CampusLife

Community Engagement & Service

FAQ's: Frequently Asked Questions


PROSPECTIVE LEADERS
  • How can I be a student program leader?
  • Can I get credit for Alternative Break and how?
  • How much does it cost?
  • As an international student can I participate on or lead an Alternative Break program?
  • Can I lead a program after I graduate from AU?

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

PROSPECTIVE FACULTY
  • How can I become a staff/faculty advisor?

1. How do I apply to participate on an Alternative Break program? 
After attending information sessions and/or meeting with the leaders and reading about the current programs on the website, you may apply online via EngageNet by first creating an interest profile. Once the interest profile is completed, you may apply for any of the CCES programs, including Alternative Break programs. 

 

2. Who is eligible to participate on an Alternative Breaks program?

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 program 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 program.

5. How much does it cost?

Cost depends on the distance and length of time of the direct engagement component of the program. Domestic programs usually cost around $350 - $950, Latin America $1400 - $2200, Asia and Africa $3000 - $4,000. Program prices include group airfare, food, lodging, and all activities. Not included are visa and immunization costs. Program leaders' costs are either partially or fully subsidized.

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


6. How many people participate on a program?

10-15 participants.

2 student leaders and one staff or faculty advisor.

7. Are they open to graduate and undergraduate students?

Yes.

8. How can I be a program leader?

You must be a past participant or have equivalent experience, have knowledge of the pertinent  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 program's three components: orientation, direct engagement, and reorientation/activism. 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 program, you can connect with a student who needs a staff/faculty leader by contacting the Center for Community Engagement & Service. Faculty/staff advisers are responsible for supporting the student leaders through the program process, from orientation, direct engagement, and reorientation/activism.

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 programs.

If you choose to do the credit option for the program, 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 program?

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 programs'  destinations 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 direct engagement component of the program. 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 program! 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 programs, 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 programs take place?

Alternative Breaks programs require a full year commitment from their participants. 

Orientation activities take place in the semester prior to direct engagement and involve weekly trainings on the social justice issue, service-learning, and cross-cultural communication. 

The direct engagement component of Alternative Breaks take place over winter, spring, or summer break for two weeks, one week, and three weeks respectively. 

Finally, participants spend the semester after direct engagement working on activism projects and reorientation activities. 


17. Can I participate on or lead a program after I graduate from AU?

No.

18. I am an AU alum. Can I participate after I graduate from AU?

No.

19. Can non-AU students participate?

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


22. 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 program?

Yes, participants 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 program, 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 program. 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.

 

Contact us

 For more information, please contact:

Christine Gettings, Assistant Director of 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.