What is Alternative Breaks (AB)?
Alternative Breaks (AB) is a program within the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement that sends small groups of UT students to communities outside central Texas on a spring break long trip. These trips allows UT students the rare opportunity to travel outside their communities to work with unique people in a unique community. Participants will learn of the social justice issues their unique community is facing, learn how to work with their community to build a beneficial mutual relationship, and deal with the issues facing their community. Lastly, the service trip will also count towards community service requirements so students can collect volunteer hours in a immersive and life changing way.
What exactly will participants be doing on their respective trip?
Participants will be working with the local communities to advocate or alleviate a plethora of social justice issues such as poverty, homelessness, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and immigration. Furthermore, participants will have the opportunity to explore their respective cities and meet with local public figures. Click here to find out more about what participants will be doing in each individual trips.
What does the application process look like?
Details on the application process can be found on the Alternative Breaks application which is released around the beginning of each fall semester. For a short summary, participants will have to fill out the online application and if selected, applicants will participate in a group interview. Applicants who are chosen will have to attend various events during the fall and attend weekly meetings during the spring starting February 3rd (Sunday 5 pm – 7 pm) to prepare for their upcoming trip. More information can be found on the application.
How many students will be accepted to attend each trip?
Eleven UT students, two trip leaders, and one graduate student will be selected to attend each trip.
What qualifications are you looking for within a participant?
The only requirement for Alternative Breaks is that participants make it to all AB events in order to prepare for their service trips (Dates specified in application). Alternative Breaks is a wonderful opportunity for those who are interested in a public service career, policy, grassroots organizations, or community service. That does not mean that you have to have an interest in those specific areas to apply for Alternative Breaks. At the core, Alternative Break coordinators are looking for bright individuals who are passionate about social justice and embraces the core of AB, which is learning, community service, simplicity, and active citizenship.
What are the locations AB participants will travel too?
Alternative Break participants will have the opportunity to travel to three locations: Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and South Texas areas (McAllen/Brownsville).
When will participants leave for their respective trips?
Alternative Break participants will leave on Saturday, March 16th and will not return until Saturday, March 23rd.
How will AB participants reach their trip location? What mode of transportation will be used?
All AB participants will travel with their groups to their respective trip location. AB participants looking to travel to Houston, New Orleans, and South Texas will be traveling the open roads in a SUV starting from Austin, Texas. Throughout the various AB trips, participants should prepare to walk, use various modes of public transportation, and be driven by SUV.
How safe will I be?
As with any travel, there are dangers but steps have been taken to minimize all risk because safety is the top priority for all Alternative Breaks trip. Each trip’s routes and sites are screened carefully to ensure the safety of all participants. During the trips, participants will be participating in AB lead activities from night to day so participants will never stray from the group.
How much will it cost to participate in Alternative Breaks?
The trip expense for the Houston trip is approximately $250, the New Orleans trip is approximately $350, and the South Texas trip is approximately $300. To alleviate the expense, there will be fundraising and scholarship opportunities available to AB participants that will reduce the total cost. Also, payments will be due in increments so there is no need to pay all at once.
What are the living, eating, and sleeping arrangement like?
The trip expense will pay for everything besides souvenirs so do not worry about paying extra. The sleeping quarter is modest, participants will be sleeping on bunks, cots, or in sleeping bags throughout the trip. Meals will be provided for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most meals will be home-cooked by participants but there will be opportunities to try local restaurants. Strict diet preferences will be accommodated for if specified.
What are AB policies on Alcohol? Drugs?
There is a zero tolerance for use of alcohol and drugs during the Alternative Breaks experience. Any instance of a participant possessing or consuming drugs or alcohol during the trip will result in the participant being sent home and charged the full price of transportation with no chance of refund.
What are AB policies on cellphones?
We push AB participants to challenge themselves in new ways and practice simplicity by asking that participants do not utilize their cellphones for the entirety of the trip in order to immerse themselves in the AB experience. Participants will stick together during all activities and will not be out late at night so there is no need to worry about getting lost. Additionally, trip leaders will be allowed to possess a cellphone to be used during a emergency only.
Are there any info sessions for AB?
All info sessions for the 2017-2018 AB trips have passed. If you have any specific questions or want to talk to someone personally about alternative breaks please feel free to visit the fourth floor of the student services building or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.