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Alternative Break Leader Experience

Why choose to be an Alternative Break student leader?

Student leadership is what makes the Alternative Break Program so unique. Students develop and implement complex and transformative programs driven by the social justice issues that inspire and drive them. The Alt Break office provides guidance, training, and leadership resources and opportunities to empower students to create high-impact programming centered on addressing community needs and maximizing student learning in an ethical and sustainable way.

Every program is required to have two student co-leaders. Co-leaders will collaborate to coordinate education, service, or advocacy initiatives with community partners (i.e., non-profit organizations, activists and artists, civic leaders, etc), evaluate health & safety considerations in itinerary development, manage program budget, lead fundraising efforts, secure lodging, and recruit two staff/faculty program advisors as well as their program participants. 

As a community-based learning program, Alternative Breaks incorporates critical reflection before, during, and after community immersion. Leaders are expected to plan and facilitate 5-8 pre-departure trainings that offer context for the social justice and culture that will be addressed and engaged with on the program. Leaders will also facilitate daily reflection sessions while in program with the support of their advisors and participants. After community immersion, leaders will lead the group’s plan to participate in Active Citizen Day, a showcase of what programs have accomplished and learned, highlighting the social justice issues to the AU campus community and providing ways for campus members to get involved.

Alternative Break programs are designed to heighten student participants’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth, and prepare them to be active citizens who prioritize community in their values and life choices.

Learning to lead a service-learning trip and incorporate elements of service, education, and reflection requires a considerable commitment of time and effort. Alternative Break leadership is a 15-20 hour weekly commitment throughout the academic year as student leaders build, design, train, and prepare for social engagement.

Students who lead an Alternative Break experience will:

  • Understand and practice cultural competency through immersion with a diverse demographic.

  • Have a greater understanding of self and values in the context of community service.

  • Improve interpersonal skills.

  • Develop and practice leadership.

  • Explore the concepts of community, social responsibility, and active citizenship.

  • Learn to facilitate trainings, meetings, and challenging conversations. 

Students leader benefits:

  • Get to attend their Alternative Break program for free.

  • Receive a small stipend after returning from the program.

  • Access to student leadership development resources and opportunities.

Student leader expectations:

  • Commit to a yearlong term as a student leader.

  • Attend weekly group meetings throughout the 2022-2023 academic year.

  • Commit to develop their leadership, reflection, and trip management skills.

  • Commit to co-lead or lead their Alternative Break program. 

  • Create a budget for their program, help their group fundraise, and help to recruit applicants to the Alternative Break program.

If you have questions, email us at altbreak@american.edu or come visit our office, located in MGC 266. You can also learn more about our past programs’ themes and locations by clicking here.

Contact the Alt Break Office

Interested in applying to lead an Alternative Break program? To apply to lead a Summer 2023 program, click this link

Applications for the Fall, Winter, and Spring 2023-2024 go live in March 2023. 

Fill out our Alt Break Interest Form to receive email updates.

Email us for more information!

altbreak@american.edu

PROGRAM LEADER INFORMATION SESSIONS

We will have several information sessions about leading an alternative break program and the application process.

We will also have regular office hours on Wednesdays from 1 PM to 3 PM and Fridays from 10 AM to 12 PM, so feel free to drop by our office, located in MGC 266, with any questions you have.

Diana

Our program's focus was Northern Ireland’s conflict transformation and reconciliation efforts following a thirty-year sectarian conflict, and how Brexit is affecting current power-sharing efforts. While COVID-19 prevented us from traveling, I am immensely proud of all of the work that my co-leader Maggie and I have accomplished. Our goal for this Alt Break was simple - we wanted to teach people. We wanted people to learn about a thirty-year period of ethno-sectarian violence that is rarely talked about in everyday life, yet remains very relevant to understanding current affairs. Our participants were enthusiastic and eager to learn throughout the months leading up to the program, and their genuine desire to learn was visible in each of our pre-departure meetings.

Jenni & Liz

Alternative Break was a chance to not only build up leadership skills, but to use our role as students to give tools to those around us, so that they could further their understanding on an issue we are very passionate about. It challenged us to always be considerate about entering another community's space in a meaningful and ethical way. We are beyond proud of everything that we’ve been able to accomplish as co-leaders! We will always carry this experience with us. We also wanted to give a small shout out to our Alternative Break Graduate Assistant Jackie because the compassion she's given to us empowers people to keep going.