Mason’s Alternative Break (AB) programs are collaboratively designed by students and staff to address social issues through education and community service. Alternative Break teams face challenging issues such as discrimination, inadequate housing, hunger, and poverty. Students emerge from these experiences transformed with new ideas, perspective, and experiences that inspire active and engaged citizenship.
As a founding member of Break Away, we infuse our program with the eight components identified as qualities of high quality Alternative Break experiences: Strong Direct Service, Education, Orientation, Training, Reflection, Reorientation, Diversity, and Alcohol/Drug-free. Break Away’s continuum of individual development from Volunteer to Active Citizen informs our approach to trip preparation and design.
The Alternative Break program receives guidance from a core team of students who work year-round to develop a high quality program. Each Executive Board member serves on a coordinating committe: Marketing and Recruitment, Training or Fundraising. Executive Board members receive priority registration for the trip of their choice. Contact SAIL to get involved on AB Executive Board.
Alternative Break is a peer-to-peer leadership program. Team leaders are selected through an application process, and are provided training and support through the planning process. While some trips may have faculty or staff who serve as learning partners, students lead all alternative break experiences. Expectations of leadership include participation in a program retreat and weekly meetings for ongoing support through trip development.
Students are responsible for payment of trip fees. Most students fundraise individually and with their team to defray costs. SAIL does not want finances to be a barrier to participation and supports by advising fundraising initiatives and establishing individualized payment plans. In addition, need-based scholarship are provide in-part by the Parents Funds.
For students who wish to deepen their learning, a credit option is available. Through individual inquiry and critical reflection papers, students engage in a closer examination of the implications of their service and the social issues addressed through the trip.