Special Trips

Alternative Break Trips for the ResEd Experience

The Volunteer Center and Residential Education are partnering to offer the Alternative Breaks as part of the ResEd Experience to the residents of several of its residential colleges. We piloted this partnership in 2017-2018 with AWB Hurricane Relief and ASB Utah, and we hope to offer more opportunities every year.

USC Village residents may apply to the ResEd Experience trip belonging to their respective ResEd college and/or to the AB trips open to everyone. ResEd trips are free for resident of that college, but – once you accept – there is a cancellation fee if you drop from the trip. Grants and fundraising opportunities are available for the general Volunteer Center Alternative Break Trips.

Click below to read a trip’s description or scroll down to learn about our trips for ResEd’s USC Village:

Alternative Breaks open to all students regardless of residence:

Trip Title:  “Cale & Irani: Community Impact at Refugio Rafael in Cochabamba, Bolivia”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application
  October 29, 2018 (or until we receive the first 40 applications, whichever comes first)
Trip Dates:  March 9, 2019 – March 17, 2019
Capacity:  12 students and 2 advisors

This trip is for Cale & Irani residents only.  “Community Impact at Refugio Rafael” focuses on the impact that can be made by a vibrant and sustainable local community center project.  Refugio Rafael, our host center for this trip, is a housing/community project for single parents who have faced severe emergencies that have led to challenges in being able to house, feed, educate, and care for their families.  Presently, the center is predominantly accessed by single mothers and their children.  Refugio Rafael supports these single mothers in their effort to become independent and to help bring their children into the education system (most come from outlying country areas and the children are far behind in school).  Refugio Rafael supports various strategies for integration into the community via educational support, economic development, medical support, and more.

While on this trip participants will volunteer at the after school program which will include helping with homework, art projects, and playing sports. There will also be time spent working with the families at the center with gardening projects, bread making, house repairs, and handcrafting.  There will also be time spent exploring Bolivia and gaining a better understanding of its rich culture by way of visits to schools, markets, and the nearby city of Cochabamba.  The trip will also include a special visit to Toro Toro, which is known as one of Bolivia’s most magical national parks.

Trip Leader(s): 

Gustavo Orellana is the Residential College Coordinator for the Cale & Irani Residential Colleges. He was born and raised in Northern California. Gustavo received a B.A. in Chicano/a Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with a Masters in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the Rossier School of Education here at USC. He was a graduate assistant in Residential Education for two years before joining the department full time in 2018. Through the previous professional experiences as an Assistant Resident Director at UCSB and a Resident Director at the Academy of Art University, Gustavo developed a passion in working with high caliber, passionate and dedicated students and cherishes the new challenges that each day brings in working with college-aged students. Some of his passions outside of work include exploring different parts of Los Angeles (especially through food), sporting events, and all things Bay Area!

Debra Allen is the Assistant Director for the USC Village. Debra received her M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University and her B.A. in Anthropology and Modern Languages at Beloit College. Debra has lived abroad as well as studied abroad in Portugal. Her student affairs experience spans residence life, international education, student union programming, leadership development, honors and scholars programs, service-learning, and social justice work. Debra’s international education experience focused on setting up and leading numerous short-term study abroad programs for undergraduate students. She spent several years working at The Ohio State University and most recently comes to us from Cal State Northridge where she worked as a Senior Community Director for six years. Her emphasis at Cal State Northridge was with the First-Year Experience Living Learning Community as well as management of the Community Center that served residential students. Debra has also been an active member of the Western Association of College and University Housing Officers since 2010. In her spare time, Debra likes to go on hikes and bike rides with her pup “Pete”, attend live music venues, go to the beach, and explore her hometown of Los Angeles.

Approximate Cost:  Free – Note: this trip is reserved for Cale & Irani College Residents (Cancellation Fee applies if you drop from the trip after confirming your acceptance)

Info Sessions for Bolivia:
Tuesday, October 23, 2018 @ 9:15 pm in McCarthy 1100

Costa Rica

Trip Title: “Nemirovsky and Bohnett: Assisting Communities With Local Sustainability Projects”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application
Deadline: October 15, 2018 (or until we receive the first 40 applications, whichever comes first)
Trip Dates
: December 13, 2018-December 20,2018
Capacity: 10 students and 2 advisors

Journey to the expanses of deep rainforest and jungle, towering volcanoes, and stretches of beaches that embody la costa rica. Renown for its incredible biodiversity, Costa Rica’s jungles hold a remarkable 500,000 species including a wide variety of birds, monkeys, frogs, sloths, big cats, and reptile species including the world’s fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana. Travel to this part of the Central American isthmus and experience its natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

ASB Costa Rica participants will stay with host families in the town of Pejibaye, meet the local community and explore the food and culture. Students will be rotating between community services with local sustainability projects within the community of Pejibaye. In the afternoon, we will spend time with local town people, performing cultural activities, and sharing typical dishes.

Participants will also explore the cultural remains from the oldest known settlements in the Turrialba Valley, once home to the original hunter-gathers of Costa Rica. This will include a visit to a farm that has many sustainable practices. Then, we will drive to the entrance of the Pacuare River, mentioned by National Geographic as one of the top five rafting destinations in the world. Experience whitewater rafting on the rapids and then sleep in the Ecolodge surrounded by rainforests, with the sights and sounds of wildlife echoing in the canyons around us. There will also be several scenic hikes (approx 3 miles) through the rainforest and a tour of an indigenous family farm.

Live la pura vida, the pure life, and volunteer with us as we learn to preserve the culture and natural environment of Costa Rica.

Trip Leader(s):
Tyler Benateigha is the Residential College Coordinator for Nemirovsky & Bohnett Residential Colleges.  Tyler grew up in Longmont, Colorado and studied History at Colorado State University before earning his master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Connecticut.  Tyler has a passion for working in Residential Education and helping create communities where residents feel they belong and can be successful.  In his free time, Tyler enjoys spending time with his partner and his dog, both of whom live with him at USC!  Tyler’s favorite sport to play is volleyball but also digs football and ultimate frisbee.  He enjoys many TV series including Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Sense 8, Parks and Rec, and more!  His other passions include puns, pizza, guacamole (one of the few things he is good at making), secret handshakes, dancing,


Kevin Villalta is the Residential Community Coordinator for the Graduate and Family Housing West. Kevin has worked for several years within the residential education programs at UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge. Kevin also has experience in the field of clinical social work having provided mental health therapy services for children, families, and adults from underserved communities in LA County. His passions within residential education include health promotion, first-generation student success, social justice education, and student leadership. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys attending live concerts, exploring art museums, traveling, bowling, and karaoke with friends and family.


Approximate Cost: Free – Note: this trip is reserved for Nemirovsky and Bohnett College Residents (Cancellation Fee applies if you drop from the trip after confirming your acceptance)

Info Sessions for Costa Rica: 




Trip Title: “McCarthy Honors: Making a Difference in the Lives of Rescued Animals in Utah”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application
Deadline: October 15, 2018 (or until we receive the first 40 applications, whichever comes first)
Trip Dates: Approximately March 9, 2019-March 16, 2019
Capacity: 10 students, 1 graduate assistant, and 1 advisor

This trip is for McCarthy Honors College residents only. Around the World, countless animals wander the streets homeless looking for food and shelter. Some establishments, like community animal shelters, provide temporary housing and attempt to find these animals permanent homes. But due to their large numbers paired with shelters’ lack of space and low funds, many animals face euthanasia. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized each year in the US. That is approximately 7,397 adoptable cats and dogs that are euthanized every day- and that is just in the US! Organizations like the Best Friends Animal Society and other non-kill organizations provide safe homes for rescued and abandoned animals until they are adopted. 

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Utah is a service-based trip that aims to address issues concerning animal rights. In partnership with the Best Friends Animal Society-Utah, the largest animal society in the nation which houses around 1,600 homeless animals, ASB Utah will have a chance to help the animals both directly and indirectly. Participants will do service projects like trail work, light landscaping, painting and cleaning dog and cat buildings as well as have a chance to work hands-on with the animals at the sanctuary. From walking dogs to brushing cats to giving pigs belly rubs, there are a variety of things to do for all animal lovers who want to make an impact! Best Friends’ Animal Sanctuary located in Kanab, Utah has 8 separate animal areas: Cat World, Bunny House, Parrot Garden, Dogtown, Piggy Paradise, Horse Haven, Rescued Village Rabbits, and Wild Friends designated to suit the needs of each and every animal. Each and every one of the animals at the sanctuary has his or her own unique personality and are waiting to find the perfect family to call their own. Apply to meet them all and to help make an impact on their lives! 

You will also have the chance to explore Kanab, Utah which is known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures. Viewing the milky way at Bryce Canyon National Park and exploring the beauty of Zion Natural Park are just a few trips ASB Utah has in store! The trips costs include housing, meals, transportation, and cultural excursions. 

Watch this video from Best Friends Animal Society for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2v9eauLajU

Trip Leader:
Sally Behpoornia is the Residential College Coordinator for McCarthy Honors Residential College in the USC Village. She was born and raised in Southern California. Sally has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master’s Degree in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the Rossier School of Education here at USC. She will be starting the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program at USC in Fall 2017. She was a graduate assistant in Residential Education for two years before joining the department full time in 2015. As a graduate student, Sally grew to love the Trojan Family and the amazing experience that comes with being a part of the Family. She is committed to providing an incredible residential experience to our students and wants to help students navigate a successful transition to college. Some of her passion areas outside of work include exploring different parts of Los Angeles, attending sporting events, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.

Approximate Cost: Free – Note: this trip is reserved for McCarthy Honors College Residents (Cancellation Fee applies if you drop after drop deadline)

Info Sessions for Utah:
Tuesday 10/2 @ 7:00 pm  in McCarthy MPR 1501 (under the Freeberg Bridge next to Amazon) – no RSVP required
Monday 10/8 @ 5:00 pm  in McCarthy MPR 1100 – no RSVP required


Follow us on social media or subscribe to our Newsletter for updates about AB 2018-2019.
For general questions about the Alternative Spring Break Program, email us at asb@usc.edu.
For more information about specific trips, email the trips directly or RSVP for a trip info session!

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