Alternative Breaks

About Alternative Breaksaltbreak1

Alternative Breaks are student-led community engagement programs that promote student leadership, equality, ethical volunteering, and social justice. These programs aim to equip students with the tools, resources, and experience to be effective leaders and allies within their local and global communities.

Student groups partner with local and global initiatives on a variety of social justice issues, from access to medical care to housing inequity. Participants learn from and engage with communities near and far, while building knowledge and skills that will inform their futures.

Our Role

The Brandeis Department of Community Service offers a number of resources for club leaders and student volunteers including pre and post trip trainings and reflections, risk management information session and group teambuilding. Additionally, this webpage has resources that cover all things service-related to help prepare and support you for the variety of experiences and emotions you might encounter in your volunteering. Never hesitate to stop by our office to use these resources or find support!

Club Leader Resources
Alternative Break Handbook
A one stop shop for alternative break leaders! This handbook includes guidelines on topics including university requirements, logistics, planning, reflection, and risk management. It also includes sample participant applications, reflection questions, and more.
Document Checklist
Keep track of what important documents you need to collect as a coordinator.
Department of Community Service Waiver
Any student who volunteers MUST fill out a Student Waiver and Release of Liability form. Participants who have volunteered before their trip may have already completed this form.
Trip Consent Form 
This form includes a trip-specific agreement to abide by the Student Rights and Community Standards and release of liability. All participants must complete this form.
Community Service and Learning Agreement
Complete this agreement with your community partner, with help from the Department of Community Service. This document clarifies the responsibilities and rights of Brandeis and your community partner.
Pre-Departure Form 
This form should be completed prior to the pre-departure meeting with Department of Community Service staff, at least one month before your departure.
Incident Report
This report will only be necessary in case of an accident or if an unforeseen circumstance arises during your trip. Coordinators should review this form and save it to their shared folders in case it is needed.
Trip Summary Form 
Break Away Website– email dcsgradassistant@brandeis.edu for login information.
This national membership-based organization provides useful information for alternative break coordinators, including sample documents from universities across the country and a domestic housing database.
Student Engagement Resources
Your toolkit for any service activities. Find resources on topics like relationship-building, funding, and professionalism in volunteering.

Recent Alternative Breaks: 2015-2016

FIMRC – El Salvadoraltbreak2

FIMRC (Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children) is an organization that travels world-wide to support and promote children's health. The Brandeis chapter aids these efforts by raising funds, performing community service projects related to health, and traveling to various locales to aid in providing international relief and children's aid. 

In February 2016, they traveled to Las Delicias, El Salvador to distribute medical supplies, raise awareness on hygiene and health, and work at clinics. They put an emphasis on teaching about ZIKA virus and basic health practices such as brushing teeth and covering mouths in Las Delicias's dusty environment. 

altbreak3"Volunteering as a part of FIMRC was great because I was not able to study abroad. Going to El Salvador for the week gave me a whole new perspective on public health that I now appreciate. Watching Dr. Lopez practice was also a great experience. I learned so much from just one week and I am so thankful that I was able to partake in this experience!" - Pooja Gupta, '16 (FIMRC Volunteer)

"Having experienced two trips with FIMRC, I am so proud of both the organization and its passionate Brandeis members. It's a great way to get to know other Brandeis students who have similar interests and goals. We were able to learn so much by volunteering at the clinics and in nearby rural areas/schools and really got to understand the reality of medical availability in these areas. We are working on new initiatives now to further aid these sites from campus as we prepare for future trips and I can't wait to see how FIMRC progresses!" -Sheetala Balasubramanian, '16 (FIMRC Senior Advisor)

Service Without Borders: VINE - Vermont

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VINE Sanctuary in Vermont provides a safe haven for animals who have escaped or been rescued from the meat, dairy and egg industries or other abusive circumstances. They are an organization dedicated to advocating for animal and environmental rights. During this trip, Service Without Borders volunteers helped preparing the farm for the winter by cleaning the animals' space and aiding with all the required work at the farm.

Service Without Borders: Camp Sunshine - Maine

altbreak5Camp Sunshine, located in Casco, ME, supports children with life threatening illnesses and their families. Families with a child diagnosed with diseases such as cancer, kidney disease, lupus, solid organ transplants, and other life-threatening illness attend one of the week-long camps. The focus is on alleviating the strain that a life-threatening illness takes not only on the sick child but also on other family members. Families have an opportunity to rebuild their relationships together and meet other families facing similar challenges. During this trip, Service Without Borders participated at Camp Sunshine as group and one-on-one counselors as well as food service volunteers.

Service Without Borders: Iniciativa Comuniataria – Puerto Rico

altbreak6Iniciativa Comunitaria is a non-profit organization that strives to bring compassion and equality for individual suffering social exclusion. Most individuals are low-income and either have a taboo illness (AIDS/HIV), live in underdeveloped neighborhoods with much violence, or are homeless. During this trip, Service Without Borders prepared activities for women in a detox center and aided with the infrastructure of the facilities at Iniciativa Comunitaria.

Upcoming Alternative Breaks: 2016-2017

FIMRC- February break
Service Without Borders- February and April breaks
Habitat for Humanity- February break
Global Brigades- February break