Join an Alternative Break as a Learning Partner

Branch Out alternative breaks offers student-led experiences in which students travel locally, across the US, and around the globe in small groups to work in partnership with host organizations on community-driven service and social justice projects. International alternative break teams meet for eight weeks before the trip for social issue-based education, orientation, and training, and bring their lessons back to campus after travel to continue working for social change locally. Through alternative breaks, students work for social justice and develop as active citizens.

Learning partners are faculty or staff members who join an alternative break team to offer their perspective and experience on the social issues addressed, contribute unique skills, and learn alongside students and site leaders. Learning partners are required for our alternative breaks that travel to countries on the US State Department's travel warning list.

2016-17 Opportunities

Curriculum Development and Teacher Training in Rural Education
Community Partner: Sonje Ayiti, Cap Haitien and Cima, Haiti
Site leaders: Jose Acuna and Jiajia Chen
Trip dates: Winter break, January 2017, seven to 10 days; dates to be finalized this Fall
Project plan: Building on the team's work in 2015, the group will conduct workshops with the teachers of the Cima school on curriculum development and student learning strategies. As a result, teachers will have new ideas and strategies to help more effectively teach primary school children. The team may also supply some physical resources to enhance teaching and learning (e.g. manipulatives). Students involved on the trip will share information about what they have learned about Haitian life and the school system with others and to provide information to build upon for future Haiti Compact Trips.

Environmental Sustainability and Development in Bridging the HIV/AIDs Generation Gap in Rural Africa
Community partner: Nyumbani Village, Kitui, Kenya
Site Leaders: Maimuna Sidibay and Aoife Leogue
Trip dates: Winter break, January 2017, seven to 15 days; dates to be finalized this Fall

Project planWe plan, through our continued Issue Education Initiative that has been approved by the village, to speak to classes about opportunities after they leave village. We will hold a week-long information session and workshops to help students with college applications. We will also be working closely with the environmental permaculture aspect of the Village to learn more deeply about sustainable infrastructure. We will explore a side project focusing on women's health issues at the village. We will also continue to provide some manual labor to help contribute to the sustainability infrastructure of the village.


Learning partners participate fully in alternative breaks, attending eight pre-trip meetings with student participants, being fully engaged during the trip, and taking part in reorientation and post-trip action back on campus. Learning partners also serve as main contacts in case of emergency.

Please note that alternative breaks are committed to simple living principles; housing conditions are simple and the work can be very demanding, physically, emotionally, and mentally. They also offer deeply meaningful opportunities for participants to engage in cross-cultural exchange while working for justice alongside community members and leaders.

We encourage applications particularly from staff and faculty who are interested in supporting student leadership, have expertise in the social issue or geographical area of the alternative break, and can apply their life experience (including experience with cross-cultural work or travel) to enhance the team's work.

It is the responsibility of the learning partner to make arrangements to miss work for this travel; some offices may consider it work time (which the OCE would advocate) while others will consider it vacation or community service time. Please consult your supervisor for guidance. 


Previous learning partners have enjoyed the experience of working closely with students outside of a classroom setting, sharing their experiences to enrich projects, and learning in-depth about a social issue in another community. Travel costs are covered by the Office of Community Engagement. The costs of passports, visas, and immunizations are the responsibility of the learning partner.

To Apply

Complete the application by July 1, 2016. Interviews (with the director of the Office of Community Engagement or Branch Out Site Coordinators and the student site leaders) will take place by phone or in person during the month of July. Contact [[mcporter, Melody Porter]] for more information.