The Alternative Breaks program provides students with the opportunity to learn about political and social community dynamics while becoming a catalyst for collaborative social change. Through learning and practice, students will explore the theory of integrating service, education, and reflection to create meaningful change in their communities.
Last year over 250 NYU students traveled across the world to spend their winter break or spring break working with various host communities on such issues as poverty alleviation, homelessness, public health, food justice, economic inequality, and the environment.
NYU Alternative Breaks fosters a community of active citizens by challenging participants to engage with social issues through a commitment to social justice education; strong, direct service; and reflection to create meaningful change in their respective communities.
Our vision is to create a community of lifelong active citizens who prioritize the pursuit of social justice: people who value the community as a priority when making life decisions. As part of the Alternative Break experience, participants will become more educated and experienced in all sides of a social issue. Upon return, they will be empowered to make more informed decisions and take meaningful action that supports a greater good. They will become contributing members of society and will weigh in on issues that impact their community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Alternative Breaks provide students the opportunity to participate in a year-long experience exploring social, political, and cultural dynamics of a communiy. Through learning and practice, students explore the theory of integrating service, education, and reflection to create meaningful change in their communities.
After checking out the website and becoming familiar with our program, fill out the online application. Be sure you fully understand the responsibilities and expectations for Site Leader/Participants. Site Leader applications are available mid-March and participant applications are available early September each year.
If this is your first experience with Alternative Breaks, co-curricular service learning, or community service, we recommend you apply for a Participant position. However, if you have participated in one of our Alternative Break trips in the past, are familiar with service-learning and possess demonstrated leadership abilities, or have led a community service trip previously, we encourage you to consider applying for a Site Leader position. Site Leader applicants may request to be considered for Participant positions as well.
Two trained student site leaders lead each trip. International trips have two full-time University administrators attend as well as the two student site leaders. Domestic trips have one full-time University administrator as well as the two student site leaders.
The final decision of placement is made by the Alternative Breaks Coordinators. Applicants will have an opportunity to select up to 3 of their top choices for social issues on the application, and the student placement committee will do their best to place students on their highest preference.
You are responsible for talking with your physician and looking on the Center for Disease Control website to make informed choices of which immunizations you will need.
The staff at the NYU Student Health Center Travel Medicine are prepared to provide you with the latest health information and immunization services for your trip. The earlier you prepare for your trip abroad, the better. Please contact Travel Medicine as soon as you know that you are traveling to determine your travel health requirements. We advise you to schedule appointments 4-6 weeks in advance of your trip, if possible. To schedule your Travel Medicine appointment, please call the Student Health Center at 212-443-1188.
Only fully matriculated students who are in good standing with the University and are not University faculty, staff, administrators, or alumni are able to participate in the Alternative Breaks Program.
Decide which trip you would like to go on by going to info sessions, visiting Alternative Breaks at Club Fest or reading about them on the trips section of this website.
Please review all trips. On the application you will be able to select your top choice for social issue.
The Alternative Break program makes every effort to ensure that students with disabilities can participate successfully in Alternative Break programs. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee that facilities or support services will be available at each location in the same range and quality as on the NYU campus. We encourage students with disabilities to meet with staff at the Center for Student Life or the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) to discuss accommodation needs and identify appropriate sites.
Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. Alcohol affects group dynamics, participant safety, the local community, the University, and the national alternative break student movement. As members of Break Away, we adhere to the 8 Quality Components, including alcohol free breaks.
As with any volunteer program, cost is a factor. The Alternative Breaks Program is partially subsidized by the NYU Center for Student Life, but each student accepted into the program must fundraise to help underwrite their experience.
All payments to the Alternative Breaks Program are accepted in cash or check (made out to New York University) at the Service Office in the Center for Student Life. Students may authorize Alternative Breaks to charge their Bursar Account for any amount due.