In the world today, service is a huge part of all communities. It brings people together with a common goal of betterment, whether that be through habitat restoration, healthcare, community development, or anything in-between. A servant heart is what drives the world forward. Look at politics, healthcare, or education. The past, present, and future professionals in these fields all start out with a passion for making the world a better place, and it is through their commitment to service that countless communities have been changed.

Since it’s founding 11 years ago, the USD Alternative Break movement, otherwise known as AWOL, has been constantly developing to meet the growing interests of students. Beginning with one trip over the spring of 2004 to now sending 15 trips during the 2015-2016 school year, it is easy to notice how effectively our mission relates with the University of South Dakota’s population. However our work doesn’t end here, and AWOL is so excited to announce it’s partnering with another international service organization called MEDLIFE. MEDLIFE stands for Medicine, Education, and Development to Low Income Families Everywhere, and has a mission set of values very much inline with AWOL’s. On a MEDLIFE trip, student’s travel to mobile clinics across the world in which they work with local healthcare providers to offer services to rural, poverty-struck communities. During the time there we also work on a development project, which could range from building stairs so that children have a safe route down the mountain for school all the way to building a hygienic public restroom.

In order to make the application process more efficient and student-friendly, there are a few changes that I want to make you aware of.

  1. The application will be grouped by trip type (driving domestic, flying domestic, or flying international). Then…
  2. Based on what you select for trip type, you will rank SOCIAL ISSUES in terms of what you are most interested in.
  3. You will be placed on a trip based on the top three social issues you choose.

So, as you can see we are no longer advertising trips based on location, you will find out where you are going at the big kick-off event prior to pre-trip meetings. Who would have thought AWOL would put so much mystery and excitement into your life??

There is one other new, exciting, and life-changing detail I want to draw your attention to… AWOL has a NEW LOGO!!! Thank you to the USD Creative Services department! You can see the new logo on our Facebook page, WordPress, Twitter, Instagram, MSN instant messenger (*kidding*).

Well, as my class draws closers, I should end this blog post. I just want to welcome everyone back to school, and I hope your first couple days have been going swell. Keep an eye out for applications, Vermillion days of service, and alternative weekends! Can’t wait for the year ahead.