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Alternative Breaks

UC San Diego students on an alternative break - hiking in a canyon

Alternative Breaks is open to all UC San Diego students. No prior Alternative Breaks, travel, or service experience is required. The most important requirements are an open mind, an open heart, and a sincere desire to learn and work together with others to help create social change.

Mission

Alternative Breaks are national or international service and learning trips that use education of social justice issues combined with quality direct service to have a lasting impact on students and the communities in which they work.

Vision

To create globally conscious active citizens committed to lifelong service.

Service and learning trips

Each trip incorporates 8 quality components of an alternative break, which include: Strong Direct Service, Orientation, Education, Training, Reflection, Reorientation, Diversity, and Full Engagement.

Participants meet regularly to discuss logistics, engage in training and reflection activities, and coordinate fundraising. The Alternative Breaks umbrella organization meets regularly with site leaders of each trip to discuss and train trip leaders on-site logistics, risk management, and education before, during, and after the trip.

Interested in Alternative Breaks? Fill out this interest form or join our email list!

Social issues/projects

Possible social issues/ projects you may work with through Alternative Breaks include:

  • Public health outreach
  • Educational outreach
  • Environmental sustainability and climate change research
  • Observing and assisting local health professionals
  • Working toward women's empowerment

2019–2020 Alternative Break Trips

Applications for Alternative Weekends are open until Oct 6, 2019

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Applications for all Alternative Break 2020 trips are open until Nov 1, 2019. Interested participants are encouraged to apply early since applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis.

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Alternative Weekends: Population Health and Well-Being (San Diego)

This program will explore the intersectionalities of population health and well-being in San Diego. We will look at four factors that greatly contribute to population health: Relationships, Nutrition, Education, and Environment, devoting 2-3 weekends on each topic throughout the year. Students are welcome to apply for a weekend topic of interest and would commit 2-3 weekends to the project. Students will have the opportunity to join a team of like-minded individuals ready to learn, serve, and address these pressing social justice issues. Each of the weekends will combine education from subject matter experts, direct service, and a chance to create lasting change through innovations and collaboration.

Come help establish a platform where UCSD students work together to explore, learn and serve some of the most pressing issues in population health. More information, dates, and applications for each of the trips is available below. 

Click here to learn more information!  

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Education (Washington DC, Spring Break)

Dates: March 21-28, 2020

UC San Diego students will spend spring break 2020 learning about the social justice issue of access to education and serving the DC community by working at a local school. Working with a UC San Diego alum teacher at Turner Elementary School in Washington DC, the UC San Diego students will prepare educational lessons and host activities to inspire and encourage students to attend college. UC San Diego students will develop a long-term relationship with the Turner Elementary School students through a pen pal exchange, with the goal of the UC San Diego student serving as a long term mentor for college inspiration. 

Cost: $1,000 includes flight, lodging, meals and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

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Homes for the Homeless (New York, Summer Break)

Dates: June 15-July 3, 2020

UC San Diego students will work preparing a summer camp at Harriman State Park for children who live in New York City’s homeless family shelter systems. This project is a partnership Homes for the Homeless, who run 4 homeless shelters in New York and their mission is to create lasting solutions for families by developing practical skills such as financial literacy and job readiness for parents while enriching the lives of children through educational programs, youth development, and fun recreational activities.

Cost: $900 includes flights, lodging, meals, and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

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Public Health (Bali, Indonesia, Summer Break)

Two trips offered! 

Trip 1: June 21- July 3, 2020

Trip 2: July 5-July 17, 2020

A cohort of UC San Diego students will learn the multifaceted perspectives of medicine through visits to non-governmental organizations that promote alternative methods to western medicine. Throughout the trip, students will look at the social issues of access to care and the importance of religion and tourism in the Balinese culture. For the first week of the trip, students will assist with administering preventative health check-ups to the local community with medical students from Bali. The students will also have an opportunity to deliver health education workshops about exercise, nutrition, and hygiene to local youth in the second week of service.

Cost: $3,000 includes roundtrip flight, lodging, meals, project materials and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

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Sustainability (Holar, Iceland, Summer Break)

Dates: Early August-mid August, 2020 (exact dates TBD)

A delegation of UC San Diego students will participate in an educational service-learning trip to Iceland (a community experiencing the impacts of climate change today) and culminate in conservation and climate change education and outreach. Students will work closely with Dr. Carolyn Kurle of UC San Diego Biological Sciences department and partners at Holar University College in Iceland. The trip is designed to promote awareness of global climate change, invasive species, and other conservation biology topics, and create a strong connection to the natural world via field trips exploring multiple ecosystems. 

Cost: $3,000 includes roundtrip flight, lodging, meals, project materials and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

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School Reform (Mumbai, India, Summer Break)

Dates: August 22-September 18, 2020

Traveling with a UC San Diego Education Studies Faculty Member and graduate student, UC San Diego students will spend 3.5 weeks working with The Akanksha Foundation. The purpose of the trip is to support the development of innovative, sustainable, and scalable long-term structures within the education system. Sample projects could include evaluation of the role of social workers in ensuring educational access and school completion among the students, with special consideration of rural, female and Dalit students, the role of parent engagement in student attendance (drop-out/retention) and the role of interventions like R&R and Free Play or Circle Time in holistic growth and development of students, including mental and emotional health.

Cost: $4,500 includes roundtrip flight, lodging, meals, project materials and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

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Civic Engagement (Virginia, Summer Break)

Dates: September 18-September 25, 2019

Are you a changemaker? A believer that everyone’s voice should be heard? Do you love to educate people about the issues? Want to inspire people to vote? Come join us in Virginia and Washington DC for an education and service experience centered on civic engagement! In partnership with James Madison University we will participate in National Voter Registration Day festivities, a tour of local sites examining civil rights struggles and the contributions of social justice movements to American democracy, a service project canvassing in the community, and lots more!  Once back at UCSD we will put our experiences into action through involvement with voter engagement activities culminating in volunteering on Primary Day in March 2020.

 Applications are closed for 2019

2018–2019 AB Trips

Education (Washington DC)

Dates: March 24-31, 2019

Deadline to apply: November 30, 2018

11 UC San Diego students will spend Spring break 2019 learning about the social justice issue of access to education and serving the DC community by working at a local school. Working with the Principal and a UC San Diego alum teacher at Turner Elementary School in Washington DC, the UC San Diego students will prepare educational lessons and host activities to inspire and encourage students to attend college. UC San Diego students will develop a long-term relationship with Turner Elementary School students through a pen pal exchange starting Fall 2018, with the goal of the UC San Diego student serving as a long-term mentor for college inspiration.

Cost: $1,000 includes flight, lodging, meals and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

Public Health (Bali, Indonesia)

Dates: June 29-July 12, 2019

Deadline to apply: November 30, 2018

A cohort of UC San Diego students will assist medical students in a local village in administering preventative health check-ups. Students will observe how care is delivered, and depending on the situation, help administer the health check-up in the following ways: record data, assist with pulse and blood pressure checks, and blood sugar and uric acid tests. Students will be trained in all medical procedures prior to the trip. The students will also have an opportunity to help design and deliver health education workshops for local youth in the second week of the service project.

Cost: $3,000 includes roundtrip flight, lodging, meals, project materials and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

Sustainability (Holar, Iceland)

Dates: August 10-20, 2019

Deadline to apply: November 30, 2018

A delegation of UC San Diego students will participate in a service-learning trip to Iceland (a community experiencing the impacts of climate change today) and culminate in climate change and carbon neutrality education and outreach. Students on the Iceland trip will work closely with Dr. Carolyn Kurle of UC San Diego Biological Sciences department and partners at Holar University College in Iceland to engage in meaningful research, collecting data from organic matter and learning to analyze it for stable isotopes to track the rate of climate change and how it is affecting the food web and the larger ecological system. With Dr. Kurle, students could use the data to write a manuscript publishable in a scientific journal on which all involved students would be co-authors.

Cost: $3,000 includes roundtrip flight, lodging, meals, project materials and ground transportation (scholarships are available)

Alternative Weekends: U.S.-Mexico Border

Dates Postponed: The January visit has been canceled due to increased activity along the border regions. We will reschedule the trip ASAP. For additional information or to be added to the waitlist, please click on the link below.

Located only 30 miles from the UC San Diego campus, the US-Mexico is the most highly trafficked border in the entire world. Explore this complex area and the surrounding issues by viewing two different perspectives. Visit the US-Mexico Border (including secure areas between the border walls) through a tour with the US Border Patrol including an opportunity to meet Border Patrol agents and engage in a conversation where questions are highly encouraged. Serve alongside Border Angels, local activists who believe this is a humanitarian issue and advocate for immigration reform, in performing water drops along migrant crossing routes to prevent dehydration and outreach to day laborers.

Cost: $20 includes transportation to/from UCSD campus, t-shirts, and project materials

Register for the AB: US-Mexico Border Trip!

Basic Needs

Dates TBD

Explore basic needs such as food insecurity through service! Tour a food pantry and Basic Needs Resource Center and use your creative talents to find solutions to increase access to these invaluable resources. Explore basic needs beyond the United States border by building a beehive for a microfinance program in Mexico for low-income families. Meet the families and learn how honey is used to improve their lives through better nutrition, economic stability and improved living conditions. 

Learn more:

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