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.
Where Are We Going This Year?
- 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.
Berkeley News: Students to build partnerships on ‘alternative break’ in Puerto Rico
- Immigrant Rights: Arizona
Alien Resistance: Deconstructing the Immigrant Narrative in Arizona
As a response to the current oppression of children, women, men, indigenous people and LGBTQ folks. In addition to the ongoing displacement of people of color throughout the Americas. Dutifully, this DeCal will be inclusive in deconstructing the pyramid of power in a classroom setting replacing it with collaborative consensus. In like manner, Contemporary Crimmigration contends U.S. immigration policies and it's supporters, recurring oppression, exploited trauma, deliberate policing, mass incarceration and anti-immigrant rhetoric. By providing a safe space to hear the perspectives and experiences of recent asylum seeking families and formerly incarcerated individuals. By comparison this class explores immigrant narratives by acknowledging it's competing against Immigration Customs and Enforcement, U.S. governmental agencies and the fabricated migrant crisis born of induced fear. The duration of the semester will be devoted to what wasn't publicized or politicized in reference to the immigrant experience as we know it. Lastly, to confront our findings and to move from away from being an 'ally' to become a 'collaborator.' This can be done by being self aware, practicing self-help, creating healthy esteem, then reaching self actualization.
- Farmworker Rights: Central Valley
Scarcity in a Land of Plenty: Water Contradictions of California’s Central Valley
Our trip will interact the deeply rooted history of oppression in the Central Valley through the theme of water. We will learn about the farmworkers who advocate and fight to improve working conditions and of the unincorporated communities that fight to access basic infrastructure (water, education, city representatives). Participants will connect with community organizers and will learn about the history of resistance and injustice in the valley. Throughout, participants will learn strategies of organizing and discuss the process of change via ally to advocacy in the Central Valley.
- Environmental and Food Justice: Bay Area
Resistance & Resilience: Securing Urban Sustainability in the Bay Area
This trip & DeCal examines issues of environmental and food justice in the Bay Area with an emphasis on urban sustainability and welfare. We find truth in the idea that all people have the right to live in a clean, healthy environment and to access the natural resources needed to secure life stability. Throughout this study, we will critically interrogate the social, political, and economic forces by which people have historically been and presently are granted or deprived of these rights, and discuss how institutional engagement and grassroots advocacy can serve as ignitors and resistors of change.
- 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 class will focus on topics far less expected than health insurance and medical care. Looking more into the impact of policies, government regulations and funding rather than the political and diplomatic processes behind them, some of the topics addressed will be food deserts, homelessness, housing inequality and environmental racism. These will be talked about in the context of South LA where people of multiple and intersecting identities including people of color, undocumented folx, LGBTQ+, and homeless are affected by these factors, all of which contribute to their decline in health and opportunity. 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.
- Immigration Rights: San Diego
Deconstructing the Immigrant Narrative
In this DeCal and service trip, we will explore the topic of immigration in relation to the Mexican-U.S. border. Determined to deconstruct the immigrant narrative by understanding the perspectives of the media, government policies, and immigrant stories. Some specific topics we will discuss are about Migrant Workers and the Labor System in San Diego. We will also attempt to assimilate the various identities within the immigrant communities: women, children, LGBTQ, and veterans. We will be analyzing articles, readings, images, and videos while also participating in meaningful discussion, reflection, and interaction.
Your Donation’s Impact
Please make a gift today to support Alternative Breaks trip leaders and participants. 100% of your donation will go toward student trip fees, which covers travel expenses, lodging, and meals.
“Commitment. The social issues that Alt Breaks attempts to combat are historical struggles that are ongoing. Long-term change requires education, authentic connection, and hands-on action. All of which require time, effort, and commitment.
Gabby Arreola, San Diego Break Leader
“Alternative Breaks has impacted my experience here at Cal greatly by providing me a chance to challenge my pre-conceieved notions of the world through discursive conversation and also to learn about important issues that are facing our society that often go overlooked. In College, it is easy to get lost in your academics and forget about activism and service work. Alt Breaks provides a way to combine all three and help you grow as a person more than you ever thought possible.”
Anjali venkatesh / community partnerships director
“Alternative Breaks has given me an opportunity to grow alongside amazing individuals who are all passionate about sustainable change. Being a break leader has allowed me to think critically about the various issues that impact many communities and has made me more aware of how effective change can be brought up.”
Stephanie rosa / urban health break leader
“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.”
Rosa enriquez / puerto rico break leader