What is BreakOut? To find out more about this incredible organization, we talked to Ali Baird and Anthony Siracusa. Ali is a current CC student and the BreakOut Co-Chair, and Anthony is the CCE’s new Engaged Learning Specialist. They talked about what BreakOut does, why it is so special, and what they have planned for the organization in the future.
Ali described the organization and what makes it important to Colorado College.
BreakOut is a community engagement organization at CC that maintains relationships with many non-profits in the surrounding Colorado Springs community, such as the Marian House, Greccio Housing, and Family Promise. We rely on those relationships to organize Saturday, block break, and alternative spring break trips for students. Our trips are intended to introduce CC students to as many organizations as possible that work in a variety of different issues, including homelessness, environmental stewardship, and food security. Through BreakOut trips, we hope that students find organizations of interest to then engage in sustainable, long-term community engagement. In a sense, BreakOut is a stepping-stone for continued service work.
Anthony discussed how he thinks BreakOut is special to CC.
I am still very new to CC – and thus still learning every day about the many outstanding opportunities afforded our students. But it seems that BreakOut is unique here at CC in that it combines travelling with community engagement. Through our Block Break program in particular, students are able to explore Colorado and its surrounding regions while engaging in meaningful work with a community partner. ASB is very similar in that regard, and increasingly we want to help CC students learn about the people, places, and issues they encounter while doing their community work.
Anthony further discussed the importance of the block break and ASB trips for CC students gaining a sense of place.
The Block Break and ASB trips both allow students to spend time “learning in place” – that is, to spend time thinking about challenges and issues that emerge in particular locations. For example, our students traveled recently to Mission: Wolf on a Block Break trip. For some students, the Mission: Wolf trip was an opportunity to build on knowledge they developed in natural sciences course about habitat preservation and the protection of animal populations. For other students, the trip was a hands-on introduction to these issues. Being in the mountains, amidst wolves that are being supported as they transition back into the wild, provided students with an engaged learning opportunity under the guidance of staff experts at Mission: Wolf.
For ASB this year, we are exploring the possibility of a trip to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief. In preparation for the trip, we are hopeful to discuss larger issues that arise when thinking about hurricanes – issues like community resilience amidst climate change and the history of Puerto Rico as an American territory. We are hopeful that these student learning opportunities can supplement the experience of being in Puerto Rico and engaging in relief work.
The Mission: Wolf and ASB trips both offer CC students the chance to learn in place – to better understand a challenge or an issue by not only conducting research and reading, but to develop a relationship with a local partner who can also serve as a guide and educator to our students as they engage in community work.
In terms of future goals for the organization, Anthony is hoping to work on making BreakOut trips a more in-depth learning experience.
One thing our student leaders have discussed is strengthening the learning component on our trips. This would include workshops and orientations to places and issues in advance of a trip, routine dialogue and discourse about what students are learning and experiencing on a trip, and sufficient time to debrief and reflect at the conclusion of trips. BreakOut has been an excellent venue for students to explore issues and challenges, and increasingly we are hopeful that the trips can be an opportunity for students to discern and reflect and think about how they can grapple with the challenges facing our communities.
Ali stated three main goals for the coming year:
Listen to student input and plan trips that match student interests!
Create a stronger community of trip leaders and participants on campus so that we can brainstorm ideas!
Provide more trip leader trainings and send more trips out!
Excited about the possibility of pursuing community engagement through BreakOut? According to Ali, “students can get involved by signing up for any of our trips on Summit, attending one of our leader trainings, or reaching out to one of our leaders: Ali Baird, Amy Daugherty, and Jesse Shaich. We would be happy to speak with anyone who wants to get involved, especially if you have any trip ideas!”
Contact Ali Baird, BreakOut Co-Chair at email@example.com
Or Anthony Siracusa, Engaged Learning Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to find out more? Visit the CCE website here:
Interviews and content by Claire Derry.