IUPUI Alternative Breaks: Spring Break with a Purpose
“I’ve learned to broaden my horizons and think about the bigger picture. My mind was blown by how much I need to do in order to impact the world. I need to work harder and be more passionate about the world around me. My alternative spring break experience was everything I needed. It exceeded my expectations and I am amazed on how much I’ve absorbed in five days!”
– Participant on the ‘Animal Welfare’ trip, 2017
What are Alternative Breaks?
Alternative Breaks (AB) are community service trips that take place during fall and spring breaks. They are an “alternative” to the common break experience because they provide students with an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different community through service. Every trip is centered around a social issue, like “poverty” or “immigration”. To read more, visit our FAQ page.
Benefits of an Alternative Break Experience
These breaks are intensive educational and social service-learning experiences that contribute positively towards student GPA and retention. Students who go on a trip are eligible to apply for the Alternative Break Scholarship and plan their own trip the following year. Many students also find the trips to be a fun way to meet new friends.
2017 Alternative Spring Break Trips
This year 91 IUPUI students and their staff advisors went on 8 different trips around the United States. The trips were led by current undergraduate leaders in the Alternative Break Scholarship program who have been planning the experience since summer 2016. For spring break, students left campus on Sunday, March 12 and returned that following Saturday, March 18. During the week, students did four days of service work with one or more community organizations and then had one day to explore the local culture. Every evening included discussions reflecting on their service, the social issue, and their experiences. On April 28th, all AB trips reunited for ‘Reorientation’; a day of community service and education in Indianapolis.
This year’s trips focused on the following social issues:
- Animal Welfare - Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary, NC
- Environmentalism - Kiptopeke State Park, VA
- HIV/AIDS – The Lazarus Project, New Orleans, LA
- Indigenous People’s Rights – Kansas City Indian Center, MO
- Interfaith with a focus on Islamophobia – multiple service sites, Philadelphia, PA
- Mental Health – CHADS Coalition, St. Louis, MO
- Rural Poverty – Low Income Housing Coalition of East Kentucky (LINKs), Martin, KY
- Systemic Racism with a focus on Gentrification and Food Deserts - Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Pittsburgh, PA
Snapshots of AB Experiences
How would students summarize their experience? Here’s what some students had to say:
“I think I learned that rural poverty is more complex than I realized. Educational opportunities do not guarantee a ticket out of poverty. This trip reinforced that poor people work hard despite their disadvantages. I learned about people willing to give the little they had to help others who have less” – Rural Poverty trip participant
“She [the staff trip advisor] helped me realize how to change my dreams into actions.” – Animal Welfare trip participant
“I learned that my personal notions about other faiths were entirely wrong. I actually knew nearly nothing about other faiths. I’ve also learned how important dialogue is to really grow interfaith. People are open and accepting of those seeking the truth” – Interfaith trip participant
"I've been on an AB trip twice now and both the times it has been quite an experience. I made new friends, I mean family. And learned a lot about the respective topics and about culture and society in general. As an International Student, my goal was to learn as much as I could about the US in these 2 years. … Being a foreign national myself, I was able to connect and I made so many new friends, whom I will call family. We shared our stories and our experiences. We also got to do service, which was pretty exciting for me as I never thought I would be able to spare time to do so here during my Master's." – Systemic Racism trip participant
“My AB experience allowed me to meet new people while working together on a common goal in a new environment” – Environmentalism trip participant