Estrada was invited by the Alternative
Breaks team to participate as an alumni
mentor for one of the program’s many
trips, a chance to roll up his sleeves and
really be a part of the impact. “I’ve always
been impressed by the experiences and
lessons learned that are shared by the
students. I thought that I should maybe
go and see it firsthand,” recalls Estrada.
“I was fortunate enough to be asked to join
Over spring break of 2016, Alternative
Breaks students partnered with the
nonprofit Appalachia Service Project to
provide volunteer service to those in need
in the most impoverished areas of
Appalachia. The team helped provide relief
for residents whose homes were in danger
of flooding due to torrential rains and poor
drainage systems. The team was so
efficient that they finished their first project
early and went on to help with a carpentry
project for another nearby family in need.
“We all really appreciated having Mike there
and hearing his perspective on things,”
says Alana Young, Marshall ' 18, one of the
trip's two student service leaders. “He was
extremely supportive and insightful.
He really took us under his wing.”
The Alternative Breaks experience is de-
signed so that the impact of the work stays
not only with those served, but also with
those making the difference. It is dedicat-
ed to creating globally conscious, active
citizens who commit to lifelong service well
beyond their time at UC San Diego. As part
of the trips, students reflect daily on what
they’ve learned from their project, with the
goal of keeping alive the spirt of giving back
long after the experience concludes.
Together, the Appalachia group reflected
on their work and the issues of poverty and
social inequality that they witnessed.
And they also shared several bottles of hot
sauce. So far from his home in Southern
California, Estrada made sure to equip the
team with a necessity in the field. “Before
we got to our destination, I insisted that we
pull over at a market to get a bottle of hot
sauce. It made me very popular,” he says.
“We shared that bottle at every single meal
and ended up buying a few others.”
According to Young, Estrada earned a new
nickname—“Mike Cholula”—for his favorite
brand of hot sauce. But more than a new
moniker, Estrada gained an out-of-the-box
life experience, one that made a profound
impact on him, his fellow Breakers, and the
many people they will help in the future.
Learn more about Alternative Breaks at UC
San Diego at alternativebreaksatucsd.org
or contact email@example.com to take part.
Every Alternative Breaks
service trip consists of
12 diverse individuals:
A COMMUNIT Y ADVISOR
serves as a resource for the entire
team. Alumni are encouraged to
reconnect and lend real-world
experience to the team.
TWO STUDENT SERVICE LEADERS
handle the trip logistics and lead
educational meetings exploring the
social issue to be addressed.
made up of students and alumni
provide different perspectives as the
group performs service projects.