Alternative Breaks

photo of JHU student interviewing Baltimore citizen during alternative breaks

The Habitat for Humanity Alternative Breaks Trip Application Deadline is Tuesday, February 27.

The Alternative Breaks program is designed to give Hopkins students the opportunity to connect with Baltimore in a unique and meaningful way. Alternative Breaks are week-long immersive programs that combine classroom instruction, direct service with community organizations, and various educational sessions (e.g. guest speaker discussions, documentary screenings, or other meaningful experiences). We offer three two-credit Alternative Break Intersession trips that focus on a particular social justice issue in the context of Baltimore:

  • HIV and AIDS
  • Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Urban Education

During each trip, participants will go on site visits with local community partners, tour Baltimore, and end every day with interactive group reflection sessions. In the evenings, social activities are offered so that participants from the three concurrent programs can meet each other, share experiences, and have fun! Continue reading below to learn more about our Alternative Breaks trips and how to get involved.

picture of Karen Chen 2018 Alt BreaksOverall, this alternative break was extremely educational. I gained a broader view of educational issues and a more nuanced understanding of the ways that factors such as poverty, cultural differences, and the influence of charter schools affect student outcomes. Because of this class, I hope to approach community engagement and service in a more thoughtful way as I continue to volunteer in Hopkins student groups, especially in situations where I work directly with children.

-Karen Chen ’20

Get Involved

We realize that your college life consists of studying, studying, and more studying. Naturally, you need some down time to catch up on sleep, life, and relaxation. However, why not consider spending some of your break meeting some new friends in a unique, rewarding, and meaningful way? Rather than being stressful, Alternative Breaks are designed to be relaxing and fun. This is also an affordable option! Lodging, transportation, and meals are included in the program fee for each trip and substantial need-based financial aid is available.

There are a couple of different ways to become involved in Alternative Breaks:

Become a Participant

Become a Trip Leader

Have questions? View the frequently asked questions or contact Caroline Ouwerkerk, Assistant Director.

Alternative Breaks Trips

These trips take place during the last week of Intersession, typically the end of January. Students will earn two credits for completing the week-long programs, which are taught by a faculty, staff, or learning partner instructors. The trips are supported by two student leaders and the Center for Social Concern staff. Each trip has twelve student participants, two trip leaders, and an instructor. Continue reading about each trip below.

Intersession Trips: January 20-26, 2018 (earn 2 credits)

Trip fee: $175 (includes food for the week, lodging during the program, and all program activities)

A significant amount of need-based financial aid is available, and applying for financial aid will have no bearing on your application to the program. Students interested in financial aid should indicate it on their applications.

HIV and AIDS in Baltimore

The HIV/AIDS program explores Baltimore’s healthcare infrastructure and the challenges facing diagnosed and vulnerable Baltimoreans. Students will participate in classroom sessions as well as service learning projects in greater Baltimore with local agencies. Students will earn two credits for completing this trip.

Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Have you been gripped by the plight of displaced Syrians? Concerned about unaccompanied refugee minors from Central America? Have your own migration experience? This alternative break will focus on refugees, immigrants, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrant populations. Particular focus given to refugee communities in the United States, especially Baltimore. We will mix classroom instruction about the basics of the modern refugee regime with hands-on experiences at various local organizations that serve refugee populations. The experience also includes a “public policy day” in Washington, D.C., where we will meet with national refugee and immigrant organizations and congressional offices. Students will earn two credits for completing this trip.

Urban Education

The Urban Education program explores Baltimore’s education infrastructure and the challenges of educating young Baltimoreans. Students will participate in classroom sessions as well as service learning projects in greater Baltimore with local agencies. The experience also includes a policy field trip to D.C. to learn how to engage these issues from a national perspective. This course is unique because it gives students exposure to local, national and international educational practices and theories. Each student will be able to add their prior knowledge to the course during course discussions and reflections. Scholars will also be able to visit some unique Baltimore City schools to gain firsthand experience and knowledge of urban education in Baltimore. Furthermore, there will be a panel of educators that will come in to speak. Read about Dr. Moffitt below who is one of the panelists.

Dr. Kimberly R. Moffitt is associate professor of American Studies and affiliate assistant professor in the Departments of African Studies and Language, Literacy and Culture Ph.D. program. Dr. Moffitt’s research focuses on mediated representations of marginalized groups as well as the politicized nature of Black hair and the body. She has published three co-edited volumes. She extends her research interests into the community by offering workshops on Black hair and body politics as it relates to bullying among middle school girls. Dr. Moffitt often writes op-ed articles for the Baltimore Sun and is a frequent guest on local public radio programs. She is a founding parent and board member of Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys Charter School, a 4th-12th college preparatory school.

By the end of this course, all students should feel that their voices were heard while also gaining a deeper understanding of the urban educational systems. Students will earn two credits for completing this trip.

Important Dates

Below is a list of important dates for Alternative Breaks.

mid-OctoberIntersession trip leader and program participant applications open
NovemberAccepting Intersession program participant applications on a rolling basis as space is available
NovemberStudents notified: accept/decline/waitlist
Tuesday, November 28, 2017Payment and paperwork due to the Center for Social Concern
Week of Dec. 4 Intersession program kick-off
Wednesday, December 6, 2017Online course registration for students
Saturday, January 20, 2018Program begins
Friday, January 26, 2018Program ends

Spring Break Trip: March 18-24, 2018

The Center for Social Concern will not be offering Baltimore-based Alternative Spring Breaks this year, but we will be supporting the Habitat for Humanity at JHU-organized Alternative Break to Huntingdon, West Virginia.

Trip fee: $275. All fees include activities, lodging, and food for the week.

A significant amount of need-based financial aid is available, and applying for financial aid will have no bearing on your application to the program. Students interested in financial aid should indicate it on their applications.

Habitat for Humanity

The Habitat for Humanity Alternative Break focuses on solving the challenge of affordable housing for those in need. During the trip, students will participate in the process of building a house, including nailing walls, installing roofs, painting, and securing the foundation. No prior experience is necessary as on-site mentors will guide students throughout the process.

The house that we build will not only serve as a shelter for a future family, but also become a foundation for the family’s life. This foundation will allow the homeowners to seek better education and better jobs for their family without worrying about where to sleep at night.

While bonding with each other during this fun and meaningful alternative break, students also have the opportunity to explore Huntington, WV.

Deadline to apply is February 27, 2018 at noon. Read more about how to become a participant in the next tab over and apply today!

Become a Participant

Application Process and Procedures

More information coming soon.