Some of us spent our college spring breaks burrowed in our dorm rooms, watching The Big Lebowski and deciding whether to spend the last cash in our bank accounts on ramen or Keystone. The lucky ones went on drunken binge fests in Mexico. But the noble students—the ones who really made a difference—took alternative breaks.
Alternative breaks are intensive vacations that revolve around daily volunteering and helping the lives of others who are less fortunate. These unpaid working getaways pack the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of good deeds into the span of one or two weeks. Students who take alternative breaks go to Puerto Rico to help with HIV/AIDS awareness or to the Bronx to learn about urban education. In 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina, 219,000 college students spent 2.2 million hours volunteering in New Orleans.