Center for Community Engagement prepares for another year of Alternative Breaks

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Suffolk University’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) offers alternative domestic spring breaks and international winter break trips, for all students. Every trip grants students with a contrasting perspective to the Boston setting Suffolk students are immersed in every day.  

The CCE established the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) and Alternative Winter Break (AWB) programs for students to experience communities and immerse themselves in other cultures while participating in community service in the area. The programs started approximately 10 years ago, with only 12 students attending. Last spring over 100 students participated.

These programs are one of a kind at Suffolk, as it blends community service with traveling. The 12-day long AWB trips to Myanmar and Cambodia involve students in a Habitat for Humanity project where they build homes for people in need. 

“For students who are interested in potentially getting involved that may read the article, don’t hesitate to let us know that you’re interested in anything related to volunteering,” said Dennis Harkins, assistant director of the CCE.

Students will travel to various cities throughout the U.S. on the ASB trip; this year they’ll be heading to Gulfport and Meridian, Mississippi, South Bend, Indiana and Clarkesville, Georgia. The fifth location for this trip has yet to be determined. They will travel to all of these locations for a cumulative time of six days.

This trip provides students with an opportunity to encounter issues in the U.S. such as affordable housing, racial injustice and LGBTQ+ rights. Many of the towns students will visit have been involved in some sort of political or social protests that students can learn about. 

“We have one trip going to D.C to work with organizations on LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy and then one trip also going to the D.C. and Baltimore area for racial justice.”  said Harkins. 

The ASB and AWB trips are open to all undergraduate and graduate students. The requirement for the domestic spring break trip is to attend nine weekly meetings prior to the trip. For the international winter break trip, students must be enrolled in the GVT 387-Conflict and Development in Asia course for the spring semester that follows the trip. 

“If you can fit the four credits into your schedule you don’t have to be a government major or international relations or anything like that, we’ve had a wide variety of academic interests and majors,” said Harkins.

Harkins also spoke on how because of the course requirement, it is a common misconception that certain majors can not participate, which is not the case. 

The ASB trips around the U.S. costs $100, while the AWB trips to Myanmar and Cambodia are  $2500. 

“[The price] includes your round trip airfare, all of your meals, your hotel accommodations and transportation in the country, so really everything,” said Harkins.

He explained that there are many scholarship opportunities for both ASB and AWB to make the trips more affordable to students. AWB has need-based financial aid available as well, similar to the school’s financial aid system.

“[We are also working on a trip] that is connected to a social change course in the institute for public service,” said Harkins. 

This trip would go to Denver and focus on habitats for less fortunate communities. While a trip to this location isn’t happening this year, it could be the destination of the spring break trip next year. 

For more information on alternative break options visit, email [email protected] or visit the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) in room 824 of the Sawyer building.