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To me, Alternative Break means serving yourself through serving others. In sharing my knowledge of Federal Indian Law and Native Affairs with my participants and empowering them to act as advocates for community issues, I felt a deeper purpose behind my experience as a student at American University. Alternative Break Leadership gave me the opportunity to “be the change you wish to see in the world”, and allowed me to be more than just a student, but also a leader, changemaker, and hopefully an inspirations to others.
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.
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.