February 6th, 2016, the Central Michigan Alternative Breaks Executive Board was given the opportunity to go to the Great Lakes Alternative Breaks Conference in East Lansing. The conference was held with 15 other AB Boards from around Michigan and Illinois being hosted by the MSU AB Board. GLAB was such an amazing experience to see what other universities do & learn new things to implement into our program at CMU.
The keynote speaker Ja’Nel Jamerson is a history teacher who revolved his speech around the Declaration of Independence & related it to volunteering. He touched about the quality of life ensured, enacting Liberty, & enabling happiness. By ensuring the quality of life for those who we are volunteering with, we ensure every man is created equal for those 2,000 hours. By enacting Liberty, we are compromising the integrity of service if we are not giving access to other people. “When people don’t have a voice, they don’t have a choice”. And by enabling happiness, it’s about being intentional to care like not just giving food out but asking them about their day. The way we diagnose those is the way we treat them; if we diagnose them as needy, we will treat them as needy. So to just see them in a better light & to not count the hours of service because we are so blessed, we have the access most don’t, & we have the support & care most don’t.

In the first breakout session of the morning, I attended this two part “Creative Ice Breakers” & “Reflections” session. This really was essential to me as these are the two parts of any organization or group where participants don’t want to participate. The few ice breakers I learned are definitely unique & interesting that I will implement in future endeavors. As for reflections, it really hit home with the different type of reflections available that would relate to service. Reflections touched on different aspects of eboard, trip advisors, and graduate assistants for different universities; some of which I would like to try with our eboard.

In the second breakout session, I chose the “Tim Gunn: Make It Work” session that touched on how to deal with unexpected changes or situations to board or a group in general. 6 aspects that they touched on is:

  1. Honesty
  2. Support
  3. Have fun
  4. Share and understand a common goal for the organization
  5. Passion
  6. Teamwork

All of these touched on motivating and supporting those who want to be involved in a program. To keep their interest, passion, & involvement through creating end goals, research packets into each issue, & gatherings.

The second keynote speaker touched on the statistic 23,000 students, 1.3 billion service hours served & how the future AB looks to you to invest in active citizenship. This was given by Tia Fay who is the director of Break Away (overall umbrella of the AB program & what we follow).

And the third & last breakout session, I chose “Behind Closed Doors” which focused on different scenarios that have been or might be experienced on an AB. This is especially important to implement into trainings with Site Leaders. The nine scenarios we discussed were:

  1. Alcohol usage
  2. Problems with trip advisors
  3. An overly emotional participant
  4. An overly talkative participant
  5. Issue with service
  6. Issue with housing
  7. Confront a fellow leader
  8. Language barriers
  9. Bias incident (gender pronouns & exclusive language)

My favorite thing was learning from other fundraising chairs to try & take some of their ideas for our future fundraisers. Some ideas were:

  • 5K run
  • Buckets (collect money off the street)
  • Restaraunt percentage of sales that day
  • Having a fundraising goal
  • Every break fundraising $1000
  • Adopt a breaker (send letters for donations)
  • Waffles & rootbeer
  • “Suck for a buck” (sweep dorm rooms for people for a $1)
  • Lip sync battle
  • Gala for alum/faculty dinner with silent auction

Overall, I met many passionate active citizens who touched on their programs & asked about improvements. We were all there to support our AB programs & to learn from each other. I cannot wait to implement these new things and continue my passion with AB.


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