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Alternative Breaks

What are Alternative Breaks?

Alternative Breaks are week-long, immersive service trips that allow students to travel domestically and internationally while providing meaningful service to a variety of nonprofits working to alleviate different social issues intertwining social justice into the programs. 

american hiking society alt break

American Hiking Society Alternative Break 2023

campus pride alt break

Campus Pride Alternative Break 2023

Alternative Break Spring 2024 Offerings Coming Soon!

Alternative Breaks FAQs

For Spring 2024 programs, are the experiences in person, virtual, or hybrid?

We hope that this year we can resume in-person programming without any issues. That being said, we are being cautious by encouraging and proposing programs in domestic locations. 

How much do Alternative Break programs cost?

Cost depends on the distance and length of time of the direct engagement component of the program. Domestic programs may range from $100-$300.

Program prices will usually include airfare, food, lodging, and all activities. 

Is financial assistance available?

Please reach out to [email protected] to learn more about financial aid options and availability.

What is the program commitment?

Each program includes 6-8 weeks of pre-departure training, discussion, and preparation with your Alternative Break program group. As with in-person experiences, pre-departure is in preparation for an immersive and short term engagement with community partners that work in the specific theme or social justice issue of the program.

These experiences challenge students to think critically and compassionately—and to understand that there’s no such thing as “not my problem.” Participants are empowered to make more informed decisions and to take meaningful action that supports a greater good.

All programs and students work with their group to implement a service, advocacy, or activism project to share their learnings with our broader community post-trip. 

Who is eligible to participate in Alternative Break Programs?

Any undergraduate or graduate student that wants to learn more about domestic and global issues through community development, civic engagement, leadership, and service.

How will I benefit from participating?
  • Connect with a community of peers from across campus and create new friendships and colleagues.
  • Develop and practice personal and group leaderships skills such as active listening, reflection, critical thinking, communication, as well as civic engagement through in-person service.
  • Learn how to effectively engage in constructive dialogue as related to social justice.
What should I expect on the trip?
  • Active engagement in personal reflection, listening, small group dialogue, and small group activities.
  • Thought-provoking questions and dialogue around social issues.
  • Making connections between social issues and your academic, personal, professional, or civic life.
  • Learning directly from community leaders and partners.
  • Engaging in direct service alongside community leaders and partners.
  • Participating in meaningful reflections to understand the impacts of community service on social justice.
  • Identifying at least one action step to take towards a social issue you are passionate about in your home community.
How do I apply for an Alternative Break program?

Alternative Break Program Applications are closed for Spring 2023. 

Check back in the Fall for more info on 2024's Alternative Break offerings.

When do Alternative Break Programs take place?

Alternative Break program can take place during the winter break, spring break, and summer recess. 

For the 2022-2023 Academic Year, we are offering 2023 Spring Break Alternative Break options.

Why are Alternative Breaks substance free?

Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. We believe the use of substances takes away from our goal of being fully present and engaged in our program activities. 

nazareth farm

For the past three semesters, I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to participate in Alternative Winter Break trips offered through the college. These were very impactful and eye-opening experiences for me. Not only did I get to visit a new place and take part in a fun and different experience, but I also got the chance to meet awesome people and make new friendships that I wouldn’t have otherwise made.

On these trips, we worked on multiple home repair projects for families that needed a little bit of a helping hand. It always felt so rewarding to see how much these families appreciated the work we were doing and just to get a chance to talk to them and hear their stories.

colin petramale 2015

My first experience happened as a junior when we led a trip to Florence, Alabama, and then my second as a senior when we led a trip to New Orleans, LA. The experiences we had were transformative,  the immersion trips helped us discover our solidarity with communities outside of Oswego.  

In New Orleans, we worked with a house in which HIV patients lived as they were trying to get their life back on its feet.  At first, we all did not know if it was safe to hug someone with HIV--by the end of the week, we were shaking hands, hugging, and enjoying conversation with our new HIV-positive friends.  The lessons have stayed with me and others for a lifetime; take time to listen to those who you see as different or scary, listen, engage with their story, and you just may be surprised about the commonalities and relationships you discover.