Appalachian State University's Alternative Service Experience Program immerses students in a service experience in local, domestic, and international communities, and are created and led by trained student Peer Leaders. The Alternative Service Experience involves direct service to a community, purposeful reflection, relationship building with other students, and FUN!
While each program is different, all focus on a particular social issue such as homelessness, the environment, or youth. Programs in the past have volunteered at soup kitchens, in National Parks, at YMCAs, and on organic farms.
Alternative Service Experience Programs are an alternative to the typical college break because they are focused on serving others instead of self. Participants on programs participate in activities, volunteer work, meals, housing, and conversation communual rather than individually. All teams participate in nightly group reflections. Also, all programs are drug and alcohol free, allowing participants to focus on one another and the community. All Alternative Service Experience Programs are carbon netural and practice simple living.
Sign-ups for ASE programs happen through a lottery process. Lottery events happen throughout the year, based on the timing of when the ASE program will take place. On lottery night numbers are drawn randomly and participants sign up for the program of their choice until all programs are filled. Check out the Lottery page for more information.
We have a proxy process in place, which means you can have a friend stand in your place the night of the lottery. Have your friend bring your required deposit AND completed Lottery Packet to lottery. They will get a lottery number for you and when your number is called they can sign you up for a program. Give them ALL of your choices in a ranked order so they will know which program to sign you up for as they fill. They will also need to pick up all necessary forms/paperwork to give to you.
Driving Domestic: The cost for driving domestic programs is approximately $50 [Fall Break] and $200 [Spring Break]. The cost is the same for every program in a particular break season because we want students to choose a program based on the issue, not on the cost.
International: International program costs vary by location and program details, but you can expect to pay between $1500-$2000 (this includes airfare).
U.S. Based programs vary based off the availibility of our community partners. In the past we have worked on various social issues such as homelessness, food insecurity, conservation, poverty, and water access among others.
Yes, all programs are required to have a Learning Partner. Learning Partners can be faculty, staff, or graduate students (in special circumstances). The Learning Partner is an important member of the program team and contributes to group discussions and all activities. The Learning Partner adds experience and wisdom to the group and is able to assist the Peer Leaders if an emergency situation arises.
While a few programs work with organizations that are affiliated with a particular religion or are housed in a religious-affiliated building there is no requirement that participants participate in religious services.
U.S.Based: All programs travel in 12- or 15-passenger vans or mini-vans either sponsored by ASU’s Motorpool, other ASU departments or private rental companies. Participants will not be asked to drive. Peer Leaders and Learning Partners must be certified by ASU to drive. International: Programs travel through air and all prices include airfare.
Each program varies in terms of its eating and sleeping arrangements. Some organizations provide housing and meals, while others buy and cook their own food. The arrangements are made by the Peer Leaders on each program. In the past, programs have stayed at local churches, camped in tents, or stayed at the host agency.
U.S. Based programs consist of 8 student participants, 2 Peer Leaders, and 1 Learning Partner.
International programs vary but most consist of 12 student participants, 2 Peer Leaders, and 1 Learning Partner.
Recruitment for Peer Leaders is in the beginning of the fall semester, with applications available in the ACT Outreach Center. Potential leaders must submit an application, interview with the Alternative Service Experience Leadership Team, and commit to attendance at all leadership development and program planning meetings throughout the fall and spring semesters. Peer Leaders also attend a weekend fall retreat and a spring one-day retreat. Preference is given to applicants who have been on an programs before and are juniors and seniors. International Peer Leaders must have been on an International program before or have been a Peer Leader before.
The programs generally run the course of the break. We try to plan the programs so that we get back in time to recuperate before heading back to the classroom.
That varies depending on the purpose of the program. Below is a sampling of social issues that past programs have focused on:
- Hunger and Homelessness
- Rural or Urban Poverty
Alternative Service Experiences are one of many programs offered through the Office of Community-Engaged Leadership. Check out the Community-Engaged Leadership website to learn about other leadership opportunities!