Looking for a way to connect your Fall Break to service in your field of interest? IUPUI’s Alternative Break program gives students the chance to participate in a service-learning experience with community organizations.
For 2022, the Alternative Fall Break trip lasts from October 14 through October 18. This year’s program is titled The Great Derangement: Humans, Nature, and Future. The project focuses on how environmental sustainability and justice interact with social and economic development.
“With the rapid increase in population, urbanization, and global warming, the challenges cities face are also on the rise as limited resources must be shared with more people,” says Alternative Breaks Coordinator Medha Kulkarni. “This trip will focus on exploring several aspects of environmental sustainability, recycling, and factors impacting ecological barriers and justice on a local, state, and federal level.”
- Dates: October 14–18
- Cost: $30
- Applications due: Monday, September 19 by 11:59 p.m.
- Location: Urban Midwest setting outside Indiana
Details of the program’s exact location will be revealed during the first of two mandatory trip meetings on September 30 and October 7. You can learn more about the program and apply to attend at this link. The program will run another option in the spring during Spring Break.
Alternative breaks provide a particularly unique opportunity for O’Neill students, who often fill sustainability and social justice spaces.
As a student, O’Neill alum Amber Greaney (BSPA’20, MPA’21) traveled to Kentucky and Tennessee for a service project about land management and ecotourism. During her trip, the group helped build a section of the Cumberland Trail. Amber shared more from her experience and why she chose to participate:
Why did you choose to participate in an alternative break?
“I chose to participate in an alternative break program because it offered the opportunity to spend my break working on an environmental project that I was passionate about while connecting with a new group of people from all around the world to create positive sustainable change.”
What did you do as part of the program?
“Leading up to the trip our group learned how trails serve as important markers to communities that preserve historical events, connect travelers, and offer homes to flora and fauna. However, they also have the potential for vital ecosystems to become degraded and polluted with the introduction of human activity along trail corridors. Our group explored the positive and negative impacts brought about by the introduction of trails along a community.
“We stayed at Head of the Sequatchie lodge in the middle of the Cumberland Trail. Before the sun was up, we would hike a few miles into the forest before we reached the end of the trail. At that point, we would spend the days clearing brush and leveling the terrain to create the next section of the Cumberland Trail. It was incredibly rewarding taking the hike back and realizing just how much we were able to accomplish together. We spent the evenings reflecting and growing our friendships with one another, sitting outside at night memorized by the number of stars we could see with no light pollution for miles.”
How did it connect to your major here at O’Neill?
“The alternative break added to what I was learning in my major. I completed a service-learning experience that was centered around social and environmental issues. I took what I learned in my Natural Resources and Sustainability classes—in addition to my study abroad trip to Costa Rica— and used it in discussions to deepen the group’s collective understanding of what we were working on and how it connected to local and global issues.”
How did your trip connect to your current career?
“The trip taught me how to collaborate with people from all different backgrounds which is critical in almost any professional setting. It also gave me real-world experience with how important green spaces are for people and ecosystems.”
Would you recommend the alternative spring/fall break to other students and, if so, why?
“I cannot recommend the alternative break trips enough! This experience is transformative because you are put in a group with diverse strangers and tasked with incredibly hard work, yet the act of making the world a better place together makes you leave with a group of close friends that you bonded with in such a unique way.”