What is an Alternative Break?
An alternative break program places teams of college or high school students in communities to engage in community service and experiential learning during their summer, fall, winter, weekend or spring breaks. Students perform short term projects for community agencies and learn about issues such as literacy, poverty, racism, hunger, homelessness and the environment. The objectives of an alternative break program are to involve college students in community-based service projects and to give students opportunities to learn about the problems faced by members of communities with whom they otherwise may have had little or no direct contact. Being completely immersed into diverse environments enables participants to experience, discuss, and understand social issues in a significant way. The intensity of the experience increases the likelihood that participants will transfer the lessons learned on-site back to their own communities even after the alternative break ends. Break Away seeks to use alternative breaks as a springboard into lifelong active citizenship...where the community becomes a priority in an individual's life decisions.
Examples of trips students have organized are:
- tutoring migrant farmworkers in Florida
- building homes in Appalachia
- registering voters in rural Mississippi
- working with the homeless in Washington, DC.
In the spring of 2006, an estimated 36,000 students across the nation participated in an alternative break experience.