Faculty Staff and Information

What is alternative break?

The Alternative Break program is an immersion experience into different cultural, environmental and socioeconomic communities across the nation and internationally. Participants provide service in exchange for education about current social and cultural issues facing the host communities.

Participants travel during school breaks (spring/winter), volunteering for nonprofit and community agencies. Alternative Breaks offer an opportunity to learn about social issues while collaborating with students who share similar passions.

What is the structure of alternative break? What is my role vs. the role of the student site leader?

Student site leaders are expected to have an authentic leadership role in the group, in planning, implementation, and reflecting on the trip. The site leader school should prepare students to plan virtually every aspect of the trip: from budgeting, to meeting planning, to conflict resolution. That said, students on occasion need extra mentoring, support, or help if they run into a road block while putting their trip together. In addition, we rely heavily on community members to take the lead in emergency situations and be in contact with personnel from the SLiCE office or international programs if an issue arises.  Finally, community members are expected to be engaged, involved, and provide good role modeling and support for the student participants.

What is my purpose as a community member?

The purpose of community members is to play a “backseat” role, advising and supporting the Alternative Break Site Leaders as they plan and facilitate a successful Alternative Break trip. Community Members may find themselves stepping in to mediate a hard conversation, or helping with a difficult situation (fender benders and flat tires anyone?). For the most part, Community Members support comes behind the scenes though as we want to allow the Site Leaders full ownership of the experience.

Requirements for Participation

  • Attend a minimum of four (of seven total) Wednesday night meetings
  • Participate in the week-long spring break experience (Saturday – Saturday of the university spring break)
  • Have regular communication with student site leaders and Alt Break professional staff
  • Serve as the responsible adult, supporting students on the trips in times of need

Individual and Professional Growth Opportunities

  • Build connections with current CSU students of various backgrounds, identities, and majors
  • Share expertise and professional knowledge with student leaders and participants
  • Utilize and improve facilitation skills
  • Collaborate with the trip’s community partners/non-profits/agencies
  • Cultivate and further hone interpersonal skills, communication, planning, leadership, critical thinking, active problem solving, and more
  • Broaden world-views through interactions with different cultural, environmental, and socioeconomic communities
  • Develop an awareness and consideration of various life experiences and identities

How do I get more information?

Contact Michael Buttram at michael.buttram@colostate.edu for more information about alternative breaks. You can also visit the alternative breaks website for up to date information on future trips, deadlines, and more!

If you are accompanying an international trip (or interested in getting involved), it is critical that you work in collaboration with the International Education Office at Colorado State University. We strongly recommend that you visit with a representative from the International Programs Office for copies of all of the forms, timelines, and deadlines required for all international field experiences at CSU.