Mizzou Alternative Breaks celebrates 25th anniversary

MAB Director of Community Outreach Kaylyn Shinault: “It’s funny how in 1991, we went on three trips. It’s fascinating because that’s just proof of how powerful service can be.”

The popular student organization Mizzou Alternative Breaks has grown tremendously since its beginning 25 years ago and now organizes over 100 service-based trips each year locally, nationally and abroad.

“The most important primary aspect is facilitating active citizenship,” said Kaylyn Shinault, MAB’s director of community outreach. “Service isn’t just about fixing a program. It’s more about learning about these (communities of) people. They give (you) just as much to you as you give to them. By doing so you learn about them, you learn about where they come from, you learn about who they are, you learn about their community and their experiences.”

MAB began when the program facilitated a few trips over spring break in 1991. It has since grown to become the largest alternative breaks organization in the nation.

Director of Education and Leadership Erin Achenbach said that other universities often send faculty members along with students on trips, but Mizzou’s program is special because it is entirely student-run.

“It’s nice to be the largest program, but that’s not our goal,” Achenbach said. “Our goal is to send out trips that help people learn and give back to our community.”

Achenbach said that MAB’s success has come from the surge of support they have received from the student body in recent years.

The organization will facilitate trips this coming summer for the first time since it began and have the goal to reach every county in Missouri by 2020.

Shinault said that MAB is constantly looking to grow in order to serve more and more communities, but that the organization is also interested in growing in quality. She said that MAB has become such a large and important organization because it offers not only a chance to serve others, but a chance for MU students to find genuine friendships as well, calling her first trip with the organization “the best experience of my life.”

“The biggest thing that was so unique was the power of vulnerability,” Shinault said. “MAB is this mysterious kind of entity where you go on this trip and everybody is so vulnerable because they’re taken out of their social context and just truly show their genuine person which facilitates a lot of genuine connection.”

Schinault also said MAB’s growth as an organization is incredible. She said MAB has been successful because it allows students to feel a strong connection to something greater than themselves.

“It’s funny how in 1991 we went on three trips,” Schinault said. “It’s fascinating because that’s just proof of how powerful service can be.”

Edited by Taylor Blatchford | tblatchford@themaneater.com

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