Alternative Breaks

Issue and Trip Descriptions


Spring Category A: Driving

A Glimpse of Homelessness: This immersion experience will allow participants to hear personal stories from men living without a home and experience that reality for a short time. Participants will live as an individual experiencing homelessness, while coming to understand the struggles, adversities, and generosity found on the streets. Additionally participants will work with a local organization helping people overcome homelessness through a warm meal and other practical assistance.

Prison Injustice: A Transition Into Society: Participants will learn about the prison justice system alongside residents of a halfway house. This urban immersion experience will allow opportunity to work with youth as part of an after school program. Participants will also gain a unique perspective by touring an active prison and meeting with various employees.

Elderly Living in America: Through direct service at a nursing and rehabilitation center, as well as at a continuing care retirement center, participants spend spring break investigating the challenges and opportunities of elderly living the United States through the eyes of those who live it every day.

The Effects of Coal Mining in Appalachia: Much of our region's electricity is sourced from coal from the Appalachian region. As a result, participants will explore the complex nature of the issue of coal mining, especially the practice of mountaintop removal, coal mining, and the industries' impact on Appalachian communities. The group will hear first-hand accounts from coal miners, activists, and community members. The group will also visit the sites of interest and enjoy cultural events in the community. Service will likely include helping planting trees on a former mountaintop mine site, trail building, volunteering at homeless shelters, and helping support local tourism efforts. This trip includes a lot of outdoor time including some active and strenuous activities.

Embracing Differing Abilities: Participants will partner with L'Arche, a community that offers participants a chance to engage with adults with cognitive disabilities through service, education, and companionship. Participants will be able to interact with core members and staff in the community to better understand how these incredible individuals can enhance, challenge, and create an impact on society.

Preserving Forest Diversity: Participants will work in the foothills of Appalachia, increasing their "forest literacy" while working to promote biodiversity and protect the native botanical life of the region. Service will include trail maintenance and invasive species removal and will be paired with education about the region's natural environment and our role in living within it.

Urban Schools As a Community Asset: Participants will work with an organization dedicated to school and neighborhood improvement through the implementation of community learning centers. By working in public schools throughout the school day as well as after, participants will see how public schools can become the hub of educational, cultural, recreational, and health partnerships within a community.

The Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement: Participants will travel to one of the most important cities of the Civil Rights era, where they will not only learn about past historical movements, but experience their lasting impact through direct service and education. Participants will also gain a deeper understanding of what civil rights struggles look like today by working within the community's neighborhoods and schools.

The Rights and Welfare of Animals: Participants will be working at an animal sanctuary where they will be assisting the host organization in maintaining their property. This service will require moderate to high levels of manual labor and physical activity. Participants will have the opportunity to work alongside rescued animals and will participate in various educational/cooking classes throughout the week. Participants must be willing to maintain a vegan lifestyle for the week out of respect for the community with which they will be working.

Simple Living and Appalachian Culture: Participants will immerse themselves in life in an Appalachian holler to learn firsthand about the many causes of the region's poverty, economic disparities, and environmental challenges as well as learning of the richness of the culture. Participants will engage in hands-on physical labor including building structures, yard work, farming, chopping wood, etc. Accommodations will be "rustic."

Refugee Resettlement in America: Participants will be educated on what it means to be a refugee living in America today by interacting directly with refugee families through community outreach programs, employment mentoring, and new home refurbishing. The combination of education and interaction will enable participants to shed light on this controversial issue and make human connections.

Building Positive Futures with LGBTQ+ Young People: Want to learn more about how experiencing homelessness, the LGBTQ+ community, and youth intersect? This experience focuses on a variety of intersectionalities like race, socioeconomic status, mental health, sexual orientation, and homelessness. Learn and work with communities who are often overlooked in today's society. The combination of education, service, and community building is unlike any other.

Spring Category B: Flying, Short-Distance

Exploring the Roots of Our Nation: Participants will gain insight into the lives of Native Americans by learning about their history, culture, and living conditions on the reservation. Through direct service, participants will have the opportunity to meet and interact with members of the tribe. Projects may include building ramps, restoring bunk beds, skirting trailers, and chopping firewood. Additional educational opportunities include evening speakers and tours around the reservation.

Immigration: A Look into a Difficult Journey: Participants will investigate the many factors involved in the immigration process. Both sides of the issue will be challenged in group discussion and personal reflection after visiting sites that work with undocumented immigrants on a daily basis, such as shelters for immigrants, a court house, and border patrol. This highly educational immersion will allow participants to explore the many grey areas of the topic and truly give immigration a face and name to evaluate personal and political viewpoints. Passport might be necessary.

Immigrant and Workers' Rights: Participants will live and work in an immigrant farming community in the United States. Through homestays with families, working beside farmers, and cultural community activities participants will have the opportunity to learn the importance of history, culture, and a commitment to justice as a community. This trip requires physical labor.

Substance Abuse: Prevention and Treatment Education: Participants will explore the issue of substance abuse and the effect that it has on individuals, families, and communities. Participants will labor on a rehabilitation farm, performing tasks alongside the men in recovery that live there. The host organization focuses on community outreach, prevention, and treatment.

An Urban Population's Food Insecurity: Participants will promote healthy food access by working with organizations committed to involving local residents from seed to sale to plate. Service will include working with a variety of organizations including urban farms and a resource program working to restore the community's connection with the environment and its food sources. The trip will explore long-term solutions to hunger through direct service on urban farms as well as in the food banks and soup kitchens.

Conservation of our Native Ecosystems: On this trip participants will learn about the threats posed by invasive species, the on-going history of an exceptional ecosystem, and the importance of conserving biodiversity. Through exposure to various facets of an ecosystem and partnering with a local conservancy participants will get a unique understanding of conservation efforts and her or his role in the preservation of local environments.

Spring Category C: Flying, Long-Distance

Realities of Post-War Communities: Participants will be immersed in culture with historic and direct ties to the United States and the Jesuits. Participants will be exposed to a variety of issues that this particular community faces including both economic and human rights issues. There will be opportunity to work with local human rights and religious leaders, government officials, farmers, laborers, and youth in both an urban center and a home stay in a rural community.

Spring Break trips run Saturday, March 7-14th, 2020.

Fall Break: Driving

Preserving Appalachian Ecosystems: Participants will work in the foothills of Appalachia, increasing their "forest literacy" while working to promote biodiversity and protect the native botanical life of the region. Service will include trail maintenance and invasive species removal and will be paired with education about the region's natural environment and our role in living within it.

Sustaining Urban Micro-farms: On this trip, you will learn about the presence of food deserts in urban areas, and work with an organization that addresses food deserts through community gardens, cooking classes, a composting program, and even urban chicken keeping! Your service will involve outside work in the community gardens.

The Effects of Gentrification on a Community in an Historic Area: On this trip, you will work with multiple organizations to learn about a historic neighborhood and the ways in which it has been impacted by gentrification. Service varies daily, but you will be addressing the issues surrounding homelessness and poverty.