Contact Alternative Breaks

1110 Adele H. Stamp Student Union
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


Winter Experiences (AWB) January 11-21, 2018

*Costs currently listed are estimates and may fluctuate due to transportation and housing costs.

Cruise to a Sustainable Future: How an economy based on eco-tourism can impact people and the environment

Our work will focus on maintaining and constructing infrastructure conducive to the conservation of the ecosystems and landscapes of the island. Environmental conservation and management is crucial in the Bahamas due to the high volume of tourists that visit the archipelago each year. These visitors combined with a lack of wide-spread conservation programs across the islands result in land damage, loss of biodiversity, and water pollution. With continued human activity, sea levels will continue to rise, and soon much of this paradise will be lost to the sea. We will spend a few days in Nassau learning about the island’s rich culture and environment through conversations with representatives at the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation, Bahamas Waste and the University of the Bahamas. The remainder of our time will be in Andros, working hands on with our local community partners, including the Bahamas National Trust, to protect and preserve natural habitats and promote visitors to be more conscious of their actions. So get ready to be outdoors for some adventure, excitement, and a whole new level of learning!

Basic Trip Information:

Location: Nassau and Andros, Bahamas

Dates of Trip: January 11-21 

Cost: $1100

Experience Leaders: Chris Luthers and Cathy Wang

Oh the Hu-Manatee:Environmental & Wildlife Preservation in Central Florida's State Parks 

Blue Springs State Park has more than 2,600 acres including the largest spring on the St. Johns River. This State Park is a designated manatee refuge and home to various endangered plants and animals; such as Curtis's milkweed, the gopher tortoise, and the Florida scrub-jay. In order to educate ourselves about the issues facing state parks and the surrounding communities, we will be working as volunteers for the State Park in various capacities that could include building a trail, assisting with re-planting, invasive species removal and/or other projects. These projects will help us delve deep into the importance and role of state parks in environmental conservation. If wildlife and the environment is something you’re passionate about, this trip is for you!

Basic Trip Information:

Location: Blue Springs State Park, Florida 

Dates of Trip: January 11-21

Cost: $300

Experience Leaders: Kat Jackson and Richie Roberts

College Bound: The Changing Landscape of Education in Gaston, NC

Gaston is a small North Carolina town near the Virginia border with a population of just over 1,100 people. The public schools in Gaston score significantly below the state average on standardized tests, while the students at the KIPP: GCP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools perform well above the state average. We will explore the unique KIPP model by partnering with KIPP: Gaston College Prep middle school. The team will spend each full day in the classrooms, assisting the teachers, and working with 5th-8th grade students who are college bound from an early age. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in dialogue about teacher training and educational policy and explore differences between public, private, charter, rural, urban, and suburban school systems. Connecting with with community members, teachers, parents, and administrators will provide multiple perspectives into community life and how the school's setting influences students’ learning.

Basic Trip Information:

Location: Gaston, NC

Dates of Trip: January 11-21

Cost: $250

Experience Leaders: Cynthia Chen and Harriet Dadzie

Growing a Sustainable Community in Los Andes, Guatemala

When considering sustainable development as a social issue within the context of Los Andes, participants will be asked to observe keenly and openly how the reserve meets the needs of the local coffee and tea farmers and citizens in a cost-effective manner, with minimal negative environmental repercussions. Agro-tourism is advocated for thoroughly to provide outsiders with the opportunity to witness the natural splendor and amazing biodiversity the reserve has to offer, while providing financial gains that help support the reserve economically. 

By working with our community partner La Reserva Los Andes and helping with these efforts, we hope that participants will realize the importance of sustainable development within these communities. If there is any lesson to be learned from this trip, it is that local, grassroots efforts to implement change in sustainability are absolutely essential to creating comparable changes globally. The actions and services in Los Andes provide a great example of what can be accomplished by a group of dedicated citizens who choose to not live off the land, but live with the land. 

Basic Trip Information:

Location: Reserva Los Andes on Volcano Atitlán, Guatemala 

Dates of Trip: January 11-21

Cost: $1485

Experience Leaders: Madi Michael and Valeria Morales

Mountains Beyond Mountains: Amplifying Voices through Advocacy in Haiti

While in Haiti, participants partner with the Mennonite Central Committee, an international NGO, to learn about the root causes of Haiti’s current issues and gain a fuller understanding of the complex, multifaceted issues found in the nation today. Students visit community leaders, Haitian-led NGOs, schools, businesses and social organizations. They learn not only about the role of colonial domination in Haiti’s inherent issues, but also about local growing solutions. Through workshops, meetings, and activities with community members and coalitions passionate about shedding light on a number of issues, participants will gain insight and skills into effective advocacy as a form of service. 

Participants will participate in required weekly pre-trip meetings from the end of October through December, read The Big Truck that Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, engage in a 10 day to two-week immersive experience centered in Port-au-Prince, and attend 2 post-trip meetings including an activation project 

Basic Trip Information:

Location: Port au Prince, Haiti

Dates of Trip: January 11-21

Cost: $1675

Experience Leaders: Maigane Diop and Tori Tully

Beautiful Bayou: Preserving Environment, Culture, and Community in New Orleans, LA 

The ecological and political causes and effects of hurricanes and off-shore drilling have plagued centuries old communities along the Gulf Coast. Through this Alternative Break experience, we hope to learn more about the intersections among race, socioeconomic class, and the environment in the aftermath of natural disasters. We will join  Common Ground Relief and residents in the Lower 9th Ward to focus specifically on the rehabilitation of wetlands as a natural storm buffer. The team will wade and canoe through wetlands, work with outdoor community spaces, plant native trees and grasses plantings, and conduct neighborhood cleanups. Connecting with community leaders and hearing from guest speakers, participants will also explore the rich culture and history of a unique city while taking a look at the very real effects of communities separated by racial, cultural, and socioeconomic lines.

Basic Trip Information:

Location: New Orleans, LA

Dates of Trip: January 11-21

Cost: $580 

Experience Leaders: Alex Ortiz and Joseph Thompson