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Alternative Breaks: Diversity, Service, and Reflection

Q: What are alternative breaks?

A: Alternative programs are a part of the PEACE Volunteer Center that is dedicated to immersing students in a variety of cultures and its’ social issues. The program provides an opportunity for direct service combined with participant education along with reflection.

The mission of the PEACE Alternative Breaks Program is to increase volunteerism and an individual’s value of service as they work towards becoming active citizens. For each academic year, the alternative breaks committee plans four weekend breaks, two spring break trips, a May domestic trip, and one international break.


Q: How was my (Michelle’s) experience on an alternative break?

A: During the last weekend of February, I attended a weekend alternative break in Jacksonville, FL that focused on the issue of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. From the first day, I had been already surrounded by friendly site leaders, participants, and hosts who provided us a place to stay for the weekend.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, we began direct service as half the group went to paint one of Angelwood’s facilities, and the other half built a ramp for a house belonging to one of the workers of the same company. My experience became meaningful after having the time spent talking to the nice woman whom we were building the ramp for. She told me inspiring stories which grew my love for helping others, and I also left with new knowledge of woodworking tools. The best thing was being in a friendly neighborhood with dogs because it made me feel happier that day.

After seven hours of hard work and sweat, we had free time which we spent walking on the beach to see a Reggae music festival … which was AWESOME! We ended the night with a group reflection, and from that I felt more connected to the other participants and myself in relation to my passion for service.

On Sunday, the direct service was sorting clothes for the place that hosted us for the weekend, and they provided us FREE DONUTS and strawberries which was a BONUS! The trip ended with an amazing lunch at a restaurant before we spent a few hours at the beach which was cold but fun! Overall, I was extremely happy to be a participant, and I realized how privileged I was in my life which gives me a greater meaning to serve.


Q: Why should you do an alternative break?

A: All the PEACE Alternative Break Programs emphasize the eight components of a quality break experience: strong direct service, orientation, education, training, reflection, reorientation, diversity, and are alcohol and drug free.

  • To BUILD new relationships
  • To educate yourself on DIVERSE social issues in the world
  • For the adventurous, unique TRAVELS
  • And for the love of SERVICE


Q: How can I get involved with an alternative break?

A: Look out for applications during the Fall and Spring semesters on the PEACE Volunteer Center’s Orgsync portal.

Alternative Breaks Committee Meetings – Wednesdays @ 5PM (VC 212)

For MORE information:

PEACE Volunteer Center 

Vaughn Center, Room 206
Email: alternativebreaks@ut.edu

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