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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

20-21 Program Applications go live in late August, 2020. 

Questions? Email for more info


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

Sovereignty as a Verb


Examine legal institutions and conservation in the Navajo Nation. Explore the importance of sovereignty and self-determination among Indigenous communities across the United States. 

Navajo Nation Info

Peacebuilding After Conflict


Explore the systemic factors and reconciliation efforts regarding the Bosnian Conflict and Genocide 1992-1996. Become life-long peacebuilders and active community members in their respective communities upon our return.


Structural Food Inequality


Explore how food insecurity effects marginalized communities. Examine how and ability to access nutritious food in the United States is directly linked to privilege, wealth, and systemic racism.


Genocide Recognition


Learn about genocide recognition and the roles that grassroots movements, international institutions, and states all play in the fight for justice against genocide.


School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Public Health Crisis


Examine and understand how the social determinants of health and adverse childhood experiences (ACES) play a role in determining a child’s educational outcome, and how we can best support schools through advocacy and policy.


Separate and Unequal: Health Inequities


Examine the various barriers that limit individuals and their community’s ability to be healthy. We will focus on health inequity and the path to health equity in Detroit, Michigan.


Dialogue, LGBTQ Identity, and Collective Memory


This program will engage students in dialogue at the intersection of LGBTQ identity and collective memory in a post-conflict context in Madrid and Barcelona. Students will return to Washington D.C as advocates of dialogue which fosters LGBTQ community and rights.


Access to Education, Gender, & Race


Explore how Honduran communities work to empower their youth through education and programs promoting ecological and social awareness. Return to enrich DC communities to improve social inclusivity and empower youth.

Honduras Info