Oregon State University

Alternative Break Service Trips


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Download the 2014 Alternative Spring Break Application Packet OR Apply Online

Learn about the impact of the 2014 Alternative Spring Break Trips here!

San Francisco
Yakima Trip

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.alternativebreaks2013.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 22 to March 29, 2014 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 and root causes of social issues.  Being immersed in community environments 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. 

Participating in an Alternative Break will be an opportunity to dedicate a week to impacting a community and your orientation to social problems, while having fun with fellow OSU students who have made an active commitment to learning and growing through service. Many participants will transfer their experience on-site back to their own communities even after the alternative break ends. It is also a unique opportunity to participate and help to shape a legacy of student service here at Oregon State University. Visit http://oregonstate.edu/cce/alternativebreaks to learn about each trip or visit the Center for Civic Engagement in Snell Hall 158 to discuss your interests with the staff.

Learn about the impact of the 2014 Alternative Spring Break Trips here!

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 regional communities
  • Learn about and explore new perspectives
  • Develop skills in negotiating multiple perspectives, viewpoints, and stakeholders’ interests in decision making and actions
  • Develop an increased capacity to work across differences to build communities
  • Gain valuable experience for your resume
  • Experience a program that will likely inform your future career path and lifestyle
  • Learn about yourself, challenge yourself, and have fun

Participant Expectations:

  • Participate in ALL pre- and post-trip meetings (there will be 3 pre-trip meetings and 1 post-trip meeting).
  • Be open to processing (at your own comfort level) the Alternative Break experience individually and as a group through organized reflection, journaling, and other activities that suit your reflection preferences.
  • Serve as a positive role model, representative, and ambassador of Oregon State University while on and off campus.
  • Be respectful of diverse community and cultural norms and values that you may experience in community and/or with members of the Alternative Break team.
  • Commit to being an active contributor to your team and show respect for fellow team members, community partners, and populations with whom you are completing service.
  • Be willing to explore diverse perspectives, opinions and to advance cultural competency, understanding, and sensitivity.
  • Be in good university standing (academic and student conduct).
  • Embrace experiences working independently as well as with a team or group.
  • Be organized, self-motivated, adaptable, and flexible.
  • Refrain from the use or possession of alcohol or any controlled substance/drugs for the duration of the experience.

Download the 2014 Alternative Spring Break Application Packet OR Apply Online

Extended deadline: Applications for Alternative Spring Break 2014 are still open. 

Alternative Spring Break Trips: Saturday March 22 to Saturday March 29, 2014

Hunger & Homelessness:   San Francisco, CA                   Estimated Trip Cost: $435  (includes 4 dinners and breakfast) 

Explore the complex, multi-faceted factors at play impacting hunger and homelessness in San Francisco and learn about homelessness issues in major urban areas including the short-term relief and long-term solutions that are being worked for and envisioned. Participants will complete service projects centered on addressing hunger and homelessness while meeting and working alongside local visionaries who actively address these issues in their communities. If you have an interest in learning about homelessness issues in major urban areas, this is the perfect trip for you. The trip will include hands-on direct service work with people experiencing homelessness from diverse backgrounds such as preparing and serving meals. We will also complete indirect service projects, such as facility improvements and assisting organizations prepare for fundraisers, gaining behind the scenes awareness and understanding of organizations that address homelessness. On our off day, we will explore San Francisco and all of the treasures that it has to offer! 

Note:   Lodging will be in a hostel. Trip fee includes transportation, lodging, 4 community dinners that will be e prepared and shared as a group at the hostel and breakfast, which is included at the hostel. Lunch is on your own or prepared together at the hostel (full kitchen available).  You will be responsible for your meals on travel days.

Community & Cultural Engagement : Yakima, WA                          Estimated Trip Cost: $145  (includes 4 dinners)

Uncover the human face and human cost of land acquisition, colonization, and immigration by exploring the influx and interplay of different cultural groups in the Yakima valley by working with the Native American Reservation, Yakama Nation, Latino migrant workers, and the City of Yakima.  Through direct service work, we will expose the buried roots of the area’s historical relationship to the land and explore implications for the present and future of different cultural groups in the region within our society.  We will also see first-hand the human impact and cost of land acquisition and immigration in the pursuit of the "American dream." During our trip we will serve different populations: We’ll help to teach English language skills to recent Latino migrant workers, assist with afterschool children’s programs at a Native American housing project, prepare meals for a homeless shelter for youth, and even work on the land ourselves. The group will visit the Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center. During our off day, the group will elect outings to a local, beautiful hike/park, a community festival, the Allied Arts Center, the Yakima Valley Museum, or the Yakima Area Arboretum.

Note: Lodging will be in a church or community center. Trip fee includes transportation, lodging, and 4 community dinners that will be prepared and shared together as a group.  You will be responsible for your meals on travel days as well as for purchasing materials for breakfast and to pack your lunch. There will be a community kitchen available to prepare breakfast, pack a lunch, and cook dinner.

Environmental  Restoration & Conservation: Ashland, OR           Estimated Trip Cost: $ 205 (includes 4 dinners) 

Discover the pressing environmental conservation and restoration issues in Ashland, Oregon. Participants will complete environmental restoration projects such as creek restoration, planting, mulching, invasive species removal, fertilizing, trail building, and restoring bird habitats with a variety of community organizations. Participants will meet with local environmental leaders to learn about threats to the natural environment and local and national legislation that is impacting natural habitats and ecosystems. This trip will include many hands-on, physical projects and possible hikes in the beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoors. Rain jackets, rain pants, and work boots are required for this trip to ensure comfort of the participants. On our off day, we will explore Ashland, go hiking, and/or possibly attend a play at the local Shakespeare Festival.

Note: This trip is one day shorter than the other trips (March 22rd to 28th). Trip fee includes transportation, lodging, 4 community dinners that will be prepared and shared together as a group. You will be responsible for your meals on travel days as well as for purchasing materials for packing your lunch. There will be a community kitchen available to prepare a lunch, and cook dinner each day. Lodging will be at a local inn and students will be asked to a share queen sized bed with another participant. Sleeping preferences will be collected on a trip information form after trip selection.

COMPLETED APPLICATIONS are due MONDAY, December 2 2013 at 5PM

Drop-off Application: Student Leadership & Involvement, Information Desk, 149 Snell Hall/MU East

Mail Application: Center for Civic Engagement, 158 Snell Hall/Memorial Union East, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331

Online Application Submission: http://oregonstate.edu/cce/alternative-break-application

Selections are based on the timeliness and quality of the applications and based upon crafting Alternative Break teams representing diversity in experience and perspectives.

Applicants will be notified of the selection outcomes by Monday December 9, 2013.

Questions? Contact Carina Buzo, Civic Engagement GTA, at carina.buzo@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-3172.

Requests related to accommodations for disability may be made by contacting Carina Buzo at carina.buzo@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-3172.

Note: As part of the Alternative Break experience, you may be asked to sleep in a mixed gendered room/environment. If you have concerns or would like more information, please contact Carina Buzo at carina.buzo@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-3172 and we will do our best to meet sleeping preferences and needs.

Alternative Breaks can be physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging as a result of the immersive nature of the trips and completing service projects, often requiring physical labor, and reflection activities over the course of a 5 to 6 day period. Participants are asked and encouraged to take responsibility for their wellbeing and experience during the trip by planning ahead and making needs known to the team and trip leaders.

Deposit and Trip Fees

Every participant is responsible for paying the trip fee; estimated trip costs are above. The actual trip cost may be lower than estimated.

Trip offers will be made before winter break and if selected, you must accept your spot via email within a week to hold your spot.  Thus, please be sure the email address you supply is one that you will be checking regularly. You will have winter break to fundraise if you wish. The Center for Civic Engagement will provide fundraising ideas and resources to you.  A non-refundable trip deposit of 50% of the total trip fee will be due by the end of the first week of winter term, Friday January 10, 2014.

If we do not reach at least 8 trip participants for a trip by January 10, 2014, the trip may be cancelled. In this case, you will be refunded in full for any deposit you have made.

Checks or money orders need to be made payable to “Center for Civic Engagement—MUNCSC” and dropped off the Student Leadership & Involvement Information Desk in Snell Hall/MU East 149. In the memo line, please write your name, ASB, and the location/city for your trip. Final payment due dates will be communicated after trip selections have been made.

Trip Refund and Cancellation Policy: The trip deposit is non-refundable. If you have extenuating, unexpected medical, academic, or family/personal circumstances that are out of your control and need to cancel from the trip, you may be reimbursed half of the trip cost. The emergency must arise before the trip starts to receive a refund for half of the trip cost. Students will be asked to provide a signed request for the partial refund that summarizes the extenuating circumstances.


For questions regarding Alternative Break Trips, please contact Carina Buzo, Civic Engagement GTA with the Oregon State University Center for Civic Engagement, at carina.buzo@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-3172.

Requests related to accommodations for disability may be made by contacting Carina Buzo at carina.buzo@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-3172.

ASB 2014

Contact Info

Center for Civic Engagement
158 Snell Hall (MU East) Corvallis, OR 97331-1610 beaver.volunteer@oregonstate.edu
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