Serving alongside other students who are also interested in social change quickly turns strangers into friends – making Alternative Break programs a great way to meet new people.

"I started at IUPUI in January of 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its worst, so I didn’t have many chances to meet new people who have the same interests and passions as I do," Tan said.

"Alternative Breaks provided me with the opportunity to do so. This year’s participants had really high energy levels. We had a great time chatting or playing games each night and got to know each other well."

Kulkarni also came away from this year’s trip with lasting memories. "I made friends with an incredible cohort. We all bonded on the car ride to Detroit, cooked Indian food together and were excited to see the U.S.-Canadian border."

Creating change on campus

What was learned on Alternative Break didn’t just stay in Detroit. Students returned to campus with new insights and applied lessons and experiences from the trip to their everyday lives.

"Being an RA for the Women in Science House, I am taking the initiative to reduce paper by finding different ways to effectively distribute event information," Kulkarni said.

"This trip reinforced my perspectives on countering environmental racism and speaking up when I feel like something is wrong."

Students can apply to be part of an Alternative Break trip each fall and spring semester. Follow @jagbreak on Instagram for trip recaps and details on when applications will open for future trips.

*All images are from this fall's trip and were supplied by Madha Kulkarni and Zhen Hong Tan.