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Past Alternative Break Programs

Locations Alternative Breaks has visited

American University Alternative Breaks have worked with communities around the world on issues ranging from poverty, indigenous rights, structural racism, human rights, fair trade, gender equality, and the environment. Below you will find a searchable list that highlights examples of past Alternative Break Programs, the social justice themes they explored, and some select community partners AU students worked with.

Past Programs
Social Justice Theme Location Academic Year Theme Description Community Organizations
Exploring Maternal Health: A Public Health Crisis virtual (New Orleans, LA) 2021-2022 Explore and understand maternal health & maternal mental health through the lens of practitioners, community organizations, doulas, and midwives. Fourth Trimester & Beyond; Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies; New Orleans Maternal and Child Health Coalition
Migration of Eritreans & Ethiopians in DC Washington, D.C. 2021-2022 Investigate the reasons for forced and voluntary migration of Eritreans & Ethiopians. Disover their unique contribution to the D.C. Community. Ethiopian Community Development Council; Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research; Eritrean Community Center; Oromo Community Organization
Food Justice Matters Washington, D.C. 2021-2022 Examine the history of food movements, food insecurity, and current efforts to promote food justice. Bread for the City; The Potter House; Capital Area Food Bank; Anacostoa Community Museum
Revolution Begins at Home: Trasnational Student Organizing Hybrid West Virginia 2021-2022 Build beyond the theoretical and dive into cross-solidarity organizing practices, from South Africa to the U.S. (trip was changed to West Virgina due to COVID-19) Mandesi & Community Theater; Fees Must Fall; Bo-Kaap; University of Cape Town
Youth & Community Empowerment Hybrid West Virginia 2021-2022 Learn about education accessibility and how community empowerment is utilized to overcome barriers youth face in Honduran communites. (trip was changed to West Virgina due to COVID-19) Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE); Radio Progreso; Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación; ASIDE; Red de Mujeres de El Progreso
Sovereignty and Stewardship: The Pipeline Problem Washington, D.C. 2021-2022 Discover tribal sovereignty and environmental stewardship and explore how extractive economies are a fundamental threat to both. White Earth Land Recovery Project; White Earth Tribal and Community College; Minnesota Chippewa Tribe; Army Corp of Engineers in DC
Access To Education: Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 2021-2022 Examine the roles gender, disability, and geography play in the Sierra Leone education system. University of Makeni; Street Child; Joseph's School for the Hearing Impaired; Bo School; FAWE
Health Inequities virtual (Detroit, MI) 2020-2021 Examine the social and structural barriers that limit individuals and their community’s ability to be healthy. Focus: Hope; Mothering Justice
Transformative Change and Justice virtual (South Africa) 2020-2021 Learn from South African leaders and activists to understand their methology and movements in order to apply these lessons in our own lives and at American University. National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences; University of Cape Town, Bathande Reading Club; Khayelitsha Art School and Rehabilitation Centre;
School-to-Prison Pipeline virtual (Chicago, IL) 2020-2021 Bring awareness to the school to prison pipeline issue while advocating for public school students across the US through the intersection of public health and education. Chicago Public Schools; ACLU; University of Chicago
Food Insecurity virtual (Memphis, TN) 2020-2021 Examine the causes and consequences of food insecurity within marginalized communities. Capital Area Food Bank; The Works inc
Indigenous Sovereignty and Environmentalism virtual (Navajo Nation) 2020-2021 Explore the idea of sovereignty as a verb and how it presents itself through both law and natural conservation particularly as it pertains to tribal sovereignty in the United States. Little Shell Chippewa Tribe; Curyung Tribal Council; DOI Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs; Holland & Knight's Public Policy and Regulation Group; National Council of the National Museum of the American Indian; Dillingham school district; Húuyee tlaayd ‘La’áaygaas, LLC; Water First;
Climate Change and Environmental Justice virtual (Parismina, Costa Rica) 2020-2021 Explore environmental justice and the role that we play as individuals in the movement. American University - Office of Sustainability, Washington College of Law, Office of Merit Awards
Education Access and Youth Empowerment virtual (El Progreso, Honduras) 2020-2021 Collaborate with OYE staff and students to design projects around community engagement to implement in our own localities. OYE
Peacebuilding After Conflict virtual (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 2020-2021 Anaylze systemic factors related to the 1992 Genocide and Conflict in order to learn how to integrate peace building efforts in our respective communities. Remembering Srebrenica; War Childhood Museum
Genocide Recognition virtual (Armenia) 2020-2021 Learn about the culture and people who refused to be erased from history, and the path it took to gain sympathy, understanding, and connectivity in a world that claims to be more connected than ever. Nexus at Cape Henry Collegiate; Never Again Rwanda; The American Who Stayed; Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect; Dydine Umunyana
Peace and Reconciliation Bosnia 2019-2020 Partner with local advocates leading the community in both remembering and rebuilding from the collective trauma of genocide Center for Nonviolent Action; Balkan Investigative Reporting Network
Environmental Degradation Laos & Vietnam 2019-2020 Examined the effects of climate change and learned from NGOs working to combat environmental degradati Vietnam Women’s Union; PanNature; MAG International; Jai Lao Foundation; Lao Textiles; Mekong River Commission; USAID
Inequality in Health and Education South Africa 2019-2020 Explore the historical and present day contexts of how racial identity effects health care, education, and standard of living. Grandmothers Against Poverty & AIDS; Desmond Tutu HIV/AIDS Clinic; South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union; Sonke Gender Justice Mission; Fees Must Fall
Indigenous Peoples' Rights North Carolina & Tennessee 2019-2020 Pair history with activism in showing the contemporary needs of indigenous peoples in the United States, stemming from a history of colonization, assimilation, and deprivation. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Once Upon a Time in Appalachia
Women in Agriculture Haiti 2019-2020 Explored women's health, environmentally sustainable agricultural practices, and gender dynamics in rural Haitian communities. Na Sonje; Fonkoze; OSAPO; Groundswell; Partneriat pour le Developpemnet Local
Peace and Reconciliation Israel & Palestine 2019-2020 A dual-narrative immersive experience into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the prospects for peace. Mejdi Tours
Peace and Reconciliation Northern Ireland 2019-2020 Examine the impact of "The Troubles" and Brexit on Northern Ireland's efforts towards peace and reconciliation. Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation; Council for Integrated Education Northern Ireland; Stormont, Northern Ireland Assembly
Immigration Law and Justice Chula Vista, CA 2019-2020 Explore the social and legal barriers facing entry into the U.S. through engagement, discussion, and community work with aid organizations along the Mexico - US border. Border Angels; American Friends Service Committee; Immigration Justice Project; La Maestra Community Health Center
QTPOC Histories San Francisco, CA 2019-2020 Honor the legacies of queer and trans people of color in San Francisco and shed light on the issues this community still faces today. GLBT Archives; Lavender Seniors; El/La Para TransLatinas; Openhouse
Youth Development Honduras 2019-2020 Learn and understand the dynamics of youth development in the context of Honduras and how community organizations work to address these challenges. Organization for Youth Empowerment
Education and Inequality Puerto Rico 2019-2020 Examine the economic, political, and social inequalities in Puerto Rico's public education system. Instituto Nueva Escuela; P.E.C.E.S. Humacao; UPR Rio Piedras; Cayey
Post Conflict Recovery Vietnam 2018-2019 Explore topics of post-conflict recovery, international development, and global governance and identify the role U.S. citizens can play to help with post-conflict recovery focusing on Agent Orange and UXO victims assistance and land remediation. Tu Du Peace Village; Project Renew; MAG International; Friendship Village Project; Greenhub; Danang Sustainable City Development Project
Identity Tanzania 2018-2019 Examine the interplay of complicated identities within a country founded on the ideals of pan-africanism, and how Tanzanian social and political history has transformed the notion of a “pan-african state”. United African Alliance Community Center; MS Training Center for Community Development
Understanding Race Cuba 2018-2019 Understanding race in 21st century Cuba by looking at culture, religion, history, and economics. Cuba Educational Travel
Inequity in Education New Orleans, LA 2018-2019 Examine inequities in education in New Orleans resutling from racism and environmental injustice. Boys and Girls Club, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Kipp Central City Academy, Puentes New Orleans
Impacts of International Aid Haiti 2018-2019 Challenge single narratives and any preconceptions of Haiti and reconsider the impact of international aid. Na Sonje; Fonkoze; OSAPO
Immigration McAllen, TX 2018-2019 Understand the root causes of the current immigration crisis, including U.S. foreign policy intervention, and policies and challenges that affect the immigrant community. Proyecto Azteca; Humanitarian Respite Center; South Texas Human Rights Center
Youth Empowerment Uzbekistan 2018-2019 Exploring youth development, empowerment and leadership to stimulate democratic, political, and economic reforms in Uzbekistan. Youth Union of Uzbekistan; SOS Children's Villages; and Center for Youth with Disabilities
Peace and Reconciliation Northern Ireland 2018-2019 Delve into Northern Ireland’s peacebuilding efforts following “The Troubles" in light of Brexit and rising ethnonationalism globally. Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre; Queen's University Belfast; New-Bridge Integrated College
Women and Youth Empowerment Rwanda 2018-2019 Explore women and youth empowerment strategies in reconciliation and rebuilding following the 1994 genocide. Women for Women International; Never Again Rwanda; National University of Rwanda; Nyamirambo Women’s Center
From Grassroots to Government: Social Development Rwanda 2017-2018 How non-profits, NGOs, and the Rwandan government interact on social empowerment and how is affects development in the country. Les Enfants de Dieu; Women for Women International – Rwanda; Rwanda Youth Solution Organization (RYSO)
Life Behind Bars: A Look Into Modern Day Servitude, Legal Biases, and the Criminal "Justice" System San Francisco, CA 2017-2018 Examine the flaws of the criminal justice system and its direct influence on people of color. Delancey Street Foundation; San Francisco Sheriff's Department; Prison University Project; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice; Northern California Innocence Project; Prison Radio; Project Avary
Ghosts of War: Post-Conflict Recovery Four Decades Later Vietnam 2017-2018 Learn about the lasting remnants of the US-Vietnam war still affecting communities decades later, particularly mines and chemical agents. Impress Travel company; Project Renew; Mine Action Center
Afro, Putagee, or Indian?: An Examination of Race & LGBTQ+ Identity Guyana 2017-2018 Implications of being LGBTQ in the Caribbean, awareness of racial differences in the West Indies, and developing a greater understanding of West Indian culture. The Guyana Rainbow Foundation; the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination; University of the West Indies; University of Guyana
Haitian Voices: Reconsidering International Aid Haiti 2017-2018 Understand the effects of international development from the perspective of those receiving the aid. Na Sonje; OSAPO
Creative Impact: Youth Empowerment in Honduras Honduras 2017-2018 Understanding youth empowerment, community leadership, and community change. Organization for Youth Empowerment
Stolen Education: The Inequity of Education, Race, and Political Power New Orleans, LA 2017-2018 Learn Hurricane Katrina’s enduring effect on New Orleans focusing on how historic inequity affects race political power, policy, & environmental Justice. Boys Hope Girls Hope; Apex Youth Center; Children's Bureau of New Orleans; Lower 9th Ward History Museum; RENew Charter Academy; The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University; Teach For America; KIPPCenter Discover Fest
Dalit Rights and Education in India. India 2017-2018 Access to education and empowerment in rural Tamil Nadu through Dalit communities. Communities Rising
Arts as Resistance South Africa 2017-2018 Learn the history of South African art as a tool for political resistance. Lynedoch Ecovillage; Fees Must Fall; Mandela House in Soweto
At a Crossroads: The Navigation of Migration and Community McAllen, TX 2017-2018 Focus on issues and experiences surrounding communities affected by U.S. Immigration policy on the Texas - Mexico Border. Humanitarian Respite Center; South Texas Human Rights Center
Ghosts of War: Post-Conflict Recovery in Vietnam Vietnam 2016-2017 Explore the enduring and devastating legacy Agent Orange and unexploded ordinances on Vietnamese communities. Peace Village at Tu Du Hospital; Project RENEW; MAG International; Pacific Links Foundation; Friendship Village Project
OUT OF THE CLOSET, OFF OF THE STREETS: San Francisco, CA 2014-2015 Exampined the interesction of homelessness and LGBTQ rights and seek to understand how communities are responding to the needs of queer and trans homeless youth. Larkin Street Youth Services; LYRIC; The Family Acceptance Project; The SF Center; Trans Thrive
Haitian Identity, Immigration, and Human Rights In the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 2014-2015 Explore the social justice themes of identity, immigration and human rights behind the Dominican/Haitian identity. MOSCTHA; Declaro Mis Derechos
Community Organizing in the Favelas: Striving for Education Brazil 2014-2015 Understand the perspectives of favela community organizers working to fill gaps caused by the lack of promised government supported social services. Ser Alzira de Aleluia; Catalytic Communities; FICA
Niños Sin Frontera De La Frontera: Child Immigration, Asylum, Security and Community El Paso, TX 2014-2015 Examines child migration along the U.S.- Mexico border, and explores ideas and definitions of asylum, global and national security and community identity. Annunciation House; Border Awareness Experience; Sin Fronteras Farmworker Center
Women and Youth Development in a Post Conflict Region Rwanda 2014-2015 Engagement and discuss with women, youth, survivors and perpetrators in Rwanda to learn about the countryʼs history and how it is moving forward. OPDE; Peace Dialogue Foundation; Rwandan Youth Solutions Organization; National University of Rwanda; Association of Medical Students of Rwanda; Safer Rwanda; Twiyunge; Institute of Research for Dialogue and Peace; Search for Common Ground; Women for Women International; Never Again Rwanda
Education and Dalit Rights India 2014-2015 Focus on opportunities that education brings to Dalit children and the importance of universal education for oppressed people. Communities Rising
Education: Foundation of a succesful democracy in Burma Burma 2013-2014 Focus on education as a platform for social empowerment, and how certain NGOs are working to support increased freedoms from recent democratic reforms. EarthRights International; Best Friends Library; Ta’ang Student and Youth Organization
Effects of Poverty on Chicago Youth Chicago, IL 2013-2014 Explores the effects of poverty on Chicago inner-city youth and their access to education, health, and housing. World Vision; Chicago Food Bank; Peace Corner Youth Center; Safe Start Program; Mercy Youth Home
U.S. Corn Belt: Food and Labor Justice in the Agriculture Industry Iowa, Kansas & Missouri 2013-2014 Exampine the complex process of our food system – from seed to our plate and the injustices that occur along the way which impact farmers, the environment, and food access. Iowa State University; School of Agriculture; Seed Savers Exchange; Iowa Farmers Union; Cultivate Kansas City; Harvesters Community Food Network; DuPont Pioneer; Land Institute; Iowa Soybean Association
Cuba: Post-Revolution Race and Identity Cuba 2013-2014 Explore how individuals understand and construct their racial identities based on their skin color, lineage, education, and economic means. La Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina; La Casa de África; Centro Memorial Martin Luther King Jr.; National Center for Sex Education; University of Havana ; Organoponico Vivero Farming Cooperative in Alamar; Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba
D.C.: Injustices in Urban Education Washington, D.C. 2013-2014 Explore how DC is one of the most literate cities in the country but how it also has one of the lowest performing public school systems. Latin American Youth Center; City Year; DC Reads; Empower DC
Community Resilience and the Strugle for Environmental Rights after Genocide Guatemala 2013-2014 Learn about environmental destruction and the lack of consultation for resource-extracting megaprojects. Guatemalan Families of the Disappeared; Guatemalan Human Rights Commission; Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala; Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala, Community of Rio Negro, Cultural and Historical Center of Rabinal, Mother Earth Association, Nueva Esperanza School, U.S. State Department
Microfinance, Healthcare, and Women as Agents of Development Haiti 2013-2014 Focus on women’s access to healthcare and financial services. N'a Sonje Foundation; Grace Children's Hospital; Fonkoze
The Refugee Voice: African Refugees & Asylum Seekers in Israel Israel 2013-2014 Focus on human rights issues facing African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. African Refugee Development Center; Physicians for Human Rights; Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; The Hotline for Migrant Workers; Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers; Refugee Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University; Refugee Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University; The Refugee Voice; The Knesset; UNHCR
Rapid Development’s Consequences on Marginalized Ethnic Groups Turkey 2013-2014 Explores the effects of urbanization and gentrification on ethnic minority groups. First Union Church of Istanbul; Sulukule Volunteers Association; Tarlabasi Toplum Merkezi; Tarlabasi Mutfak
The Intersections of Urbanization: Effects on Nairobi’s Transportation and Public Health System Kenya 2013-2014 Learn about the marginalization of urban dwellers caused by development and modernization. Lea Toto; UN Habitat; Kenyatta National Hospital; University of Nairobi; Kenya Railways, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Urban Planning
Housing Justice and Grassroots Community Organizing Mexico 2013-2014 Explore themes of dignified housing as a human right, community organizing; social change; solidarity and collectivism. Mexico Solidarity Network; Frente Popular Franciso Villa Independiente
Healing and Youth Development Rwanda 2013-2014 Engage Rwandans on issues of development, reconciliation and particularly youth empowerment. Never Again Rwanda; Kimisagara Youth Center; Les Enfants de Dieu; Rwandan Youth Organization Solution; National University of Rwanda; Youth Initiative for Environmental Protection; Rwandan Village Concept Project; University Students Association, OPDE; MEDASR (Association of Medical Student of Rwanda)
Education and Dalit Rights India 2013-2014 Focus on the opportunities that education brings to Dalit children and the importance of universal education for oppressed people. Communities Rising