Make a positive impact on students and communities across the world
Requirements for Branch Out International Membership
- Membership in Branch Out International (BOI) is open to student-led international alternative break trips.
- The alternative break must have been thoroughly researched – with at least one group member having visited the partner organization and developed a partnership and plan for the trip, in writing, before applying for BOI membership.
Branch Out International member teams must participate fully in BOI
- Two site leaders for each alternative break must attend and fully participate in training sessions on Thursday evenings from 5 to 6 pm. There will be six to eight training sessions after the fall retreat, meetings before and after teams depart and return, and one gathering in April.
- Both site leaders must attend and fully participate in the BOI training retreat, September 20-21, 2013.
- Recruitment must be coordinated through BOI, and we will recruit with one timeline in the Fall and one timeline in the Spring for all teams.
- Site leaders and team members must submit all required paperwork to the OCE on time; and
- Both site leaders must meet at least monthly with advisors.
- Site Leaders may have no more than three excused absences between them. Missing the training retreat, or more than three training or advising meetings, will result in a team’s removal from Branch Out International membership.
- All Branch Out International trips are alcohol and substance free. Site leaders agree to abide by this policy and ensure that their teams abide by the policy; any infractions of the policy will be addressed as required by Branch Out. (See more about the alcohol policy.)
- All applicants must schedule a brief meeting with Melody Porter and the Student Directors to discuss the application process before submitting their application. Email [[mcporter, Melody Porter]] to arrange this meeting before March 29.
- Any Branch Out break trips to countries on the State Department Travel Warning list must comply with the College's Travel Warning Policy, and be approved by the Travel Warning Review Committee. Branch Out alternative breaks are considered to be supported by the university.
Why Branch Out?
Groups of students have been coming together for international service for more than ten years at William and Mary. Branch Out helps teams develop their trips into alternative breaks: that is, their trips have a strong issue focus, are prepared for their travel with education about the issue, orientation to the site and training for the service, they reflect on their experience regularly, and they apply what they experience in their daily lives, becoming active citizens who value community in their life choices.
Branch Out also recognizes that international service is really difficult to do well. The United States is in a position of privilege in the world, and we often travel to our host communities with an invisible carry-on – the legacy of various kinds of US and Western involvement in those countries, both positive and negative. We also recognize that distance and language barriers can make it challenging to do effective, sustainable service, and that capacity-building projects are hard to develop for teams with limited professional skills and for host communities with little time to dedicate to designing complex volunteer projects.
all of this in mind, we are convinced that it is better to act, with
knowledge and sensitivity, than to refrain from traveling and developing
relationships with our neighbors across the world while working with
them to achieve their goals. We ask that all of our member teams keep
these things in mind as they develop their projects and relationships
with community partners.
In particular, Branch Out embraces these important values and practices in the work we do:
- projects are focused on building capacity for host communities, rather than providing unsustainable, one-time or short-term relief
- host site organizational leadership is provided by local community members, rather than US-based staff
- projects do not displace local labor; rather, groups create funds and resources to support self-sufficiency and dignity
- sites have taken appropriate safety measures for volunteers and staff (including lodging and transportation)
- the host contact is able to work with the alternative break model, developing projects that connect to a strong issue focus, and can communicate well in planning for their projects and appropriately guide the team in their work
- the team and host contact have both committed to a long-term (at least four year) partnership, but are prepared to end the partnership when the community need has been met
- the community has a high need for the service alternative breakers can provide
- the team has plans to educate their members on their social issue and its root causes, as well as the history of US involvement in the host country
- the team has plans to continue advocacy and action upon their return to their home community
- the team is committed to abiding by the principles advocated here, Branch Out’s alcohol free policy and other requirements of Branch Out membership.
While these standards may be difficult to implement in an alternative break, we must hold ourselves to the highest standards when we engage in such complex work with people who are struggling with real challenges.
In addition to support in developing strong alternative breaks, membership in Branch Out offers these benefits:
- training on the critical elements that lead to a high-quality alternative break (e.g. how to lead reflection, how to plan for issue education, team facilitation skills),
- connection to a larger organization, and the opportunity to learn from and contribute to other teams as well as Branch Out’s National and Regional branches,
- access to need-based financial aid funds for participants,
- collaboration in fundraising, recruitment and reorientation, and
- an on-call system in case emergencies arise while in-country.
Branch Out International Application Process
Site leaders apply on behalf of their teams for membership in Branch Out International. Applications will be reviewed by a committee including the Branch Out student directors and the Associate Director of Community Engagement. Applications are reviewed based on the partnership developed with the host site, positive impact made on community and students, preparation of student leaders, and congruence with the Branch Out alternative breaks mission and vision.
Applications for 2013-2014 are due Friday, March 29, 2013 at 5 pm by email to [[mcporter, Melody Porter]].
Please include your responses to each of the following questions in ONE Microsoft Word document, saved as the name of your team. You may include the letter from your community partner as a second document.
- Group name:
- Trip location:
- Number of students on team:
- Name of learning partner or advisor, if applicable:
- Travel dates:
- Names, email addresses, cell phone numbers and positions for executive board:
- How many team members will you be recruiting in the Fall? Spring?
- Social issue addressed, specifically and as if it were the topic of a course (e.g. “The High Cost of Cheap Energy: Combating the Impact of the Coal Industry on Appalachian Communities”):
- Community partner/agency name and contact person:
- Phone number:
- Email address and website:
- Mailing and physical address(es):
- Please attach an email or letter from your community partner, indicating their intended partnership with your team.
Contact Information In-Country
- Emergency phone number in-country (e.g. 911):
- Your team’s international cell phone number:
- Email address where you can be reached:
Compiling this information helps you to be prepared for your trip, and to inform your team of any concerns of which they should be aware. You may consider checking the State Department information about your host country to find current information.
- Transportation phone numbers (airlines, buses):
- Local police station location and phone number:
- Local US Embassy or Consulate location and phone number:
- Community partner contact numbers:
- Nearest hospital/clinic address:
- What health and safety concerns are you aware of (high crime rates, unique risks of disease, civil unrest, terrorism, etc.)?
Please include a complete copy of your trip budget here, including all trip costs (housing, program fees, etc.), fundraising costs, supplies, and projected income and sources.
- Total cost of trip:
- Total cost per participant:
- What are your projected sources of funding (including team member contributions, rollover from previous years, fundraising [individual and team])?
- What amounts did you fundraise last year, from team fundraisers, the BOI auction and letter writing? Please be specific.
- How do you allocate the proceeds from fundraising (i.e., to individuals or collectively for the team)?
- Describe three fundraisers you have planned for the coming year.
- Deposit amount and due date:
Please describe the partnership you have developed with your host site.
- What is the mission of the organization?
- What critical community need do they address?
- Describe the leadership of the organization.
- Have you discussed creating a long-term partnership that will end when community need is met? What understanding have you reached with the partner on this topic?
- What measures has the partner taken to ensure safety for your team, on site, in housing, and with transportation?
- What is your method of communication with the host site? How regularly do you communicate?
Please describe the project you plan to undertake while in country.
- What is the social justice issue you will be focusing on with your project(s)?
- What, specifically, will you achieve or complete while in country?
- How will your project build capacity for the community?
- How does your project plan avoid displacing local labor?
- How will you, your community partner and communities evaluate the effectiveness of your project and the larger goals of community development?
Please describe your plan to prepare and reorient your team.
- What is your plan to educate your team members on the social issue and its root causes, as well as the history of US involvement in the host country?
- How will you incorporate regular reflection into your alternative break?
- What is a specific activity for direct service or continued advocacy (reorientation) that you will do upon your return?
Please describe your interest in being part of Branch Out.
- What does your team want to gain from membership in Branch Out?
- What does your team want to contribute to Branch Out?
- Which of the following training topics are of most interest to you and your team? Why?
- Break Away and Branch Out
- Active citizenship
- Ethics in global service
- Developing a sustainable community partnership
- Pre-trip education, orientation and training
- Ensuring full engagement with your team
- Social justice, power and privilege
- US involvement in your country
- Building a strong team
- Risk management
- Please describe your team’s commitment to the alcohol-free policy, ability to attend regular trainings and submit requested paperwork and other items on time.