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Community Engagement & Service

AU Alternative Breaks. Solidarity. Equality. Justice.

 Alternative Breaks are year-long, student-led service-learning immersion programs that promote student leadership, equality, ethical volunteering, and social justice by cultivating a society of active citizens with the tools, resources, and experience to be effective leaders and allies within their local and global communities.

Student groups partner with community initiatives on a variety of social justice issues, from immigration rights to environmental protection and defense of freedom and human rights to race/gender/identity issues. Direct engagement occurs in locations across the globe and students have an opportunity to learn from community leaders ranging from New Orleans to Dominican Republic, Texas, and Laos. 

If you're interested in engaging your local and global communities through service, activism, academic inquiry, and leadership, then feel free to explore these pages, contact us with questions, and apply by the posted deadlines. We look forward to you joining us in learning about social justice issues and critically reflecting on our role in the world community.

Alternative Break Student Leader Cohort Applications, 2017-2018

Fix vs. Help vs. Serve. Apply to lead a program with a focus you're passionate about, change minds and change your world. Alternative Breaks


All American University Alternative Breaks are student lead and start with the proposal process. See the information to your right about how to apply. 

Do you have leadership but need program ideas? Let us know!
Here are some program proposal ideas that might spark your interest:
* Xenophobia in Europe - what does the future hold?
* Preservation, identity and nationalism, a view from Standing Rock
* Community Policing and Race relations in Baltimore or Ferguson
* Your idea goes here:__________________________________!

Summer 2018 Program Proposal Applications are due June 24th!

Recent News

Whole participant group in South Africa, laughing


Here are just a few highlights:

"My trip to Laos taught me a tremendous amount about a world I knew nothing about, as well as a lot I didn't know about myself." - Laos program, winter 2016-17 student participant  

"Throughout the experience, I’ve learned to listen with heart, to know with compassion, and to speak with empathy. The camaraderie I’ve developed with the other participants and leaders gave me the courage to fully analyze and heal from all the heavy moments on the program; I was able to learn strength through vulnerability. And with that strength, my experience in Vietnam has emboldened me to be a more active, global-minded citizen." - Vietnam program, winter 2016-17 student participant

Explore our programs

Contact Us

For more information, feel free to contact:

Alternative Break Office | Center for Community Engagement and Service | MGC 264

Nicole Phillips, Alternative Break Graduate Assistant altbreak@american.edu
(general inquiries)

Christine Gettings, Assistant Director for Global Learning and Leadership, CCES gettings@american.edu | 202.885.2684

Contact our office

What sparks your passion?

Smiling, inspired students on AU alt break programs.


Requests for summer program proposals (Student Leader RFP) applications are open so if you missed the winter/spring application, it is not too late to join the community! If you are an American University student with leadership experience and a passion, idea or just the drive to join the AU community, consider applying. 

Schedule a time to discuss potential proposals with the Alt Break office staff or browse past years programs on-line. We can't wait to see what change you'll bring to the world!

Explore Program Ideas

Summer RFP due June 24th!

Op-Ed: Reflections of a voluntourist: Spring Break in Haiti

SIS Senior and Alternative Break Student Leader Brennon Thompson offers incredible insight into our role as listeners, and the dangers of international aid. This article highlights many key aspects of responsible social action - reflection, listening to empower and the willingness to be critical of how our personal choices and actions perpetuate systems of social injustices. 

Read the full story

Connect with us!

Important Information: Read Before Traveling

Alternative Breaks are challenging! Please read the following information to learn more about challenges for all trips and those specifically for international trips.

Read Travel Info

Events Calendar RSS

Coming Soon

  1. CCESS Staff Retreat

  2. CCES Staff Retreat Breakout Session

  3. Welcome, Introductions, and Leader Expectation

Full Calendar

Make an e-payment!

The payment schedule for 2016-2017 year is as follows:

WINTER/SPRING PROGRAMS:

1st payment and forms: October 2 

2nd payment: October 30 

3rd payment (winter): December 4 

3rd payment (spring): January 29 

SUMMER PROGRAMS:

1st payment and forms: February 26 

2nd payment: March 26 

3rd payment: April 23 

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