Mason Family Flash

A break on, not off: Alternative breaks at Mason

Two weeks ago, Mason students, in partnership with various community organizations, participated in several exciting alternative break trips designed by students, staff and community partners to address social issues through meaningful community service and education.

Each of Mason’s trips challenged students to explore and address various social concerns including, discrimination, racism, poverty, mass incarceration, etc. These trips provided the opportunity for students to learn about various social concerns they are passionate about and allowed students to develop new perspectives that inspire them to be active and engaged in their communities.

This year, Mason sent students on four different domestic and international alternative spring break trips addressing the following community issues:

  • Indigenous Culture, Education and Equity (Guatemala): Students traveled to Xecanchovax, a rural indigenous community. They provided assistance in a local elementary school that offers education through the sixth grade with projects that include facilitating workshops around human rights and public health, school beautification, and environmental and cultural awareness.
  • Ecosystem Restoration (Stuart, Florida): Students worked with the community to return land to its pre-development state. Projects included planting native trees and removing invasive plants, oyster reef building, beach cleanup and park maintenance.
  • It’s not them but us – Turning the tide on HIV/AIDS (Washington, D.C.): Students provided meaningful service right in our own backyard in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. They learned from organizations that educate, test and serve individuals with acute AIDS-related illness. Service included direct outreach to support individuals in at-risk communities, supporting nonprofit fundraising efforts and friendly visits with individuals in health care facilities.
  • The Color of Justice: Mass Incarceration & Environmental Justice (Camden, NJ): Students traveled to Camden and worked with grassroots organizations to develop their understanding about how environmental racism and mass incarceration has manifested itself into communities such as Camden, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. Through education, service, and reflection, students expanded their knowledge surrounding environmental racism and the prison industrial complex and how it has impacted communities.

If your student is interested in learning more about social issues, impacting change and meeting new people, encourage them to participate in a future alternative break! For more information, visit

 Jayson Padilla
Operations Manager
Social Action & Integrative Learning (SAIL) 

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