Alternative Break Spotlight: Amy

Amy Hannum  

Trip Leader for Art for Social Change 


“When I first saw SAIL’s Alternative Breaks flyer, I was surprised by the range of social issues that these trips focus on. As I was looking through the options, one particularly caught my attention: Mass Incarceration & Environmental Justice in Camden, New Jersey. As an Environmental and Sustainability Studies major with a concentration in Equity and Environmental Justice, this intersection between the environment and social justice was a perfect match for me.
Although this city had been targeted by destructive policies and corrupt institutions for decades, its heart was still beating stronger than ever. As we met elementary-aged students who wrote poetry based on their experiences and attended workshops by entrepreneurs who use their creativity to help others, we learned that self-expression has been the driving force behind this incredible city.
Personally, the most valuable part of this experience was attending an “Inside and Out Prison Exchange Program” workshop hosted by incarcerated individuals at SCI-Phoenix and the Graterford Think Tank. Upon entering the prison, we were immediately greeted by our friends before the workshop began. Having the privilege to walk out of the prison that day is a feeling I will never forget.
As college students, we are fortunate to have so many opportunities to learn about social issues. The key to resolving social issues will always be within the communities themselves. SAIL Alternative Break trips are an amazing way to work directly with communities and learn about their needs.
The next time you see someone who you think might be experiencing homelessness, smile and say “hi” and maybe even ask how they are doing. If you hear someone speak a language you don’t know, challenge yourself to learn a few words or phrases so that next time, you can talk to them. Social action is not only about writing papers and conducting research. It’s about creating communities with people with experiences different than your own.”