Alternative Breaks (Alt Breaks) is one of the many service-based programs overseen by the UC Berkeley Public Service Center. Since 2001, Alt Breaks, a student-led service organization, offers students opportunities to explore social issues through education, meaningful service, and reflection during their spring breaks. Alt Breaks aims to introduce students to a particular social issue through a DeCal seminar, apply their knowledge and engage with community partners during a week-long immersive trip, and challenge students to reflect critically on problems faced by members of the communities with which they are involved.
New Trip Highlight: Puerto Rico
In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico resulting in one of the worst natural disasters in recent times. Now, more than a year later, Puerto Rico continues its rebuilding efforts. For UC Berkeley student Pablo Paredes, Puerto Rico is home – it impacted him deeply and personally. Last spring break, he and his co-trip leader visited Puerto Rico to identify possible community partners to support. In Spring 2019, Pablo and Rosa will return to the island to lead an Alternative Break trip with a group of twelve undergraduates ready to learn and support community partners with recovery efforts.
This Year's Trips
- Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Se Levanta!
Our DeCal will explore the cultural and political herstory of the Island of Puerto Rico and its people in order to give context to the current crisis exacerbated by Hurricane’s Irma and Maria. Topics will include understanding the geo-political value historically of the Island to the United States, the forced migration campaigns that led to massive diasporic presence in cities like New York, the Jones Act, tax haven policies, and a look at the ways in which Puerto Rico has been a social, political and medical laboratory for US corporations and foreign policy.
- Animal Justice: Oregon
Cracking the Lens of Consumerism: An Analysis of Exploitation in Animal Industries
Over the course of the semester, our DeCal will explore the systemic exploitation of human and non-human animals that takes place within animal-based industries and the effects they have on society. We hope that by exploring human-animal relationships, we will be able to connect animal justice to other social justice issues and re-evaluate our personal choices and the capitalist system in which we live to create a more peaceful world for human and non-human animals alike.
- Immigrant Rights: Arizona
Alien Resistance: Deconstructing the Immigrant Narrative in Arizona
This DeCal and service trip will focus on demystifying immigrants and undocumented people by looking at Arizona as a place where these identities are in a clash with the state through the creation of the legislations SB1070 and the recently reversed HB2281. We will also learn about the experiences of women, children, indiginous and LGBTQ folks and explore the education of immigrants and undocumented people. Finally, we will look at the ways in which undocumented people are resisting through Immigration Artivism and social justice movements.
- Farmworker Rights: Central Valley
Scarcity in a Land of Plenty: Water Contradictions of California’s Central Valley
The DeCal and service trip will examine the history of resistance in the Central Valley incorporating two main themes: labor rights and environmental justice. We will learn about the history of immigration and agriculture in the Central Valley, and discuss the politics that led to inequalities in water access.
- Environmental and Food Justice: Bay Area
Resistance & Resilience: Securing Urban Sustainability in the Bay Area
This DeCal and trip will examine issues of environmental and food justice in Berkeley and the greater Bay Area with an emphasis on urban sustainability and welfare. We find truth in the idea that all people have the rights to live in a clean, healthy environment and to access the natural resources needed to secure life stability.
- Native American Rights: Campo Kumeyaay Nation, CA
We’re Still Here: Global Native/Indigenous Resistance
Our DeCal and service trip aim to teach participants about Native American/Indigenous issues around the globe, including the Ohlone peoples of this area. During the Spring Break trip we will be residing in the Campo Kumeyaay Nation, where participants will visit various resources the reservation has that serve their community such as their Environmental Protection Agency and Education Center.
- Urban Health: Los Angeles
Sprouting through Cement: Changing the Focus on “Health” Issues Affecting LA’s Communities
Using Los Angeles as the location for hands-on learning and serving, the Urban Health DeCal will focus on food deserts, homelessness, housing inequality and environmental racism. The class and trip will also give an optimistic outlook into the work South LA’s communities and partners are doing to sustain their neighborhoods, their health and the rights of future Angelenos.
Your Donation's Impact
100% of your donation goes toward student trip fees, including travel expenses, lodging, and meals. Your generous support allows Alternative Breaks trip leaders and participants to engage in transformative life experiences that have a lasting impact.
If you would like your donation to go to a specific trip, please make a note in the "Special Instructions for this gift" box on the Give page.
"Life-changing. The program is able to provide so much opportunities to grow as a leader, a student, social justice activist, and as a person. It is a program that does not get enough recognition for all the work, love, and commitment that goes into and I am hoping within the next years, folxs will be able to see how amazing a program like Alternative Breaks is."
"Alternative Breaks allows me to put into practice community work and community love. It reminds me how important patience is in social justice work and how we can continue supporting our communities while healing ourselves in the process."
"My time with Alt Breaks has made me realize that my time here at Cal is going towards something meaningful. I am able to only make an impact on campus and in our community but I'm able to take everything I've learned through Alt Breaks and apply into my life after college."
"Illuminating. Alt-Breaks provides an impactful snapshot into the social problems our communities face. Not only that, the dynamic of undergrads leading undergrads allows for new pedagogical perspectives and fosters the growth of community and family."