is $2,100-2,300, not including tuition for the three-credit course, airfare and vaccinations. 

There will be course meetings once a month during Spring 2018. Topics discussed in the course will include environmental sustainability, the difference between service learning and voluntourism, impacts of trading and history of Ghana, said Watervliet senior Kelsey Griffith, international development chairperson on the Alternative Breaks Advisory Board. 

There will still be two site leaders on the break who will work with the faculty. Faculty leader Dusty Myers has been to Ghana numerous times and built connections there, Griffith said. 

“We thought faculty members would be able to provide better context for students so we weren’t going to another country and not having enough background information,” Griffith said.

During the Alternative Break, participants will get an overview of the history of Ghana, work alongside Ghanaian forestry interns, learn about textile production, work on a cocoa or rubber farm, visit a rice farm and more.

Griffith said participants will still be involved in Alternative Breaks orientation and re-orientation. The program will be alcohol and drug free like all other Alternative Breaks are. It’s still an Alternative Break but with a course attached to it, she said. 

“(Participants) will still be part of the Alternative Breaks family and the experience is focused on social justice,” Griffith said. 

To be eligible to sign up, students are required to attend one of three informational meetings. The first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25. The location has yet to be determined. Meetings are also scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 and 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 in the Charles V. Park Library Auditorium.