How will I be traveling throughout an Alternative Break?
On weekend and Friday breaks, all driving will be completed by the site leaders. On domestic weeklong breaks, the groups travel options will vary based on location. Some breaks may drive the vans to and from service every day while others may take public transportation. If a student is approved to drive they may be asked to drive during the break. All public transportation costs will be covered by the Alternative Breaks program.
Are any immunizations typically needed beforehand?
For most domestic sites students will not need immunizations. Immunizations may be required for international breaks, though students will be informed prior to application. Different countries require different sets of immunizations, and a list will be presented to you upon signing up for an International Alternative Break. We recommend that students utilize the CMU Travel Office for immunizations.
Students may be asked by the community partner to fill out background check forms or sign waivers for domestic sites. These waivers and background checks are not a requirement of Central Michigan University or the Alternative Breaks program. Students should consult a guardian and read them carefully prior to signing. Students who do not wish to sign paperwork from community partners may not be permitted to attend the experience. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Alternative Breaks advisor.
What skills are needed?
The skills needed will be dependent upon what break students sign-up for. When signing up for Housing Inequality, students can expect more significant physical labor tasks. When signing up for a break that deals more with people, such as Supporting Elementary Education or Youth Development, you can expect there to be more personal interactions and less physical labor. We do not require volunteers to have certain skills.
If specific skills are needed on a volunteer site, students will receive the proper training. This training will come either before the students leave for service by their Site Leaders, or on site by the community partner.
What are the educational values learned from the AB program?
The Alternative Breaks program centers 9 Quality Components, one of which is Education. Through the component of education, the program establishes and achieves “educational objectives to give participants a sense of context and understanding of both the region in which they will be working and of the problems they will be addressing during the break.”
How can I become a site leader?
After students have had the experience of being a participant on a weeklong break, students are encouraged to become a site leader. Applications will be made available following Alternative Winter Break, and Site Leaders should e-mail these out. Applications can also be found on the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center Engage Portal.
In order to Site Lead, students are required to attend Site Leader Retreat in the Fall.
How can I become a board member?
There are no prerequisites to becoming a board member, but preference will be given to those who have been on at least one prior Alternative Break (Friday, weekend, or weeklong). Applications will be available at the same time Site Leader applications become available, after Winter Break. Stop by the Volunteer Center anytime, Monday-Friday from 9a.m. – 5p.m. Students can also reach out to the Alternative Breaks Student Coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I am 21; can I drink during my Alternative Break?
No. Alternative Breaks is a drug and alcohol free program to ensure cohesiveness in your group and to portray good images in the communities we are working with, as well as to remain a positive role model for your own community and CMU. Additionally, as in the case of many of our sites, the people we work with may have been impacted by drug and alcohol abuse and could potentially feel uncomfortable by our use.
What happens if I do drink or do drugs on my Alternative Break?
Alternative Breaks has a drug and alcohol free policy. This policy includes vaping. If you are found under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or have either of these on you, you will be sent home at your own expense. Upon return to campus you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for a meeting.
What should I pack?
Please pack only what you will need for your break. Site leaders will send out packing lists to their participants prior to your departure date. As the students will be in two minivans, it is important that students pack only the necessities. Try to pack as light as you can!
What if something goes wrong?
It will be okay. The group Site Leaders are trained to handle a variety of situations. Although we can’t assure they will know what to do in every possible scenario, we can assure you that they know who to call and the next steps to take in the case of an emergency. We also have an Alternative Breaks advisor that is a CMU administrator who provides advice and direction as needed. She is on-call during all breaks, and can facilitate steps to take in unforeseen circumstances
You can feel free to contact her at: