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Alternative Break Programs

Alternative Break at American University


Every year, the Center for Community Engagement and Service trains and sends groups of 10-15 students into their local and global communities to experience hands-on work with social justice issues.

The Alternative Break Program is a student-focused initiative that organizes international and domestic trips with a social justice perspective three times per year (winter, spring, and summer break). Alternative Breaks are service-learning experiences designed to heighten participants’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth, and prepare them for lifelong social action. Each student-initiated trip integrates service, reflection and education and focuses on topics as varied as poverty, indigenous rights, structural racism, human rights, fair trade, gender equality, and the environment.

Application Deadlines

2020-2021 Alt BREAK Leader application Now Live

DUE MAY 11, 2020

For information sessions and online assistance visit the ENGAGE link below.


Leadership Application Information

Please contact us at for information regarding Alternative Break Leadership

Winter 2019-2020 Programs

Building Peace After Genocide

Bosnia: Sarajevo & Mostar

Explore the historic factors that lead to war in Bosnia, while partnering with locals leading the community in both remembering and rebuilding from the collective trauma of genocide.

Bosnia Info

Ghosts of War: Post-Conflict Recovery

Laos & Vietnam

Experience first-hand the effects of climate change and environmental degradation by meeting with those most affected, including time with NGOs working to combat the effects.

Laos & Vietnam Info

Life After Apartheid: South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town & Johannesburg

Examine educational inequalities; combine leadership styles to leave participants better equipped to tackle structural inequalities in their personal lives.

South Africa Info

Spring 2020 Programs

The Prospects of Peace

Israel & Palestine

Go beyond the headlines and delve into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the prospects for peace through a dual-narrative immersive experience, co-led by a Palestinian and an Israeli.

Israel & Palestine Info

Resiliency & Reconstruction

Puerto Rico

Explore the impact hurricanes Irma and María had in Puerto Rico’s public education system by visiting schools and engaging in conversation with different community organizations.

Puerto Rico Info

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Cherokee, North Carolina

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Alt Break opportunity is primed to 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.

Cherokee, NC Info

Peace and Reconciliation

Northern Ireland

Discover “The Troubles” by traveling to the island of Ireland and learning of the enduring effects of the bloody conflict and ongoing peace and reconciliation process.

Northern Ireland Info

What Comes Next: Immigration and Justice

CA-Mexico Border

Explore the social and legal barriers facing entry into the U.S. through engagement, discussion, and community work with aid organizations along the Southern CA border.

CA - MX Border Info

The Category Is: Radical QTPOC Histories

San Francisco, CA

Honor the legacies of queer and trans people of color in San Francisco, California and beyond and shed light on the issues this community still faces today.

San Francisco Info

Hands of Haiti: Gender, Health, and Agriculture


Explore women’s health, environmentally sustainable agricultural practices, and gender dynamics in rural Haitian communities.

Haiti Info

Youth Development and Education


Learn and understand the dynamics of youth development in the context of Honduras and how one group works to address these challenges.

Honduras Info