RUAB: Rutgers University Alternative Breaks


My team! RUAB The Right to Rights.

Getting involved on a college campus can be intimidating, and on a campus as large as Rutgers University- New Brunswick, it can almost seem impossible.  For freshman especially, joining clubs and really becoming “a part” of something is not fun when every one else seems to already know each other or know what they’re doing.  However, I was not going to let that stop me.

I spent my entire first semester relentlessly searching out new clubs and ways to get involved.  I’ll admit, I went to clubs where I felt like my voice didn’t matter and I gave up.  I also auditioned for various theater clubs on campus without much success.  Despite this, I knew that time was on my side and eventually, if I kept trying, I’d make it.  This hope is what helped me find Rutgers Alternative Breaks.

RUAB is a program found under the Leadership and Experiential Learning group here at Rutgers.  In high school, I was very involved with service and I knew that it was something I wanted to continue doing in college.  I had heard about “alternative spring and winter breaks” where instead of staying home or going somewhere tropical, you go away to a place with a group of students and do community service of some sort.

At first I was nervous, nervous that if I went on a trip I would miss out on time at home or away with friends, nervous that I would be alone the whole trip, nervous that the other students would be more well versed on the topic of interest than me and I’d just be lost.

I ended up applying despite my fears and got my first trip choice: RUAB The Right to Rights.  I knew that the trip would be focused on refugee resettlement and human rights and that it would be a flying trip, but I did not know where we were going until our first pre-trip meeting.  In the pre-trip meetings we learned a large amount about the type of service we would be doing and discussed our feelings toward the subject at hand.

I was not sure how close my group would become during the pre-trip meetings, since we did not really have much time to get to know each other.  But on the trip, that all changed. I would have to say that the four hour flight delay on our way to Georgia really did help bring us together as a group, but I also think that the process of the site leaders choosing their team is extremely effective, and luck was on our side.  I would say that from what I have heard many other alternative breaks have a similar experience.  One in which, throughout seven days of service together, the entire team learns about one another in a way that you cannot find on campus.

My specific work in Clarkston, Georgia is a week that I will never forget.  It has shaped me as a human being and brought amazing people, who I can now call friends, into my life.  It is awesome as a freshman to have found something to get involved in that is so rewarding.  I now feel that Rutgers is more of a home to me, one with friends who know and care about me.  A place where I can be active and a place where my voice can be heard.

My number one advice to anyone out there looking to get involved: don’t stop, keep searching, keep trying out new things, and trust me, you will find a home.  I highly recommend RUAB to everyone.  Whether you are outgoing or shy, there is a place for you on a team, and there are so many different service options.

So, get out there and get involved!