Students from Alternative Spring Break in Dominican Republic

Students working on a project in Dominican Republic, for Alternative Spring Break 2016.

Are you ready for something different?

Something incredible? The experience of a lifetime? Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is an extraordinary service-learning initiative which connects students to national and international partners, enabling them to engage in meaningful community service and critical reflection.

What is Alternative Spring Break?

ASB is an immersive year-long program that culminates with a week of social engagement and service-learning with a partner organization during reading week in February. For the 2016/2017 program, there are six different trips, each focusing on serving local communities focused on specific themes, including access to education, conservation, and access to clean water.

The reading week experience is preceded by months of preparation, which includes listening to guest speaker seminars, watching fascinating documentaries about a specific topic or theme, participating in various fundraising efforts for the trips, and team-building exercises.

Past projects have included:

  • helping with conservation and environmental monitoring efforts in Canada’s national parks
  • constructing latrines at an elementary school to help improve sanitation
  • assisting in building a vocational training centre that focused on teaching income-generating skills
  • assembling eco-bricks to reduce waste in the community and to create a structure for school buildings

Read stories from students who have previously taken part in the ASB program.

Alternative Spring Break Team 2016 Ecuador

Be part of the impact with Alternative Spring Break.

A chance to reflect and relate your experience to your academics

Throughout the program you’ll be encouraged to engage in personal reflection and make connections to your academic studies in order to enrich your learning experience, grow civic responsibility and strengthen communities. A significant element of Alternative Spring Break is that the groups are selected to ensure that there is representation from all academic faculties. This fosters interactions between students that would not normally engage in academic discussions. It can result in divergent thoughts and more complex and holistic reflection on the issues. Ultimately it pushes students to think more critically and to create an interdisciplinary perspective. Students are encouraged to use academic models of research, critical thinking and reflection throughout ASB.

Reciprocal Learning

The outcomes of the experience are not only focused on the students. It is equally important that our partner organization and the local communities benefit from the experience. The relationship is always reciprocal in nature, where both the students and the organization are being positively impacted. The learning that occurs is a result of the service experience, therefore it is important that the service addresses an actual need identified by the partner organization, so that both those who provide and receive the service learn from the experience.

Sources of Complimentary Funding

The Alternative Spring Break Program provides several opportunities for students to offset their program costs (which includes flights, accommodations, and food*). Based on statistics from last year’s program, participants received approximately $765 in funding support (from the CUSA Conference and Discretionary Fund, faculty contributions, and fundraisers organized by the Student Experience Office). Please note this figure is an average, as some students received slightly more or less than this amount. There are also several opportunities for individual fundraising to allow for a greater amount of the program costs to be subsidized. For more information please contact the program coordinator, Taylor Monk (Taylor.Monk@carleton.ca).

*Students may be responsible for some meals (depending on their destination and arrangements that have been made).


Interested in applying? Visit our applications page to view the application details and make note of any important dates and deadlines. Visit our FAQ for more information on the program.