Who We Are

“You’ve got to go there to know there.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Our Mission

To provide quality and fulfilling alternative breaks that mutually benefit community partners and student participants through the education of a social issue, service work requested by the host site, and student facilitated reflection.

Through the Center for Community Outreach and the national service organization Break Away, the University of Kentucky Alternative Service Breaks program connects students with service projects in communities beyond the borders of Lexington and Kentucky. We aim to provide service experiences that are educational and cultural, and to promote active citizenship among UK students, faculty, and staff.

Our Vision

A campus of socially aware student citizens seeking to make a positive impact in the global community.

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is that quality community service, particularly service immersions like Alternative Service Breaks, must involve:

  1. Strong direct service to address unmet community needs
  2. Broad education and deep reflection about social issues facing communities
  3. Exposure to the character and culture of the diverse communities in which we serve

Our approach is deeply rooted in the Break Away organization’s “Active Citizen Continuum” and “Eight Components Of A Quality Break Program,” which include:

  1. Strong Direct Service
  2. Alcohol and Other Drug-Free
  3. Diversity
  4. Orientation
  5. Education
  6. Training
  7. Reflection
  8. Reorientation

Our History

In 2008, the University of Kentucky Alternative Service Breaks program was developed as a part of the national movement to involve college students in community-based service projects and to give students opportunities to learn about the complex issues faced by members of diverse communities. As former President George W. Bush said at that time, “From now on in America, any definition of a successful life must include serving others.”

The creation of “alternative breaks” was one response to increasing calls from world leaders encouraging young people to get involved and take action in their communities. They were intended to immerse students in new communities throughout the U.S. and abroad, as well as people whose experiences may be different from their own.  According to Break Away, the national alternative breaks clearinghouse, “Being completely immersed into diverse environments enables participants to experience, discuss, and understand social issues in a significant way. The intensity of the experience increases the likelihood that participants will transfer the lessons learned on-site back to their own communities even after the alternative break ends.

Break Away seeks to use alternative breaks as a springboard into lifelong active citizenship, where the community becomes a priority in an individual’s life decisions. Likewise, the UK ASB program aims to engage students in strong direct service to the community, through which students reflect upon complex social issues, and develop the knowledge and skills to take further action. According to Break Away, an estimated 36,000 students across the U.S. participated in an alternative break experience during spring break in 2008.

During the past few years, UK ASB has continued to grow, expanding from 3 service immersions offered during the program’s first year to offering over 10 service immersions, spanning UK’s Winter, Spring, and Summer Breaks in 2014-2015. In 2009, the program broadened its scope to include weekend service trips aimed at serving communities throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky by working with the Center for Courageous Kids in Scottsville, KY. In 2011, UK ASB announced the addition of its first Spring Break service immersion abroad to the rural community of Jaibon in the Dominican Republic. In 2012, the program added a second international Spring Break service immersion in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, in partnership with UK’s Shoulder To Shoulder Global program. UK ASB ventured beyond Spring Break in 2013, offering its first Winter Break service immersion in Jinotega, Nicaragua, working with the same same community partner – Outreach360 – as it does in the Dominican Republic. For 2014, UK ASB added its first-ever Summer Break service immersion with a two week trip to Accra, Ghana, working with UBELONG and focused on Global Youth Education.

As the UK ASB program continues to grow, it succeeds at engaging more UK students in the national alternative breaks movement, and at engaging more communities across the U.S. and around the world!

About UK ASB

UK Alternative Service Breaks is a program run by students, for students. We go beyond the borders of Lexington and Kentucky and offer you an alternative ways to spend your breaks!

In partnership with the national service organization Break Away, we do our part to connect UK students to service and learning opportunities across the U.S. and around the world. Whether your interest lays in health care, education, poverty, or emergency aid, and whether the community you wish to serve is local, regional, national, or even international, we have an opportunity that will match your personal passions with a community’s needs.

Even better, our list of Winter, Spring, and Summer Break service trips continues to grow so that you can find an opportunity as close as Appalachia or as far as Africa. With so many different issues to focus on and locations to travel to, you are sure to find the right alternative service break experience for you. Again this year, UK ASB will send one team of UK students to Jinotega, Nicaragua for a service immersion focused on Global Youth Empowerment during UK’s Winter Break . During Spring Break 2015 (March 14-22, 2015), we will also send teams of UK students to six locations – including five domestic and two international service immersions – each focused on a specific social issue and finally we will send a team of UK students to Ghana, Africa for a two-week service immersion focused on Global Youth Education during Summer Break 2015 (May 2015).

Regardless of which service trip you choose, you are guaranteed to come away from your experience with new friends, new knowledge, a renewed sense of self, and a renewed desire to serve.

We hope you will join us for what we hope will be a transformative and life-changing experience for you. We say experience because involvement in UK ASB does not begin and end with your service trip. Rather, it extends throughout the academic year with orientation sessions, educational programs, service projects, fundraising events, and of course a reunion gathering! We believe each of these components contributes to the overall success of each trip – whether it prepares you, builds you, challenges you, supports you, or connects you. We expect that UK ASB volunteers make a full-year commitment to participating in UK ASB; we also challenge volunteers to extend their commitment to the community service beyond their participation in UK ASB.

Our goal is to build future leaders that are active, conscientious citizens. Our mission is about much more than the here and now. It is about future leaders making our future world a better place to be. As our motto says: “you’ve got to go there to know there.” So, our challenge to you is to go there. Go there physically. Go there mentally. Go there emotionally. Go there spiritually. Then come back here with the knowledge and know-how to make a difference wherever you go.

For more information, explore our website or contact us at alternativebreaks@ukcco.org. We look forward to seeing you on a future UK Alternative Service Break!