Branch Out Alternative Breaks

Creating a community of active & educated individuals dedicated to the pursuit of social justice

July 6, 2015
by kjainsworth
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Relationship Before Service

by Dahanah Josias Sejour

This January I had the opportunity to spend a week in Cap Haitien, Haiti where we spent most of our time working at a school in the town of Cima. I will admit that I was not sure what to expect before going – I was excited, for after leaving Haiti at the age of 7 this would be my first time back to Haiti, but I was also nervous and anxious to see how we would implement our work and how it would be received.  I was not at all prepared for the experience I would have during my short stay in Haiti. I was blown away by how comfortable and at peace I felt. The people we encountered were amazing. From our hostess to the teachers we worked with, everyone welcomed us with open arms.

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June 30, 2015
by kjainsworth
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A Conversation in The Healing Place

by Korkor Koppoe

This spring break I had the opportunity to spend a week in Richmond, VA (oh so far away!) and worked with the Fan Free Clinic. I must admit, the first few days were rough. I realized that I went into this experience with the wrong ideas about what we were going to be doing. I thought we would be working alongside the doctors, patients, and other staff members in the clinic. We spent most of our time in a classroom in the basement of the clinic. I realized that Branch Out is really dedicated to educating students on issues in the community rather than having us go into communities with no knowledge and leave after a week of “service”. While it was tiring and often an information overload, I can honestly say that I walked away with more knowledge than I entered with

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June 24, 2015
by kjainsworth
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Finding Focus with Outreach 360

by Rachel Warner

It is hard to put into words the experience I had in Nicaragua with Outreach 360 because it was such a positive one.  Not only did I make a difference in the lives of people in the community, but they continue to have an impact on me.  Outreach 360 is an extra-curricular learning center in Jinotega, Nicaragua that teaches Spanish literacy and English language acquisition.  Attending school in Nicaragua is only for half of a day and so for the other half, kids at the center opt into this program.  When we worked there, it was their winter break but they continued to come with enthusiasm because they truly love learning.

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May 21, 2015
by kjainsworth
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Building a Stronger Community

by Ellery Lea

In March, I spent a week in South Carolina working on a Habitat for Humanity site over spring break. I traveled with eleven other William & Mary students to the Charleston area where we helped refurbish a home and worked in the ReStore. Some of the work we did on site included cleaning the home’s exterior, priming, painting, removing shingles on the roof, and landscaping. Doing manual labor was really rewarding because I could get immediate results and see the progress I was making. For example, when I was painting a side of the house, it was satisfying to see the unpainted area slowly shrink away with each stroke of the brush.

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April 8, 2015
by kjainsworth
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Relating Service to Studies in Haiti

by Ayala Maurice

This year’s Branch out trip to Cap Haitien was truly amazing. It’s so difficult to describe in words how much the experience impacted my view of the world and the role that the government and organizations play in it. We were greeted warmly by the teachers and students and taken in as a friend immediately. I did not expect to feel so comfortable with the teachers and despite not speaking Haitian Creole, I found we were able to communicate in so many other ways. The NGO that we worked with, Sonje Ayiti, is led by some phenomenal people. It really made me appreciate the work of grassroots organizations in developing and easing economic pressure within communities. The teachers who were employed by Sonje Ayiti had pride and passion for what they did each day and only wanted to do more for their students in advancing their learning. The sense of community that I felt surrounding the NGO and the school really solidified, for me, just how vital these organizations are for improving everyday life.

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March 2, 2015
by kjainsworth
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#Outreach360 – Release the Hero Within

by Allison Shomaker

My week working with Outreach360 in Jinotega, Nicaragua was one of the best. We flew into the capital, Managua, and took a two hour long bus ride through the mountains to Jinotega. The NGO we were working with was amazing. Outreach360 had everything planned perfectly. We spent the first day adjusting and then we jumped straight into teaching. Our group worked with around 48 children in the Learning Center. We did review of basic vocabulary and taught some new grammar lessons. During recess, we sang songs and played games in the walled-in back yard. For four days, we worked with the children and learned about the program.

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February 13, 2015
by kjainsworth
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Reflections on Water in El Portillo, Nicaragua

by Rachel Brown

As the sun started its graceful descent into the Nicaraguan sky, the people of El Portillo, the community in which my service team and I were living that week, began to gather on the main road for a protest. They started very small fires on the road to prevent a government official from passing. My team and I watched from outside the school where we were living as more flames began to appear. Yet, the entire protest remained peaceful – no one was hurt, no shots were fired, and nothing became remotely violent.

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February 11, 2015
by kjainsworth
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The Spirit of Service in Haiti

by Connor Kennedy

This winter I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a portion of my break on a Branch Out International Trip to Cap Haitien, Haiti. It is an experience I will never forget. I have known that I hope to one day work in international development for quite some time now. However, that is easier said than done. I viewed this opportunity as a step in the right direction, as I had never before been to a developing country. My experience with Branch Out was wonderful in preparing our team on the culture, lifestyle, and history of a country I previously knew little about. Of course I remembered the earthquake that left Haiti so devastated only a few years ago, but apart from other limited knowledge, I really did not know much about the country I had committed to traveling to and working in for a week’s time. Even our preparation, weekly meetings, and the knowledge I had previously had about developing countries could not prepare me for when we finally arrived in Haiti. Cap Haitien was vibrant, colorful, full of life and people walking around everywhere and riding five to a motorcycle. The city and its landscape were beautiful with miles and miles of blue coastline. What I was less prepared for was just how different the country was…the roads largely unpaved except for very busy streets, with no central electricity and mostly no plumbing, was a far cry from anywhere I had ever been before. What struck me the most were the countless stray dogs, goats, cows, chickens, etc. that seemed to roam anywhere and everywhere at all hours of the day.

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