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Community Engagement & Service

Current Alternative Break Programs

Every year, the Center for Community Engagement and Service trains and sends groups of 10-15 students into their local and global communities to experience hands-on work with social justice issues. If you'd like more information, feel free to browse these pages, or check out our Facebook page and info session dates (in right sidebar).

While orientation, reorientation, and activism activities occur year-round, the direct engagement component of the programs takes place during the winter, spring, and summer breaks. Student leaders facilitate the experience from beginning to end under the guidance of a staff or faculty adviser, making Alternative Breaks unique opportunities for students in a world classroom.

An Alternative Break program is broken into the following three components:

1. Orientation: student participants are oriented about the social justice issue, the community partners they will work with, the Alternative Breaks approach, and other topics such as voluntourism.

2. Engagement: the student group travels to destination and works in a mutually beneficial partnership with their community partner. This can take many forms: meetings, service, trainings, labor, etc.

3. Reorientation and activism: students come back for reorientation meetings where they discuss what had happened during the engagement component and what steps they will take to make sure their community is aware of the issue. The Alternative Break student group plans and executes activism activities, which can include fundraisers, screenings, exhibits, lobbying/advocacy, writing, etc.

Below is a list of the 2016-2017 Alternative Breaks program. If you find a program that inspires you, you'll have to create a Center for Community Engagement Interest Profile through EngageNet (link on right side bar) before you can apply. You will be contacted for an interview after the application deadline.

 Winter 2016-2017 Programs

Race, Gender, and Health Beyond Borders

South Africa Alt Break 2016-2017

ENGAGEMENT: CAPE TOWN AND JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Become an advocate for equality beyond borders. Learn how race and gender identities affects the community and become an advocate for racial, health, environmental, gender, and economic equality beyond borders.

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It's Not Easy Being Green: The Intersectionality of Environmental and Human Rights

Kenya 2016-2017 Alt Break

ENGAGEMENT: NAIROBI, KENYA
Gain a deeper understanding the intersectionality between environmental and human rights issues from the viewpoints of both of the government and grassroots NGOs working in rural and urban Kenya.

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Ghosts of War: Post Conflict Recovery

LAOS 2016-2017 Alt Break

ENGAGEMENT: VIENTIANE, LUANG PRABANG, PHONSAVAN, LAOS
Learn about the barriers people face when lifting themselves out of poverty. Learn and work with farmers, small businesses, and humanitarian organizations. Come back to DC as a voice for Laotians.

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Ghosts of War: Post-Conflict Recovery

Vietnam_Alt Break

ENGAGEMENT: HO CHI MINH CITY, CO CHI, and HANOI VIETNAM

Explore the difficulties of post-conflict recovery in Vietnam by meeting with various organizations and government officials that work to clean up the hazards left behind from the war. Upon returning home, work to be effective advocates for victims of Agent Orange and other post-war hazards by serving as a voice in Washington.


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Apply to lead an Alternative Break Program

Apply to lead an alternative break in 2017-18

Thank you for all those who applied to lead a program in winter or spring of the 2017-2018 academic year! 

Applications will open soon to lead a summer (May) 2018 program. Reach out to our office to meet and discuss the application process and your ideas for programs. Summer applications will be due on June 24th, 2017. 

Start the application here!

Read one of our program blogs!

Click on a link below to learn more about each program from leaders and participants:


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 Spring 2017 Programs

Understanding Privilege of the Pocket

NOLA Alt Break 2016-2017

ENGAGEMENT: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
This program will focus on the effects of poverty in New Orleans, especially on youth of color and in the wake of natural disaster. 


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Fault Lines: The Successes and Failures of International Aid

Haiti Alt Break 2016-2017

ENGAGEMENT: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI
Learn first-hand the successes, failures, and continual challenges of the international aid efforts in Haiti. Engage with grassroots organizers in community health and local entrepreneurship. 

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Challenging the American Perception: The Cuba of Today

Cuba Alt Break Spring 2016-2017

ENGAGEMENT: HAVANA, CUBA
Participants will challenge the American perception, debunking myths about Cuba and learn about how Western neoliberalism is affecting Cubans. 

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Living Life on "Pause": The Intersection of Race and Sexuality in Urban America

Atlanta Alt Break 2016-2017

ENGAGEMENT: ATLANTA, GEORGIA 
Learn about the intersection of race and sexuality and its socioeconomic effects in Atlanta, the heart of Black gay culture, and become advocates for the prominent DC Black gay culture upon return. 

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Creative Impact for Youth Empowerment

Honduras Alt Break 2016-2017 - 2

ENGAGEMENT: EL PROGRESSO, HONDURAS 
Learn about youth empowerment initiatives and community development over spring break in Honduras. Then, come back to DC and examine the impact of local youth empowerment initiatives. 

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 Summer 2017 Programs

Between Life and Death for a Better Tomorrow: The Journey of a Migrant on the US-Mexico Border

US MEX BORDER Alt Break 2016-2017

ENGAGEMENT: MCALLEN, TEXAS, and TUCSON, ARIZONA
Learn about the many issues and themes concerning immigration and how it impacts the lives of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. 

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Cuban Contradictions, Comparisons, Creativity: a journey of racial and gendered self reflection

Cuba Alt Break

ENGAGEMENT: HAVANA, CUBA 
This program emphasizes intersectional racism with a focus on gender, sexuality, class, and religion in Cuban society. We will analyze and reflect upon the comparative systematic racism in Cuba and the U.S. 

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Important Information: Read Before Traveling

Alternative Breaks are challenging! Please read the following information to learn more about challenges for all trips and those specifically for international trips.

Read Travel Info

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Coming Soon

  1. Welcome, introductions & leader expectations

  2. Send-Off Celebration

  3. Group orientation and facilitation

Full Calendar