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
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.
It's Not Easy Being Green: The Intersectionality of Environmental and Human Rights
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.
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.
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.
Fault Lines: The Successes and Failures of International Aid
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.
Living Life on "Pause": The Intersection of Race and Sexuality in Urban America
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.
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.
ENGAGEMENT: SOUTH KOREA We will focus on the North Korean refugee social integration in South Korea. The program will engage with the North Korean refugee population living in South Korea, focusing on the educational support for North Koreans and social entrepreneurship.
Cuban Contradictions, Comparisons, Creativity: a journey of racial and gendered self reflection
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.