CampusLife

Community Engagement & Service

FAQ's: Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I apply for an Alternative Break trip?
  • Who is eligible to go on an Alternative Break trip?
  • Can I get credit for Alternative Break and how?
  • Will I miss days of class?
  • How much does it cost?
  • How many people can go on the trips?
  • Are they open to graduate and undergraduate students?
  • How can I be a trip leader?
  • How can I become a staff/faculty advisor?
  • Is there financial aid or scholarships?
  • Who will be leading the trip?
  • What immunizations do I need?
  • Are the trips safe?
  • As an international student can I go on an Alternative Break Trip?
  • As a queer student what should I expect?
  • When do the trips happen?
  • Can I lead a trip after I graduate from AU?
  • I am an AU alum. Can I go on a trip after I graduate from AU?
  • Can non-AU students go?
  • Where are the trips going?
  • Can students with disabilities go on Alternative Breaks?
  • Can we do fundraising for our trip?
  • Why are Alternative Breaks alcohol free?


 

1. How do I apply for an Alternative Break trip?


Decide which trip you would like to go on by going to info sessions, meeting with the leaders and reading about them on the current trips section of this website. 

Apply on the online application system by creating an interest profile.

Once the interest profile is completed, you can apply for any of the CCES programs, including Alternative Break trips.

2. Who is eligible to go on an Alternative Break trip?
Currently enrolled American University students, both undergraduate and graduate part-time and full time degree seeking students (including Washington School of Law).

3. Can I get credit for Alternative Break and how?

Yes, you can register for SIS 386: Topics in Global Social Justice. Also, you can work with your trip leaders and/or professors for an independent study credit. Students who are above the 17 credit maximum will be responsible for paying for the additional credit hour.

4. Will I miss days of class?

No. You are not allowed to miss class for an alternative break trip.

5. How much does it cost?

Cost depends on the distance and length of time of the trip. Domestic trips cost around $350 - $950, Latin America $1400 - $2200, Asia and Africa $3000 - $4,000. Trip prices include group airfare, food, lodging, and all activities. Not included are visa and immunization costs.

As mentioned in question 3, academic credits above the maximum 17 are not included and would entail an additional cost.


6. How many people go on the trips?

10-15 participants.

2 student trip leaders and one staff or faculty advisor.

7. Are they open to graduate and undergraduate students?

Yes.

8. How can I be a trip leader?

You must be a past participant or have equivalent experience, have knowledge of an issue and the region, and have a demonstrated commitment to social justice. To be a leader and design a trip you must write a trip proposal outlining all details about the trip. You should make an appointment to speak with the Alternative Break coordinator about your ideas. For proposal application, please see Leader Info.

9. How can I become a staff/faculty advisor?

Students select staff or faculty of their choice with experience relevant to the trip social justice theme and destination. You must be full-time “exempt” faculty or staff at American University. If you are interested in accompanying a trip, you can connect with a student who needs a staff/faculty leader by contacting the Center for Community Engagement & Service .

10. Is there financial aid or scholarships?

Yes, some funds are available through a Travel Grant through our department. Check with the Center for Community Engagement and Service for current funds. Additionally, all groups are encouraged to fundraise to offset the cost of the trips.

If you choose to do the credit option for the trip, you may be able to apply your financial aid award to pay for the trip. Check with Student Accounts and Financial Aid offices to discuss this possibility.

11. Who will be leading the trip?

One or two student leaders and a staff/faculty advisor.

12. What immunizations do I need?

You are responsible for talking with your physician and looking on the Center for Disease Control website to make informed choices of which immunizations you will need. Search for your destination country on the travel health page.

Travel Clinic near American University:

Foxhall Internists

3301 New Mexico Ave., NWSuite 348Washington, D.C. 20016

Phone: 202.362.4467

Fax: 202.362.2303

 

13. Are the trips safe?

Student leaders work with the Center for Community Engagement and Service to create a safe, educational and service-oriented itinerary and curriculum for the trip. All travel, domestic and international, comes with a level of risk that students should be aware of. Students should research their destination and take all safety precautions necessary. See safety and health for resources.

 14. As an international student can I go on an Alternative Break Trip?
International students are very welcome to join an Alternative Break trip! Talk to International Student and Scholar Services about travel requirements such as visa regulations.

15. As a queer student what should I expect?

Alternative Breaks are queer friendly and often work together with the GLBTA office to plan queer social justice themes for trips, such as queer youth homelessness in San Franscisco. Please read the articles from GLBT Peace Corps Alumni for discussions of issues to be aware of in international travel. Also please visit AU's GLBTA Resource Center here.

16. When do the trips happen?

Winter, spring, and summer breaks. Trips usually last for two weeks during winter break, 10 days for spring break and up to three weeks during summer break.

17. Can I go on or lead a trip after I graduate from AU?

No.

18. I am an AU alum. Can I go on a trip after I graduate from AU?

No.

19. Can non-AU students go?

No. You must be an enrolled AU student to participate.

20. Where are the trips going?

Trip destinations change every year, depending on student interest. Look at current trips for this year's destinations.

21. Can students with disabilities go on Alternative Breaks?

The Alternative Break program makes every effort to ensure that students with disabilities can participate successfully in Alternative Break programs. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee that facilities or support services will be available at each location abroad in the same range and quality as on the AU campus.

We encourage students with disabilities to meet with staff in the Academic Support Center (ASC) or Disability Support Services (DSS) to discuss accommodation needs and identify appropriate sites overseas. Please contact Disability Support Services at 202-885-3315 or the Academic Support Center at 202-885-3360. They're more than happy to work with you on the subject.

22. Can we do fundraising for our trip?

Yes, participants on trips can solicit funds from individuals or businesses.

To make a tax deductible donation online, click here.
Click on the button that says "Designations", then select "Alternative Breaks" under "The Student Experience". Finally, if you'd like it to go to a specific trip, write in the name of the trip in the Special Instructions box.

To make a tax deductible donation with a check, checks can be made out to "American University" and mailed to the American University Development Office.

Mail checks to:
Office of Annual Giving
American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20077-4916
Attn: Alternative Breaks {trip name}

Donations are only tax deductible if they are done through the AU Development Office and cannot benefit an individual student. Donations are distributed equally among all participants for that specific trip. All remaining funds are added to the Alternative Break Travel Grant Fund for students with financial need.

To donate to an individual student, please mail a check to the student directly (not tax deductible, but will help that student greatly!).

23. Why are Alternative Breaks alcohol free?

Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. Alcohol affects group dynamics, participant safety, the local community, the university, and the national alternative break student movement. As members of the alternative breaks organization, Break Away, we adhere to the 8 Quality Components, including alcohol free breaks.

For more information on Alternative Breaks at American University please contact:


Shoshanna Sumka, Assistant Director for Global Learning and Leadership
Email: altbreak@american.edu
Phone: 202-885-2684

You can also stop by and see us in the Center for Community Engagement & Service , Mary Graydon Center 273.