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Alternative Break Leader Experience

Leading an Alternative Break is an intensive and immersive leadership experience that pushes students out of their comfort zones as they develop community based enagement opportunities around the world. The leadership experience promotes skill development in areas as diverse as training, facilitation, budget management, facilitation, partnership development, and much more. Student leaders propose, organize, and execute all the American University Alternative Break Programs. Each spring prospective student leaders propose international and domestic trips focused on a range of social justice themes for the following acadmeic year. These experiences are designed to heighten student participants’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth, and prepare them for lifelong social action. Alternative Break leadership is a 15-20 hour weekly commitment throughout the academic year as they build, design, train, and prepare for social engagement. Please visit our sampling of past program themes and locations to learn more. 

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Our program's focus was Northern Ireland’s conflict transformation and reconciliation efforts following a thirty-year sectarian conflict, and how Brexit is affecting current power-sharing efforts. While COVID-19 prevented us from traveling, I am immensely proud of all of the work that my co-leader Maggie and I have accomplished. Our goal for this Alt Break was simple - we wanted to teach people. We wanted people to learn about a thirty-year period of ethno-sectarian violence that is rarely talked about in everyday life, yet remains very relevant to understanding current affairs. Our participants were enthusiastic and eager to learn throughout the months leading up to the program, and their genuine desire to learn was visible in each of our pre-departure meetings.

Jenni & Liz

Alternative Break was a chance to not only build up leadership skills, but to use our role as students to give tools to those around us, so that they could further their understanding on an issue we are very passionate about. It challenged us to always be considerate about entering another community's space in a meaningful and ethical way. We are beyond proud of everything that we’ve been able to accomplish as co-leaders! We will always carry this experience with us. We also wanted to give a small shout out to our Alternative Break Graduate Assistant Jackie because the compassion she's given to us empowers people to keep going.