Alternative Breaks Program

ABP Leader Positions Open 

Interested in the Alternative Breaks Program? Sign up here for more information!

MISSION

Through Alternative Breaks Program (ABP), a diverse group of Georgetown community members engages with issues affecting underserved communities through service, immersion, and reflection in a substance-free environment. By creating a space for sustained dialogue, ABP strives to build long-term relationships with community partners and fosters lasting commitments to social justice.

Program Overview

The ABP traces its rich history back to 1975, when a group of Georgetown students elected to spend their spring break in Appalachia. Since its founding, Alternative Breaks has expanded to connect Georgetown students, faculty, and staff to over fifty different domestic and international communities. ABP provides students with opportunities for social justice immersion in communities across the United States throughout the year. Currently, the Program supports 23 trips that examine a diverse set of social justice issues ranging from poverty to prison reform.

No matter how far participants travel on Alternative Breaks, whether it may be to Detroit, New Orleans, Tucson, or to Wheeling, West Virginia, all participants travel and serve under the guidance of the same five Alternative Breaks pillars: justice immersion, cultural immersion, service, reflection, and substance-free fun.

Model

In order to achieve its mission, ABP uses five primary Best Practices:

    1.    Ask Why
    2.    Be Present
    3.    Challenge Your Perspective
    4.    Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
    5.    Bring It Home

These practices are used throughout ABP - during pre-trip activities, the week of spring break, post-trip activities - and beyond.

Opportunities to Get Involved

Leadership Opportunities

There are many opportunities to serve in a leadership role with the Alternative Breaks Program. Opportunities exist to develop a new trip, serve as a trip leader or lead as an ABP Board member. Click here to learn how you can deepen your engagement with ABP during your undergraduate career.

Connect to our community through social media

For more information and to join the ABP community, visit the ABP Hoyalink page and the ABP Facebook page.

Trips

Click on the trips below to read a short description of each. 

MAGIS: DECONSTRUCTING ISLAMOPHOBIA

Trip Location: Washington, D.C.  
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

DCDI will focus on understanding and eliminating the stereotypes of Muslim-Americans through critical examination as well as encouragement in recognizing the Islamic faith as an integral aspect of faith identity in America. Aspects of Islamophobia will be unpacked and fundamentally deconstructed through discussions with community partners and activists in addition to deeper conversations on the intersectionality of race, religion and identity.

CEASE VIOLENCE CHICAGO

Trip Location: Chicago, IL
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

For years, Chicago has consistently ranked highest among urban homicide rates. Communities with high crime rates are often condemned for producing a state of violence while macro-level determinants that lead to violence - such as poverty, education, racial discrimination, and the family environment - are ignored. Through engagement with the community, neighborhood immersion, and discussions with various community partners, Cease Violence Chicago (CVC) will spark discussion about what causes structural violence, cultural violence, and direct violence to exist, and ultimately, uncover how we can decrease these high rates of violence. CVC will analyze how race, education, and the intersections of other identities make one more apt to experience and/or perpetrate violence. We hope this trip will serve as a catalyst for change in our participants, so they will return to the hilltop inspired to raise awareness of the causes of violence and end cycles of violence in their own local and national communities.

DC EDUCATION IMMERSION

Trip Location: Washington, DC 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

DC Education Immersion seeks to engage Georgetown students in the complex system that is education in the District, and encourage them to dissect the causes, effects, and possible solutions to educational inequity in Washington, DC. Through classroom visits, engagement with policy makers, and conversations with parents, teachers, and administrators, we will critically investigate key issues in the education system today. Throughout the trip, we will be guided by these central questions: What can be done to ensure equity in education for all students? What systems and practices are working toward that goal? DCEI aims to cultivate an awareness that will inspire participants of diverse backgrounds and interests to become lifelong advocates for educating the whole person.

DC HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

Trip Location: Washington, DC
Date: Friday, February 17, 2017 (After 6pm) – Monday, February 20, 2017

DC Housing and Homelessness seeks to understand systems that perpetuate housing inequalities in the District of Columbia by partnering with shelters, outreach and policy organizations, and people experiencing homelessness. Based in D.C., participants will be challenged to critically consider the city’s disparate housing options, mental and public health resources, and to meaningfully engage in these issues as students in the D.C. community. This trip will focus on the intersectionality of homelessness, and, with the goal of solidarity through immersion, DCHAH will provide participants with opportunities to form lasting relationships with community partners in an effort to humanize, destigmatize, learn from, and work with those experiencing homelessness. We hope to inspire participants this President’s Day Weekend to reflect on how their experiences on DCHAH provide a framework for understanding the impact of housing insecurity in the broader DC community and nationwide.

Deafness & Ability 

Trip Location: Washington, DC and Rochester, NY
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

d/The d/Deafness and Ability trip seeks to challenge the perspectives and preconceived notions held by Georgetown students about the capabilities of d/Deaf individuals and, more broadly, people with disabilities. This trip will immerse participants in d/Deaf culture to explore the various aspects of a number of issues that affect people with disabilities, including education, incarceration, sexual orientation, accessibility and employment, by working alongside a number of community partners that work with d/Deaf individuals and those which are Deaf­-led. We hope to promote solidarity between Georgetown students and d/Deaf community members and empower our participants to be advocates for people with disabilities, both at Georgetown and throughout their lives.

No knowledge of d/Deaf issues and/or American Sign Language (ASL) is required for the trip, and we are arranging for interpreters for all pertinent visits. However, we will have some basic ASL lessons before or during the trip itself. 

(The label "deaf" refers to the physiological condition of hearing loss, while the label "Deaf" is a cultural identity centered around American Sign Language, or ASL.)

DELTA COMMUNITY CARE

Trip Locations: Mississippi
Date: Monday, January 2, 2017 – Tuesday, January 10, 2017

With some of the highest levels of obesity, infant mortality and uninsured, Mississippi has been ranked one of the most unhealthy states in the country. Delta Community Care, a winter trip, will be heading down south to Mississippi to engage with communities in both the rural delta region and the urban, capital city Jackson to better understand this overwhelming health crisis. On this trip we will explore Mississippi’s healthcare landscape by examining the role of the region’s history and political system as well as focusing on the intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. With community organizations, government organizations, and local residents, participants will discuss possible solutions to the current crisis in Mississippi and reflect on their own relationship with both individual health and community health. And it wouldn’t be a trip down south without experiencing the region’s culture through dancing, Blues, and the delicious food that gives the Delta the nickname, “The most Southern Place on Earth.”

ETHICS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Trip Location: Washington, DC & New York City, NY
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ethics of Criminal Justice gives participants the chance to critically evaluate the US criminal justice system. This trip aims to prompt conversations about the goals of this system and the extent to which it achieves them. Participants will get the chance to visit prisons, observe court hearings, and speak with a wide-ranging group of attorneys, activists, and policymakers in DC and New York. They will be encouraged to to evaluate current judicial and incarceration practices, humanize all parties involved in the system, and discover for themselves the role they feel criminal justice should play in greater society.

MAGIS: Journey - the search for home

Trip Locations: New York City, NY & Washington, DC
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Migration permeates history and affects communities across the globe. Specifically, the Jewish people have experienced centuries of mobility, at times fleeing from slavery and persecution. Magis Journey draws from the Jewish migrant experience to think critically about immigration in New York and the District of Columbia today. Magis Journey involves exploring the experience of movement, dialoguing with NY and DC migrants and refugees, evaluating policy, and taking action. The trip will include visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Participants will delve into alternative understandings of movement like the Immigrant Artist Program and service learning through teaching. Magis Journey seeks to go deeper by grounding itself in a spirituality that seeks justice. Throughout the week, group discussions will explore the parallel between a search for a new home and the spiritual search. Taking the Jewish narrative as a guiding point, all participants are encouraged to dive deeper into their own identity as migrants.

FOOTSTEPS & FUTURES

Trip Location: Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, AL
Date: May Saturday, May 14, 2017 – Saturday May 21, 2017

Footsteps & Futures will visit two cities with deep historical ties to the Civil Rights Movement while also examining less discussed narratives represented by the Black Panther Party and Black Power Movement. In Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama we will meet with veterans of these movements, visit the important spaces where their ideas were cultivated and carried out, and spend time with present day activists who represent the modern landscape of racial justice. Along the way, we will challenge our own understandings of who made up the Movements, what they achieved, and how movements create social change. By immersing ourselves in the communities that we visit and reflecting upon the current state of racial justice activism, we will challenge our roles and understanding of structural race relations in our own communities as well as more broadly within and outside of our borders.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY #1

Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

For countless families in the US and around the world, housing is not an inevitability but a luxury. Habitat for Humanity trips seek to help make affordable housing a reality for families by helping local Habitat affiliates with their projects. Apart from spending the days on builds, participants will engage with community partners and visit regional landmarks, with an emphasis on issues related to housing and poverty in their respective communities. At the end of the week, Habitat trips will not only have made a permanent and immediate difference in the life of a family in need, but also taken away a greater understanding of the causes of poverty and housing deficiencies that will allow participants to continue making a difference at Georgetown and beyond.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY #2

Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

For countless families in the US and around the world, housing is not an inevitability but a luxury. Habitat for Humanity trips seek to help make affordable housing a reality for families by helping local Habitat affiliates with their projects. Apart from spending the days on builds, participants will engage with community partners and visit regional landmarks, with an emphasis on issues related to housing and poverty in their respective communities. At the end of the week, Habitat trips will not only have made a permanent and immediate difference in the life of a family in need, but also taken away a greater understanding of the causes of poverty and housing deficiencies that will allow participants to continue making a difference at Georgetown and beyond.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY #3

Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

For countless families in the US and around the world, housing is not an inevitability but a luxury. Habitat for Humanity trips seek to help make affordable housing a reality for families by helping local Habitat affiliates with their projects. Apart from spending the days on builds, participants will engage with community partners and visit regional landmarks, with an emphasis on issues related to housing and poverty in their respective communities. At the end of the week, Habitat trips will not only have made a permanent and immediate difference in the life of a family in need, but also taken away a greater understanding of the causes of poverty and housing deficiencies that will allow participants to continue making a difference at Georgetown and beyond.

HEALTH & SOCIETY

Trip Locations: Washington, DC & New York City, NY 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Health & Society will engage with health disparities seen just miles from campus in DC, as well as in the bustling urban setting of New York City! We will hear from both activists who are actively working to reverse the spread of health inequality and community members who are affected by the problems in our healthcare system. We hope to share the stories of community members as they pertain to the causes and effects of health disparities (relating to mental health, health literacy, lack of access to care, chronic illnesses, preventative health measures, environmental health, HIV, smoking, etc.) Reflection on the intersectionalities (such as with homelessness, women’s issues, and food access) that coincide with the issues we will discuss is critical in understanding and appreciating the breadth of healthcare issues our society faces. No prior experience with these issues is needed!

MAGIS: KINO BORDER IMMERSION

Trip Location: Tucson & Nogales, AZ & Nogales, Mexico
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Kino Border Immersion is a partnership between the Center for Social Justice and the Office of Campus Ministry that strives to build participants’ understanding of immigration and the surrounding issues. Through interactions with a wide range of stakeholders in the Arizona border region, participants will learn about the structures that shape migration and gain a firsthand look at different sides and stages of the issue. By engaging in dialogue with migrants, faith leaders, workers, service providers, and law enforcement, we will attempt to humanize the issue and escape limiting stereotypes and misconceptions. The Jesuit values of interreligious understanding, faith and justice, community in diversity, and contemplation in action will guide our efforts to understand the motivations for migration, the experience of migration, and the challenges faced by migrants in the United States. Ultimately, KBI aims to facilitate a sustained commitment to education, activism, and solidarity with the migrant justice movement in our communities on the Hilltop, in DC, and around the country.

LGBTQ YOUTH HOMELESSNESS

Trip Location: New York City, NY 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

This ABP will explore the intersectional issue that is Queer Youth Homelessness. Homelessness disproportionately affects youths who identify as LGTBQ, and this trip will investigate the root causes, complex politicization, and too often ignored policing of the Queer homelessness epidemic in the United States. Furthermore, we will address potential steps that could be taken to reduce the structural violence these individuals face on a daily basis. Our case study will be New York City, but we will address the concepts of homelessness, LGBTQ rights, child welfare, and juvenile justice separately and together in the context of the country and world. We plan to call out the institutions that misrepresent Queer communities and support those programs that empower LGBTQ individuals.

MENTAL HEALTH IMMERSION

Trip Location: Boston, MA
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

The mission of Mental Health Immersion is to expose participants to traditional and alternative recovery models that exist within the US mental health care system. We aim to center our reflections around self-understanding and advocacy for those with lived experiences in our communities. Through discussions with community partners throughout the Boston area, we will listen to the voices that have been silenced by the traditional model and empowered by the alternative model, and we intend to place this relationship within the context of a civil rights issue.

NATIVE ROOTS

Trip Location: Cherokee and Lumbee, NC
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Native Roots is a service and immersion trip that examines issues of social justice and identity in the Cherokee and Lumbee tribes of North Carolina. Between engaging in local heritage and exploring natural environments, members of the Georgetown community will partake in meaningful conversation and reflection about diversity amongst Native American tribes, economic and environmental justice issues, and systemic oppression. Through visiting local schools, touring cultural centers, and exploring the community, Native Roots allows participants an opportunity to learn about the dynamic role of Native American art and culture in the United States. The trip seeks to build relationships amongst both community members and each other, and encourages participants to be witnesses to the issues faced by the broader Native American community.

MAGIS: Racial & Economic Justice in Baltimore 

Trip Location: Baltimore, MD 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Racial and economic inequalities have been a part of Baltimore history since slavery and continue to define the city in many ways today. The Magis: Racial & Economic Justice in Baltimore trip seeks to explore issues of racial and economic inequality on a structural and institutional level, including discussions of the criminal justice system, employment and housing policies, spirituality and religious institutions, and access to health and wellness resources. It also seeks to discuss movements for racial and economic justice in the context of their intersections with other identities, including gender, nationality, and sexuality. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the "charm" Baltimore is known for through art, music and strong neighborhood identities, as well as how many organizations are using these to promote justice and peace. Magis: REJ Baltimore seeks to push participants beyond disconnected intellectual analysis to make meaning of the ways in which macro forms of oppression manifest in interpersonal relationships in Baltimore and in their own lives. Participants will critically analyze their own racial and social class identities and their roles in perpetuating and fighting injustice, while establishing solidarity across the interstate 95 corridor: from Baltimore to the Hilltop.

RUST BELT REVIVAL

Trip Location: Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI & Pittsburgh, PA
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Rust-Belt Revival (RBR) heads up to Pittsburgh and Detroit to take a deep look at the issues around urban renewal efforts specific to these Midwestern cities. During this trip, participants will engage in dialogues surrounding issues of race, socioeconomic status, and economic development that are central to the Rust Belt’s narrative of struggle, success, and revitalization. In particular, we will focus on the unequal distribution of the benefits and costs of renewal efforts. In order to gain various perspectives on both the problems and solutions at play in these cities, participants will meet with a diverse group of community members, non-profit organizations, community associations, and policymakers. Participants will further further engage with community members by learning about and becoming involved with resident activism and social innovation as a start to combating local issues. In this way, RBR participants will learn firsthand about the ways these cities are working together toward a renewed urban community in the face of the unique challenges presented to cities in the Rust Belt.

SBIA EDUCATION & ECONOMIC JUSTICE

Trip Location: Pulaski, VA 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Spring Break in Appalachia: Education & Economic Justice aims to explore the often misunderstood identity of Southwest Virginia, and of Appalachia as a whole. Specifically, participants will look at the themes of education and economic justice in Pulaski, VA and the surrounding region. They will provide help as needed to Beans and Rice, a local organization that strives to advance the economic position of communities in Southwestern Virginia. With the organization, participants will aid in local construction projects and work in an after school program. Ultimately, leaders and participants hope to challenge their preconceived notions of the area and its people through engaging in meaningful dialogue with community partners, learning about the history of the region, and reflecting throughout the week.

SBIA MOUNTAIN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Trip Location: Harlan, KY 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

On Spring Break in Appalachia: Mountain Environmental Justice, participants will immerse themselves in the community of Harlan, Kentucky to better understand the intersection between the environmental and socioeconomic issues facing the larger Appalachian region. They will specifically look at the role of the coal industry and the question of mountaintop removal in the region, exploring differing perspectives on the industry and its impacts. Throughout the week, the group will hear from local organizations and community members engaged in public policy, economic justice work, and community revitalization. Participants will also work on home repair with longtime community partner COAP. They will give their time to this community with the hope of gaining insight into the perspectives of the people who live there. Ultimately, the goal of the trip is to get participants’ hands dirty, gain understanding of the environmental and economic dynamics of the area, and achieve a deeper appreciation of Appalachian mountain culture.

*Applicants should be willing to spend one night camping, weather permitting. Camping gear will be provided.

SBIA URBAN APPALACHIA

Trip Location: Chattanooga, TN 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

For the 14th year, Spring Break in Appalachia: Urban Appalachia will be traveling to Chattanooga, TN to partner with the Chattanooga Community Kitchen to explore the intersectional nature of social justice in the region, highlighting, but not limited t0: socioeconomic disparities, education, and labor. Through reflecting on what the terms “urban” and “appalachia” truly mean, participants will explore and identify how these three factors reflect the dual identity of the city. Engagement with service and immersion experiences in Chattanooga will encourage participants to ask challenging questions, look at each issue from a multitude of perspectives, and practice active listening, all while having bucket-loads of fun! Following a week of grappling with the complexities of interweaving social justice issues within the context of “urban” and “appalachian” identities, participants will have the opportunity to share their stories and those of the many voices in Chattanooga with the larger Georgetown community, while also working to parse out the similarities and differences between urban life in Washington, DC and Chattanooga, TN. SBiA: Urban Appalachia strives to foster a culture of lifelong learning and awareness regarding social justice that transcends the personal and professional lives of Georgetown community members for years to come.

WORKER JUSTICE DC

Trip Location: Washington, DC 
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Worker Justice DC participants will be challenged to engage with and reflect on the contemporary issues confronting working people in the District of Columbia. These issues, and working class answers to them, will be contextualized using labor history, community knowledge, and critical theoretical responses, addressing worker struggle from reform to revolution. This, in turn, will develop a holistic understanding of the labor movement and the many ancillary struggles that surround it. To foster this understanding, WJDC participants will meet with government organizations, policy makers, community organizers, unions, and scholars and engage in personal and group discernment and reflection. WJDC will center on DC, but will also seek to use the example of the District to scale out to discussions involving working people across the nation, and in the spirit of worker internationalism, throughout the world. This program will challenge participants to reflect on preconceived notions of the labor movement and provide them with practical skills to affect change in favor of worker liberation when they return to campus.

MAGIS: JAMAICA

Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Magis: Jamaica explores social solidarity through the Ignatian concept of magis - doing more for others. As a collaborative trip between the Office of Campus Ministry and the Center for Social Justice, Magis: Jamaica will explore the aspirations and struggles of global communities through both unique and common historical narratives. What connections exist between music (think Bob Marley), religion, and cities? Past trips have engaged questions surrounding the tourism industry, corruption, governance, and social protection in response to economic inequality. We will examine shared social conditions, nurturing empathy through the similarities between our home communities and global communities over food, service, and dialogue. Throughout the course of the week, Magis: Jamaica will challenge participants to engage in solidarity with diverse and unique communities.

Blanket New Orleans

Trip Location: New Orleans, LA 
Date: Monday, January 2, 2017 – Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Orleans holds a wealth of knowledge that can benefit communities around the world. It’s a city far beyond the images of eight-foot flooding surrounding the Superdome. We hope to achieve an understanding of the many identities of New Orleans by engaging with community partners regarding issues such as, but not limited to, post-Katrina housing, race relations, education, governmental functioning, and community rebuilding and empowerment. Our trip hopes that it is through the learning process that we are able to recognize the strengths of the community and to bring these stories of resiliency and community back home.