Mason Family Flash

Alternative Break: Learning by engaging in real-world issues

Alternative Spring BreakLast week, 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 issues of discrimination, housing, hunger and poverty. These trips provided the opportunity for students to learn about social issues they are passionate about and allowed students to develop new perspectives that inspire them to be active and engaged citizens in their communities.

This year, Mason sent students on five 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 teaching English, dental hygiene, as well as environmental awareness.
  • Literacy, Education and Equality (Jamaica): Students traveled to Jamaica and supported teachers by assisting with school maintenance and beautification projects as well as they spent time in the classroom and on the playground with the children.
  • 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. 
  • Community Activism/Homelessness (Camden, NJ): Students traveled to Camden and worked with grassroots organizations to develop their understanding about how environmental racism has manifested itself into communities such as Camden, NJ. Through education, service, and reflection, students expanded their knowledge surrounding environmental racism 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)