A lot of times when students go home on breaks, it turns into a time of Netflix and sleeping in, which is very needed sometimes. It can also leave a lot of students wanting to do more with their time. Western has a solution for that, with a long-standing program called Alternative Bronco Breaks, which allows students to do something productive and fun with their breaks.
Alternative Bronco Breaks (ABB) has been a program at WMU for decades, each year taking students to different places around the country to volunteer for the community. With ABB, students get the opportunity to travel around the country doing different community service activities.
Hailey Pecic,recruitment chair for ABB, and has been a part of the program for two semesters. Pecic said the mission of ABB is community outreach. Each year the team assesses any need the country might have and goes to help.
“Every break we like to mix it up,” Pecic said.
Depending on where the program decides to go, students can expect different tasks. On Pecic’s first alternative break, her and a team went to Jacksonville, Florida to help with hurricane relief. There, her team helped tear apart houses destroyed in the hurricane and move items out of the houses that needed repair. Pecic’s most memorable experience while on that trip was the bond the team created.
“It really taught me to value teamwork and community,” Pecic said.
Pecic said the trip even changed her perspective on things. In Jacksonville, everyone had recently lost their homes to the hurricane and were in dire need of help. She said after the trip she really appreciated the things she has here and realized just how privileged we all are here in Michigan.
Pecic stresses the fact that it is not just a “voluntourism” trip and that whoever goes will be working very hard.
“We aren't just going and taking pictures, we are going and getting our hands dirty,” she said.
The trip could get hard at times, but Pecic claims that going on an alternative break was the best thing she has ever done at WMU. This trip allowed her to make many new friends and really give back to the community in a new way. But if hurricane relief isn't something you’d be interested in, there really is a trip for everyone. ABB has worked with Habitat for Humanity, the LGBTQ community, animal shelters, foster youth, and other efforts.
Pecic said that ABB offers students a chance to get outside their comfort zones and become a leader.
“It’s important to show that Western students care about the world,” Pecic said.
If you are interested in an alternative break, you can apply on ExperienceWMU until end of day on Feb. 13.
“It was an experience you want to jump on,” Pecic said.