An alternative break is service-learning experience in which students travel to engage in direct-service. These trips are generally a week-long, and occur during spring or summer break where students work in partnership with host organizations on community-driven goals, focused on a particular social justice topic. Through exploration and immersion into the social issue long before the trip starts, students are able to interrogate the root causes of social issues in a way that allows them to engage compassionately and think critically. Upon their return, students are encouraged to engage in their own communities through informed, meaningful action.
We offer over six programs focused on social justice issues as diverse as ecosystem restoration to indigenous rights, homelessness and housing insecurity, public health, education, and more.
Alternative Breaks are yearlong commitments. Orientation, reorientation, fundraising and activism projects take place during the school year while direct engagement takes place over spring break in a variety of locations from Guatemala, New Jersey, DC, Florida, and more.
From Florida to El Salvador to Jamaica and the District of Columbia, 85 George Mason University students dedicated their spring break to education and service as part of this year’s Alternative Break trips, organized through the Social Action and Integrative Learning (SAIL) program in the School of Integrative Studies.
I graduated in the spring of 2015 from the New Century College where I majored in Integrative Studies with a concentration in International Studies and a minor in Business. In the summer of July 2015, I was given the opportunity to travel to Natal, Brazil and participate in an intercultural exchange program called US-Brazil Connect, Global Leaders Fellowship.
While many Mason students went on vacation, spent time with family, or worked over break, some students used the week to volunteer in the United States and abroad. Students traveled through Mason alternative spring break, offered through New Century College and Social Action and Integrative Learning.
Spring break doesn’t need to be a time to pause learning. It can be an opportunity to accelerate it. That’s the theory and practice behind the Social Action & Integrative Learning program (SAIL) offered by the New Century College.