Alternative Break Past Trips
PAST TRIPS: SUSTAINED COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
Trips can focus on one or more of the suggested social justice topics, based on existing relationships with community partner organizations. The Center for Community Engagement & Service has materials related to all of these past trips. Please schedule a meeting to request information about the community partners.
Social Justice Topics: Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, Women’s Empowerment
Social Justice Topics: Race, Class, Gender, Youth, Health, Labor, HIV/AIDS
Social Justice Topics: Democracy, Human Rights, Refugees, Political Process, Minority Groups, Political Prisoners, Gender
Social Justice Topics: Post-Conflict Development, Education, Women’s Empowerment, Youth
Social Justice Topics: Rural Education, Community Organizing, Women’s Empowerment, Microfinance, Grassroots Development, Access To Health Care
Israel and Palestine
Social Justice Topics: African Refugees, Grassroots Peace Movement, Non-Violent Resistance Movements
Social Justice Topics: Youth Political Engagement, Identity, Informal Settlements, International Development, Environmental Justice
Social Justice Topics: Anti-Discrimination Law, Roma, LGBTQ, and People With Disabilities
Social Justice Topics: Education, The Embargo, Economics
Social Justice Topics: Caste Based-Discrimination, Dalit Rights, Women’s Rights
Social Justice Topics: Tibetan Refugees, Cultural Preservation, Politics, Environment
Social Justice Topics: Human Rights, US Military Involvement, Labor Rights, Multinational Corporations, Afro-Colombian Rights, Internally Displaced People
Social Justice Topics: Peace Building, Conflict Resolution, Education
Social Justice Topics: Environmental Resistance, Resource Extraction, Indigenous Peoples Rights, Cultural Preservation
Social Justice Topics: Community Development, HIV/AIDS, Access To Health Care
Social Justice Topics: Democracy, Human Rights, Immigration
Social Justice Topics: Racial Disparities Of HIV Epidemic, Post-Katrina Rebuilding, Government Disaster Response
Social Justice Topics: Inequalities In Education, HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Hunger And Homelessness, Gentrification And Community Organizing
Social Justice Topics: Queer Youth Homelessness, Prison Justice, Prison Industrial Complex
Social Justice Topics: Native American Rights, Uranium Mining, Environmental Justice
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Social Justice Topics: Education, Native American Rights, Youth Development, Poverty
Social Justice Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Immigration Reform
Social Justice Topics: Youth Empowerment, Food Security
Social Justice Topics: Environmental Justice, Coal Mining, Community Organizing
Past Trip Descriptions:
HIV/AIDS in Zambia
On this trip students worked with leading NGOs and learned mechanisms for dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Students stayed in Lusaka working with orphanages and visited rural areas in Zambia where they saw first hand the impact of HIV/AIDS, and spoke with the youth of the country as to how they are dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A short trip to Livingston, home of Victoria Falls, ended the trip.
Guatemala: Fair Trade Coffee
The trip to Guatemala was born out of organizing on campus during 2004-2005 for fair trade coffee. In the end, because of student activism, a fair trade coffee company, Pura Vida, won the contract over Starbucks. Riding on the momentum and alliances built, student coordinators organized a trip to Pura Vida’s coffee plantations in Guatemala. The trip had financial support from the company as well as Bon Apetit. The on-the-ground logistics were organized by a group called Bridge Builders who led educational discussions on fair trade and sustainable development.
Honduras: Political Realities
Joe Eldridge, University Chaplain, initiated the Alternative Break program in 1998 with a trip to Honduras to do rebuilding after hurricane Mitch. He has extensive knowledge of the region and contacts in all levels of civil society. Students learned a lot and had transformative experiences in meetings with government and non-government officials, a visit to a maquila factory, and volunteer work with a youth empowerment organization.
Economic development in Vietnam
Appalachia: Rural Poverty and Community Development
The trip partnered with the organization Beans and Rice, Inc. who planned the educational as well as service components of the trip. Students worked with youth programs and did construction work, while they attended workshops that lead towards a certificate in community development.
Belize: Garifuna Culture
Two students from Caribbean circle club led this trip. The theme of the trip was to examine social, political and cultural issues in Belize, focusing on the Garifuna population in the coastal areas. Student participants reported having a positive experience and built strong relationships with members of the Garifuna community. They did volunteer work with community partners in schools, women’s organizations, and AIDS awareness.
Free Burma Coalition in Thailand
The Thailand trip joined in solidarity with the Burmese democracy movement. Students critically examined refugee issues, US sanctions on Burma, governance within the Burmese government in exile and other sociopolitical organizations within the democracy movement, as well as the role of international institutions in responding to the complex humanitarian and political challenges to development in Burma.
Indigenous rights in Chiapas, Mexico
Mexico/U.S. Border: Immigrant Rights
This trip went to Tucson, AZ and towns in Mexico along the border. Students examined multiple sides of the immigration rights issue in the US by meeting with human rights groups, vigilantes, border guards, religious activists and a fair trade coffee cooperative. The students returned invigorated to work on the issues learned and jumped right in to the immigration protests that were held in Washington.
Nicaragua: Labor issues & CAFTA
Students traveled to Managua and focused on CAFTA and its impact on labor and trade in Nicaragua. Students met with key players on these issues as well as spent two days in a rural community volunteering with farmers and school teachers.
Ecuador: Indigenous Rights and the Environment
Students lived for a week in an indigenous area in the Andes mountains and a week with an indigenous community in the Amazon. The theme of indigenous people and the environment was explored through speakers, meetings, talking with community leaders and being immersed in daily life.
Ecuador: Land Rights in Indigenous Communities
This trip focused on the indigenous movement in the culturally and ecologically diverse country of Ecuador. Specifically they look at issues of identity and globalization as shaping forces in the struggle for environmental and land rights for Kichwa Indian communities in the Sierra (Andes) region and the Oriente (Amazon) region. Students will learn about nonviolent activism and the methods these communities are using to protect their rights in the face of globalization and development projects. This trip is part of the continuing project to create a documentary film with the Sarayacu Kichwa community in the Oriente that is fighting oil extraction on their land. While staying in Amazon and Andes communities, students will have the opportunity to learn from another culture and open dialogue on issues such as globalization, resource extraction, activism, mobilization and environmental and land rights.
Guatemala: Fair Trade
This social justice trip focused on indigenous sustainable development, the positive and the negative aspects of fair trade and eco-tourism, and the preservation of the environment Central America. We plan on staying in several rural, Quechi indigenous communities throughout the two-week expedition, staying in eco-lodges, working in schools and orphanages while exploring the great natural resources of Guatemala. Through community engagement we will explore the social justice themes with hands on interaction and activities with the people of Guatemala. We can experience a small part of their lives, learning about fair trade and sustainable development from their prospective. The trip will prove to be invaluable to make the connection between global trade, US policy and Pura Vida fair trade coffee on the AU campus.
South Africa: Women’s Initiative in Apartheid and AIDS
The post apartheid era has changed the lives of many South African women and their families. This Alternative Break to South Africa will focus on the transformation of the women’s movement from the time of the apartheid to an era where AIDS is prevalent. Participants will experience how wealth, poverty and health became determinants in the outcome of the women’s movement. The trip will travel to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, visiting & meeting with NGO’s, women’s organizations, government officials, and volunteering with orphanages.
Biloxi, Mississippi: Community Renewal
Students joined Hands On Network in rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. Particularly we will focus on social inequalities that exist in urban communities while specifically highlighting the racial and socioeconomic issues that emerged during the aftermath of the hurricane. The group will meet with community activists working in Biloxi to oppose a proposed casino in their neighborhood.
Chicago: Empowering Urban Youth
Social justice reflects the way in which human rights are manifested in the daily lives of individuals. Unfortunately, the United States does not ensure that all persons are afforded equity in access to rights. Youth under the age of 18, for instance, have unequal access to material needs. Of all age groups, youth have the highest proportion of persons in poverty. Children are also systematically disadvantaged within the education systems, as many at-risk children are sent to schools that lack equitable financial resources, practice systematic racism in tracking students into different levels according to race, or do not have the necessary support systems available. To exacerbate the problem, children often do not have voice on the issues that affect their equal access to human rights, as they are not able to vote and may feel limited in what they can do otherwise.
On this trip students learned to critique inequality and create societal betterment through observation and direct work with an organization that works with youth.
The trip worked with P.E.A.C.E.: People Educated Against Crime in Englewood. Students will work with children in the after school program to create an empowering mural with the children. Other organizations include the Chicago Food Repository and a Hunger Lesson, Urban Youth Journalism, the Hull House Museum and the Peace Musuem.
San Francisco: Prison Justice
The trip focused on the complexities of the US current retributive justice system and examine the problematic aspects of such a system. Some issues that will be addressed while working in San Francisco are: women prisoners, youth in prison, government response to the system, a prison visit, prison abolitionist groups, inmate art, GLBTQ prisoners, and death penalty eradication.
Community engagement possibilities will include volunteering and/or meeting with groups such as CA Coalition for Women Prisoners, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Copwatch, ACLU Prison Project, Critical Resistance, Books Not Bars, and the Prison Activist Resource Center.
South Dakota: The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
The trip focused on the recognizing the US Federal Government’s marginalization of American Indians and try and work on solutions to the economic and living situation on the reservation. The trip will attempt to give trip participants an understanding of the true history of US-native relations and policy. Students will learn about the various policy attempts by the US government to address American Indians, from assimilation policy to land distribution policy.
Students will be immersed in the Sioux community as much as possible. Service activities may include: visiting or assisting in various shelters, visiting a rehabilitation center, working in an Indian Health Service hospital, working with the Little Wound Elementary school’s Head Start Program, and/or preparing a one to two day conference for students interested in learning about how to open up a small business. The trip will also visit key geographic and sacred sites such as the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse memorial.
Washington, DC: HIV/AIDS Policy, Education, and Public Health
This trip focused on AIDS Policy and Health Practices in Washington, DC. Washington, DC has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate for any metropolitan area in the United States. Members of the GLBT community and of minority groups are highly active in dealing with AIDS issues. Recently, public officials have made calls for universal AIDS testing for all DC residents. In addition to exploring the larger social issues related to HIV/AIDS in DC, the trip will include lobbying the appropriate members of local and federal government about relevant policies pertaining to funding for AIDS education, prevention, and treatment programs in the District. The trip will also focus on service to HIV and AIDS patients in DC.
Some organizations and groups that the trip met with and/or worked with are: MetroTeen AIDS, Whitman Walker Clinic, DC Congresswoman Norton, DC Department of Public Health, DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, National Minority AIDS Education and Training Center and the Women’s Collective.
Venezuela: Chavez’s Social Reforms
Alumni Update Article, April 2007, on Venezuela Trip
Global Exchange facilitated this trip that focused on social reforms and changes in leadership in Venezuela today. Chavez has made some radical changes, and the trip looked at the portrayal by the US media and government. We will saw these reforms and changes firsthand through visiting missions (centers for social services) in the countryside and in the urban areas. We were in Caracas and spent two nights in a coastal Afro-Venezuelan community. We exchanged with students at a university in Caracas.
Educational and medical centers set up around the country are called missions. These are very new and are a part of the attempt by Chavez and his administration to spread wealth and opportunity throughout the Venezuelan population.
Other meetings were held with: Telesur, Bolivarian University, Barrio 23 de Enero, Colectivo Alexis Vive, Radio Comunitario Petare, Venezuela’s National Petroleum company, BANMUJER (Banco de la Mujer, the Women’s Bank), and more…
Bolivia: Indigenous Rights and the Presidency of Evo Morales
The main focus of this trip will be the plight of the indigenous people of Bolivia. While Bolivia maintains the same unstable political climate it has since the arrival of the conquistadors, things are beginning to take an interesting turn. Just this year, Evo Morales became the first indigenous President of Bolivia, and like most leaders, he promised his people that he would focus on the national interest of his nation. His pledges, however, were different in the sense that they focused on the national interest of the majority of Bolivians: the indigenous peoples. We would like part of the trip to deal with Morales’ policies and investigate how all aspects of Bolivia, not just political areas have changed during his year in office. We plan on visiting local indigenous groups who are fighting for power and those losing (poorer marginalized neighborhoods). We would also like to meet with government officials to learn their prerogative firsthand. We hope to find an organization which works on micro financing, specifically with indigenous peoples.
Brazil: Landless Peasants Movement (MST)
This trip focused on the successful model of community organizing exhibited by the Movimento dos Trabalhadored Rurais Sem Terra (MST). This group proposes a more just and sustainable alternative of social organization to the unjust land distribution of Brazil. Ideally, our trip will include service in helping with the building of the University of the Land, and will emphasize community engagement through dialogue with the members of the MST and their opposition.
We hope that students will be able to gain an understanding of alternatives to the injustices of globalization through knowledge of the methods and values of the community of the MST. We hope that students will be able to take aspects of this model to be applied in their own communities and perhaps on our campus, as the search for alternative socio-economic models becomes more and more necessary.
Thailand/Burma Border: Burmese Democracy Movement
This trip will focus on the human rights violations facing the Burmese people, including those living inside the country and the Burmese refugees living on the Thai-Burma border. It will also emphasize how the people within the movement are working towards democracy and social equality within their country, and how the international community can act in solidarity with their struggle for a free Burma.
Through various meetings with exiled political parties, women’s organizations, Western and Thai NGOs, refugees, migrant workers, and former political prisoners, we hope students will gain a broader understanding of the socio-economic, political and historical situation of the Burmese people.
If you want to learn more information on the conflict in Burma, check out the US Campaign for Burma, the NGO started by AU grad, Jeremy Woodrum.
This trip focused on the environmental issues in China. Students learned about China's energy system, work with Chinese environmental NGO's, compare the differences between East and West, rural and urban and have the opportunity to speak with local university students.
The trip will also focus on indoor air pollution, which is the leading cause of death among young children in China. Students will meet with the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air which address issues such as renewable energy, deforestation, and health. Students will visit the Nature Conservancy in Lijiang.