Alternative Breaks at George Mason University

Alternative Breaks at George Mason University Alternative Break programs are collaboratively designed by students and staff to address social issues through education and service learning.

Founded over a decade ago, GMU Alternative Breaks is a program run through Social Action & Integrative learning at Mason. An alternative break is a trip where a group of college students engage in direct service, typically for a week. Each trip has a focus on a particular social issue with exploration and immersion in that issue beginning long before the trip itself. Students educate themselves and each other, then do hands-on work with relevant organizations. These experiences challenge them to think critically and compassionately—and to understand that there’s no such thing as “not my problem.” Upon return, participants are empowered to make more informed decisions and to take meaningful action that support community efforts. Our program sends our 5 spring break trips each spring, and one summer trip. We have a variety of ways to engage in our program, from becoming a participant on a trip, a trip leader, executive board member, or learning/staff partner.

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04/26/2021

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Congratulations to all 2021 Seeds of Change Awardees! The Seeds of Change event was designed to celebrate and honor the many individuals, programs and events that have contributed to making Mason a more civically engaged community.

View press release: https://sail.gmu.edu/articles/15835

04/15/2021

Attention Upper-Level Patriots!

Leadership through Community Engagement Learning Community Housing application re-opens today, April 15th, 2021! Become an active part of solutions through community engagement, and apply ASAP!

Applications due April 22nd! Apply via StarRez! To learn more, visit https://sail.gmu.edu/program/living-learning-community

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04/12/2021

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Checkout some great service opportunities in our area!
Visit our website at sail.gmu.edu/get-involved/find-service-opportunities for additional resources. (Link in Bio!)

#PatriotsServeMonday

Photos from Social Action and Integrative Learning's post
04/09/2021

Photos from Social Action and Integrative Learning's post

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04/08/2021

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During the 2021 Seeds of Change Recognition Week, as we take the time to honor and spotlight all Seeds of Change nominees and awardees. Winners will be announced on Friday, April 23rd. Tune in and follow us on social media platforms!

Event Link: https://sail.gmu.edu/events/11909

#SAILSpotlightThursday

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04/06/2021

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The Human Rights and Global Justice Initiative, part of the continuous campus-wide effort to position Mason as a leader in inclusion and justice, and aligned with President Washington’s Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence, will be hosting an event titled “Resistance and Resilience: Student Activism and Well-being”. Four amazing GMU student activists will share their powerful experience and stories.

To learn more, visit: https://ise.gmu.edu/hrgji/

#ComingUpatMasonTuesday

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03/29/2021

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Checkout some great service opportunities in our area!
Visit our website at sail.gmu.edu/get-involved/find-service-opportunities for additional resources. (Link in Bio!)

#PatriotsServeMonday

Timeline Photos
03/26/2021

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During the 2021 Seeds of Change Recognition Week, as we take the time to honor and spotlight all Seeds of Change nominees and awardees. Winners will be announced on Friday, April 23rd. Tune in and follow us on social media platforms

Event Link: https://sail.gmu.edu/events/11909

#ComingUpinSAILFriday

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03/18/2021

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Tune in to the 2021 Seeds of Change Recognition Week - April 19th - 23rd! Winners will be announced on Friday, April 23rd. Tune in and follow us on social media platforms

Event Link: https://sail.gmu.edu/events/11909

#SAILSpotlightThursday

Photos from Social Action and Integrative Learning's post
03/11/2021

Photos from Social Action and Integrative Learning's post

Timeline Photos
03/09/2021

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Alternative Break Applications DUE MARCH 15th! Apply now!

We are currently recruiting participants for our 2021 Alternative Break Experiences and hope you will share this with others or consider applying to participate.

Apply here today: https://sail.gmu.edu/alternative-break/applications-and-information (Link in Bio!)

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03/04/2021

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Color of Justice Alternative Break!
“I’m not asking that we be rewarded for our efforts by way of rehabilitation, self-improvement is reward enough. What I do ask however, is that you support us in this rehumanizing effort. You can start today by no longer showing support to those who would depict us in a way that overshadows the ambitions while highlighting the inaction of the contempt.” Anthony Wyatt
www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cRc7nxRD0o

Are you interested in digging deeper into issues around race and mass incarceration? Do you wonder why according to The Sentencing Project “African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites, and at least ten times the rate in five US states.” Join us for our SAIL Alternative Break around the Color of Justice: Racial Equity and Community Action happening the week of May 11th where we will dig deeper into these topics with partners such as the Graterford Think Tank and Northern Virginia Family Services. Sign up today! https://sail.gmu.edu/alternative-break/alternative-break-trips/racial-equity

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03/04/2021

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The Changing Landscape Alternative Break!

Community partner: ONE DC
“With COVID-19 forcing the country’s economy into a nosedive, working-class black families are especially vulnerable to evictions as they are laid off from their work. DC’s 95,000 low-wage workers, 37% of its workforce, will be critically impacted by the current crisis. Many, if not most, were unable to pay May’s rent. 47% of surveyed ONE DC members have reported a loss of income (including tips, shift hours, and contracts) Close to 70% of surveyed ONE DC members agreed that it is important for ONE DC to organize around the immediate cancellation of rent, mortgage and utility payments.”

One DC’s mission is to exercise political strength to create and preserve racial and economic equity in Shaw and the District. They seek to create a community in DC that is equitable for all. From early on, ONE DC's approach to community development addressed structural causes of poverty and injustice, an orientation that stemmed from deep analysis of race, power, and the economic, political, and social forces at work in Shaw and the District. As a result, ONE DC’s organizing work centers on popular education, community organizing, and alternative economic development projects.

Interested in learning more about One DC? Join us for our SAIL Alternative Break trip The Changing Landscape: An Exploration on Gentrification and Immigration Policy and learn more about what is happening the DMV area through partners such as OneDC and among others! Sign up today! https://sail.gmu.edu/alternative-break/alternative-break-trips/the-changing-landscape-an-exploration-on-gentrification-and-immigration-policy-must-be-a-residential-student

Photos from Social Action and Integrative Learning's post
02/26/2021

Photos from Social Action and Integrative Learning's post

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02/25/2021

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Help us and nominate a changemaker today for the 2021 Seeds of Change Recognition.We hope you will share this widely and encourage others to nominate or apply as well!

Nomination Form Link: https://forms.gle/79rtfS54s41ao5iTA

#SAILSpotlightThursday

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02/12/2021

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#MasonNation we are extending our Alternative Break applications until March 15th or until each of these virtual trip experiences is filled!

Engage in service-learning with host organizations on community-driven goals focused on a social justice topic. Apply today for one of our amazing experiences:

*The Changing Landscape: An Exploration on Gentrification and Immigration Policy
*It’s Not Them but Us - Turning the Tide on HIV/AIDS: Washington, DC
*The Color of Justice: Racial Equity and Community Action in the DMV
*Art for Social Change: Indigenous Culture in Guatemala

Visit our website for more info: sail.gmu.edu/alternative-break/applications-and-information (Link in Bio!)

#ComingUpinSAILFriday

Join us tomorrow February 4th at 3:30pm for our Alternative Break Information Session to learn more about this year's pr...
02/03/2021

Join us tomorrow February 4th at 3:30pm for our Alternative Break Information Session to learn more about this year's program! https://sail.gmu.edu/events/11655

Join us tomorrow February 4th at 3:30pm for our Alternative Break Information Session to learn more about this year's program! https://sail.gmu.edu/events/11655

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01/28/2021

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Alternative Break Spotlight: The Changing Landscape: An Exploration on Gentrification and Immigration Policy

Apply to Gentrification and Immigration Policy Alternative Breaks Experience! To be a part of a learning experience on how to create solutions that will hold longevity through social action and continuous community activism. As well as gain a better understanding of allyship, social action, and responsible service.

Apply by February 10th at go.gmu.edu/AlternativeBreak (Link in Bio!) Trip cost is $25 and will be held May 11th-14th, 2021!

Please contact SAIL at [email protected] with any questions or concerns!

@gmu_altbreaks

#SAILSpotlightThursday

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01/28/2021

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Alternative Break Spotlight: Color of Justice Racial Equity and Community Action in the DMV

As protests continue throughout the nation, there is a continued need to acknowledge the injustices Black people face. Join this Alternative Break Experience to examine the role of institutionalized racism on housing, food security, and the criminal justice system.

Apply by February 10th at go.gmu.edu/AlternativeBreak (Link in Bio!) Trip cost is $25 and will be held May 11th-14th, 2021!

Please contact SAIL at [email protected] with any questions or concerns!

@gmu_altbreaks

#SAILSpotlightThursday

Timeline Photos
01/28/2021

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Alternative Break Spotlight: It’s Not Them but Us: Turning the Tide of HIV/AIDS

During this trip, students will partner with community agencies to learn about the complexities associated with HIV, AIDS, and stigma in the metro Washington and DMV areas.

This Alternative Break experience will seek to understand how these social determinants of health create disparities that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how our local organizations are working to address these inequities.

Apply by February 10th at go.gmu.edu/AlternativeBreak (Link in bio!) Trip cost is $25 and will be held May 11th-14th, 2021!

@gmu_altbreaks

#SAILSpotlightThursday

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01/28/2021

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Alternative Break Spotlight: Art for Social Change

The Art for Social Change experience will center several prominent social issues and movements as educational examples of how change agents in these movements utilize their creativity to support their work. Some of these topics will include the dynamics of social justice movements, environmental justice, Indigenous rights in Guatemala, and LGBTQIA+ rights.

Apply by February 10th at go.gmu.edu/AlternativeBreak (Link in Bio!). Trip cost is $25 and will be held May 11th-14th, 2021!

@gmu_altbreaks

#SAILSpotlightThursday

Join our information session tomorrow 1/26 at 3pm to learn more! Visit https://sail.gmu.edu/events for log-in informatio...
01/25/2021

Join our information session tomorrow 1/26 at 3pm to learn more!

Visit https://sail.gmu.edu/events for log-in information!

Are you passionate about social change? Interested in meeting other students and organizations invested in social change? Apply to participate in our Alternative Break experiences May 11-14th!

We are hosting Information sessions tomorrow 1/26 at 3pm and 2/4 at 3:30pm! Hear from our current trip leaders and learn more about what is involved in these experiences! Visit this page to find the zoom log-in information! https://sail.gmu.edu/events

Through exploration and immersion into the social issue long before the trip starts, students are able to interrogate the root causes of social issues in a way that allows them to engage compassionately and think critically.

Timeline Photos
01/21/2021

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Attention Upper-Level Patriots!

Join the Leadership through Community Engagement Learning Community & become an active part of solutions through community engagement.

Applications due Feb 2nd! Apply via StarRez!

Timeline Photos
01/15/2021

Timeline Photos

Attention Upper-Level Patriots!

Join the Leadership through Community Engagement Learning Community & become an active part of solutions through community engagement.

Applications due Feb 2nd! Apply via StarRez!

Timeline Photos
01/14/2021

Timeline Photos

Join us January 26th at 3pm OR February 4th from 3:30pm-4:30pm
to learn more about this year's program!

Visit https://sail.gmu.edu/events
for more information

Alternative Breaks should be about moving from charity to justice. Read through these wise words from our friends at Bre...
01/13/2021

Alternative Breaks should be about moving from charity to justice. Read through these wise words from our friends at Break Away!

“How do we ensure the work of alternative breaks is about liberation rather than putting a bandaid on injustice?”

To learn more about the SAIL Alternative Break program, please visit our website: https://sail.gmu.edu/alternative.../alternative-break-trips (Applications due February 10th!)

How do we ensure the work of alternative breaks is about liberation rather than putting a bandaid on injustice?

Today we are talking about the three learning components of a quality alternative break: education, orientation, and training (EOT).

Alternative breaks are more than just what happens during the break. So much of the experience happens before you go out on-site or before you engage with community partners.

The learning components are meant to help your program center the community and community partners, rather than just student leadership development and volunteerism.

Education is topic-specific.

We need to EDUCATE ourselves about the trip topic and related social injustices. To engage fully with the topic, it is of critical importance to understand the underlying or root causes, including historical and political factors.

Orientation is site-specific.

We need to ORIENT ourselves to the site(s) and community we’re working with. We need to know more about the organization: its history, leadership, current engagement, stances they take, how they do work, etc. We also want to learn everything that we can about the community the organization serves.

Orientation includes examining our prior associations and frames of reference that influence or color our perspectives of the community we’ll be working with.

Training is skill-specific.

We need TRAINING on the skills, both hard and soft, to show up ready to engage with the community and project. Hard skills are the concrete, measurable abilities most often related to performing certain tasks. Soft skills, sometimes referred to as people skills, help us connect with the community in respectful and culturally appropriate ways.

But how can you bring EOT in your everyday life when you aren't on an alternative break? In what ways are you educating yourself to challenge your own perceptions of the world, rather than waiting for an interaction or story to disrupt them?

Alternative Breaks at George Mason University's cover photo
01/05/2021

Alternative Breaks at George Mason University's cover photo

The application is now open! We have 4 incredible trips happening this summer May 11-14th! Learn more and apply today! h...
12/14/2020

The application is now open! We have 4 incredible trips happening this summer May 11-14th! Learn more and apply today! https://sail.gmu.edu

Thank you Jo-Vivian Yu for your thoughtful reflection and wise words! Love this!

"By my junior year, I had participated in various opportunities at Mason but I had not yet discovered Alternative Breaks. I wasn’t able to study abroad with my major so this was my best opportunity to leave the state for a bit.

I chose the "Unlocking the dream: Food Justice and Community Activism" trip to Atlanta based on my interest in food deserts and equitable accessibility to food; I also wanted to see what community activism really looked like. During the week I spent in the heart of Georgia, I discovered all of these things and this trip left me wanting to learn more when I got back.

Atlanta is a big city with many of those who are homeless who don't have reliable access to food. From the experience, I learned about the various resources and organizations that are committed to improving food equity in that area. During this trip, we created community gardens to enable community members to provide for themselves and others and to promote healthy living.

I believe knowledge is power. Especially during a time like now, it feels impossible to stand together as a community to continue being involved with social action and justice while we’re social distancing and quarantining. However, we can continue to be involved by reading and becoming more informed, discovering and researching groups with similar interests, and spreading knowledge. There are so many different outlets and organizations that are also trying to bring social justice into the community."

Thank you Jo-Vivian Y. for sharing your Alternative Break experience with #masonnation. If you are interested in taking part of Spring 2021 Alternative Breaks, go to 💻 go.gmu.edu/apply-alt-break or follow @SailAtMason on Instagram for updates on the 🗓️ February 4th Alternative Breaks info session!

Alternative Breaks at George Mason University George Mason University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Mason Global Education Office

We love seeing our Alternative Break Trip Leaders spotlighted through Mason! See below for more information about Erin's...
12/07/2020

We love seeing our Alternative Break Trip Leaders spotlighted through Mason! See below for more information about Erin's experience!

Visit our website for more information: https://alternativebreak.gmu.edu

“I chose the Food Justice and Community Activism alternative break experience because food justice is important to me. It affects every community in one way or another, but often slips under the radar because it isn’t always a visible problem.

Through this experience, I learned about the different ways communities address food security inequities head-on while simultaneously overcoming historic roots of the issue. I also discovered ways to apply similar interventions to other communities.

Getting involved with social action in any community might seem daunting at first, but the truth is it’s actually pretty simple. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of Googling! At Mason in particular, there are many opportunities available to students through the Social Action and Integrative Learning (SAIL) office; these include alternative breaks, social justice-oriented workshops, and various service opportunities. No matter how you do it, I encourage you to get involved in a meaningful way that ultimately benefits the community surrounding you!”

Thank you Erin for sharing your Alternative Break experience with us. If you are interested in taking part of Spring 2021 Alternative Breaks, go to 💻 go.gmu.edu/apply-alt-break or follow Social Action and Integrative Learning for updates on the 🗓️ February 4th Alternative Breaks info session!

Alternative Breaks at George Mason University George Mason University College of Humanities and Social Sciences George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services Mason Global Education Office George Mason U Honors College

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