November 26th

Meet Rachael Watson!

Year: Junior
Major: Communication Studies, Minor: Leadership Studies

We asked Rachael to answer some questions for us about why she decided to participate in Alternative Breaks and what she loves most about it. So here are her answers!


Have you participated in Alternative Breaks before? If so, which one(s)? 

This semester is the first time I have participated in Alternative Breaks and now that I’m hooked, I plan to keep participating! So far, I have participated in a Weekend Alternative Break hosted by the Kansas Neurological Institute, a Weekend Alternative Break hosted by Just Food, and I am enrolled in the Alternative Winter Breaks program as one of two site leaders of a group headed to Project Open Hand located in Atlanta, Georgia this January.

Why did you apply for Alternative Break and why did you pick the site you did?
I applied for the Alternative Breaks program because I felt it would provide a wonderful opportunity to serve others instead of hanging around the house this winter. Moreover, I believe Alternative Breaks are an opportunity to observe the types of challenges various organizations and individuals face, to observe how others approach those challenges, and to learn from the many perspectives of others. I picked the site I did for those reasons and because I very much believe in what they do, which encompasses a lot, such as: working to comprehensively address food and nutrition security, particularly as it relates to recovery from and prevention of disease, as well as providing support for the aging and working with surrounding community agencies to provide support for clients in the area and their families. All too often, we focus on one part of the bigger puzzle- we might take on the food insecurity but ignore the nutrition or take on the nutrition and leave out the disease, or we might even seek to take on all those things, but leave out the client’s family. We also have a habit in this country of taking on whatever cause is on television for as long as it’s popular, and unfortunately we just don’t pay that much attention to the elderly unless they’re entertaining us in a Youtube video—and that’s a problem.

What is your favorite thing about Alternative Breaks?
I think my favorite thing about Alternative Breaks is that the program creates such accessible opportunities to experience service alongside other students from a range of backgrounds, in a way that is genuinely beneficial to the participating organization.

What is your favorite thing you have learned so far?
As a participant of the Alt Winter Breaks, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing discussions every week with a group of people who are engaged in learning more about the world and themselves- that’s pretty cool. We’ve had several guest speakers who, despite expectations weren’t cheesy at all but relatable and incredibly informative and I’ve really enjoyed that as well.

I really like that many of the things we’ve discussed in the Winter Alt Breaks class are in sync with topics I’m currently exploring in my communications, leadership, and wgss courses. When Blane Harding, the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at KU spoke with the Winter Alt Breaks class, some of these ideas were expanded upon and I learned new ways to articulate ideas; the difference between equality and equity, for example and though I’ve discussed perception and appropriation before, expressing various groups as ‘minoritized’ blew my mind. I love that we’re learning the tools and skills to be able to actually do something about the things we care about.

If you have been on a break before, what is your favorite memory?
During my recent Weekend Break to KNI, we received drawings from the residents as a thank-you for visiting. This will sound really cheesy, but I realized that this meant they had looked forward to our visit before we even got there. That was really cool. We assembled and decorated containers for use in delivery of Thanksgiving dinner and we just had a fun time connecting with each other, listening to music, and getting glitter on everything. It was a great afternoon!

What is a random fact about yourself?
I can set up a tent in the dark- but I cannot say the ABCs backwards for anything!


If Rachael has said makes you want to learn, grow and serve with us, you can apply for an Alternative Spring Break here!