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Active Citizen Continuum

Alternative Breaks serve two purposes: getting needed work done around social issues and changing the volunteer's perspective of their place in society. 

The Active Citizen Continuum is the driving force behind Alternative Breaks. As illustrated with this developmental model, Alternative Breaks can become much more than memorable volunteer trips. They can be a powerful catalyst, transforming a participant's worldview and developing an understanding of lifelong active citizenship. 


Not concerned with their role in social problems


Well-intentioned, but not well-educated about social issues

Conscientious Citizen

Concerned with discovering root causes; asks why?

Active Citizen

Community becomes a priority in values and life choices

Pre-Break Transformation

Prepare students for on-site experience and provide initial education about site-specific social issues.

  • Education, orientation, and training
  • Pre-break direct service
  • Preflection: goals and expectations Icebreakers and group building

On-Break Transformation

Encourage participants to look critically at the root causes of social issues and challenge them to evaluate the role they have in the community.

  • Strong direct service
  • Ongoing education
  • Community involvement
  • Daily reflection tied to direct service and social issue education

Post-Break Transformation

Help participants find avenues for continued community involvement and support their efforts to take action locally.

  • Organize or join small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens Continued education
  • Reflection about reorientation process
  • Post-break direct service, advocacy, and philanthropy
  • Life choices that benefit the community

Source: Break Away