Oregon State University

Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break: Bond, Learn, Serve

What are Alternative Breaks?

An alternative break is a trip that engages a group of students in volunteer service and learning, typically for a week. Alternative break trips originated with college students in the early 1980s as a counter to "traditional" spring break trips. Trips typically have a focus on a particular social issue, such as (but not limited to) poverty, hunger and homelessness, education reform, health and wellness, immigration rights, and the environment. Students learn about the social issues and perform projects with local non-profit and community-based organizations. Alternative breaks challenge students to critically think and react to problems faced by members of the communities in which they are involved (adapted from Break Away, http://www.alternativebreaks2012.org) The Alternative Break (AB) program enables students to immerse themselves in a new and different community to learn its historical, sociological, cultural and/or political background.  Each AB experience is crafted in collaboration with community in order to explore the unique culture and social issues of a specific location.  Teams of approximately ten students will spend the week of March 23rd to March 30th, 2013 on three different trips in Oregon, Washington, and California.  Teams will engage in pre-trip planning and orientation meetings and post-trip debriefing and reflection, a structure that promotes continuous learning through the emphasis on critical reflection and reciprocity.  

The AB experience encourages students to critically analyze their assumptions and mindsets through learning about the complexity of social problems.  Being immersed in a community environment enables participants to experience, discuss, and understand social issues in a significant way. The learning occurs for students as they are asked to be willing to engage in difficult conversations, ask questions, examine their beliefs, make mistakes, and confront challenging issues.  The AB program values holistic education and creates opportunities that inspire personal growth with focus on short-term relief in addition to long-term sustainable social change. 

Benefits of participating in an Alternative Break:

  • Engage in meaningful service to impact change related to an issue you care about
  • Learn about and reflect upon the complexity and interconnectedness of social issues and problems
  • Improve your leadership, critical thinking, and dialogue skills in dynamic real world scenarios
  • Learn about options for continuing community engagement work upon your return to OSU
  • Build meaningful relationships and a new community of civic-minded OSU students
  • Travel to and learn about new places
  • Learn, challenge yourself, and have fun!
  • Develop an increased capacity to work across differences to build communities
  • Gain valuable experience for your resume/CV
  • Experience a program that will likely inform your future career path and lifestyle

More information and applications are available for download here: http://oregonstate.edu/cce/alternativebreaks. Questions? Contact Julia Lang at Julia.Lang@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-3172.

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