Alternative Spring Break in Seattle: Making a Community Difference While Learning

Alternative Spring Break in Seattle: Making a Community Difference While Learning


Northeastern University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) presents an opportunity for students to address critical social issues through community outreach while developing core competencies along the way. We follow one of nine trips this year which included students from the Boston location who spent their ASB experience at Lifelong in Seattle.

“Alternative spring break is one of the community service programs at Northeastern,” explained one of the volunteers at a live event after completing their trip. “This year, we had nine trips that took place in different locations around the US and also internationally.”

Jenn Lamb and Maggie SextonDwyer were the team leaders and Meghna Godbole, Anushka Jami, Constantinos Kaltsas, Chelsey Ntoro, Meggie Putnam, and Kelly Rosendo were among the trip volunteers. These students made use of their spring break by aiding the Lifelong organization in preparing and packing meals for Seattle communities. Let’s discover where the trip began, how these experiences form part of the curriculum, and the way students are involved in the Northeastern University global network through volunteering.

The Alternative Spring Break Experience

Students from the Northeastern University Boston campus began planning their 2022 volunteer trip to Lifelong in Seattle in September 2021. Once a partnership with the organization has been developed, team leaders are selected and begin training in skills they’ll need to successfully lead the trip, from facilitating thoughtful reflections to planning an itinerary and meals for the week. The remaining volunteers join the team and participate in pre-trip education events to learn more about their trip location and the social issues their service organization works to address.

Boston campus students supported the efforts of Lifelong’s Chicken Soup Brigade, a program that prepares nutritious meals and fully stocked grocery bags for those living with chronic illnesses in the local community. The meals were then delivered to community members experiencing food insecurity by other volunteers. Volunteers couldn’t help but notice the amount of care the Lifelong team put into their jobs, from each meal packed and grocery bag delivered, down to individualized notes to the recipients. The Alternative Break’s Program values building long-term relationships with communities and nonprofits and they look forward to returning to Seattle next year to continue learning from and serving with organizations addressing food security in the region.

“Something I’m definitely going to take with me is noticing the level of care and thought that Lifelong put into every step of the process,” enthused one of the trip volunteers.

This Alternative Springs Break’s enriching experiences weren’t limited to volunteering. Students had the opportunity to visit local landmarks from the University of Washington campus to the bustling downtown city hub and numerous destinations in between. One of the many highlights was the Northeastern University Seattle campus, fitted with state-of-the-art study spaces and technology which the students appreciated. 

Community Engagement Boosts Curriculum

As part of Northeastern University’s extracurricular learning model, students can volunteer for community service and learning exploration opportunities. Gaining knowledge of new cultures, collaborating with people of different communities, and building leadership and problem-solving skills are key takeaways from their participation.

“During our time volunteering with Lifelong, the atmosphere and the people there were so vibrant and fun, and everybody there cared for their job,” emphasized one of the student volunteers. “They all were extremely motivated. The atmosphere is very welcoming. So to me, Lifelong kind of represents what a perfect volunteer experience could be, where not only do you help people but you have fun doing so.”

Some students choose international learning experiences while others partake in regional opportunities located throughout the U.S. In addition, each community partner organization has unique goals, allowing varied options for student growth.

To learn more about the program, check out the Alternative Spring Break page.

Northeastern’s Global Network

At its heart, Northeastern University is a global network of interconnected campuses, staff, and alumni, with a student experience that is world-class and international in reach. The university offers a multitude of extracurricular networking and advancement opportunities, including internships, student jobs, workshops, events, and more for those looking for a diverse learning adventure.

“I’m excited about the fact that next year we’re hoping to have more undergrads for trip programming,” a student volunteer shared about inviting students back to Seattle next year. “I think students on both sides learn about each other and increase those connections between the campuses.

With the ASB program, Northeastern University students are able to traverse exciting and varied locations while remaining tethered to the school they call home, all while nurturing integral skills they’ll use in their future professional and personal lives.

Looking to find out more about Northeastern University’s global campus network? Click here.

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