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PLEASE NOTE: All Spring 2021 Alternative Breaks plans are subject to change upon additional guidance and regulations set by the University of Utah. We will keep this page updated with accurate information and will notify applicants/participants of any changes that occur after they apply/join the program.


Each AB Lite experience will have a unique format and structure,
including dates, virtual/in-person work, and time requirements.

Please review the descriptions of each AB Lite experience below before applying,
as well as information related to the virtual accessibility of these experiences.


 

Applications due Friday, January 29, 2021

Apply FOR YOUR AB LITE EXPERIENCE


In the interest of campus and community safety, University of Utah administrators have eliminated spring break from the Spring 2021 academic schedule, and have implemented a two-week period of virtual instruction from March 1 through March 14. You can find more information regarding the Spring 2021 semester in this @TheU announcement, or by visiting the U's COVID-19 Central.

 

Review our COVID-Conscious Measures for Spring 2021 AB Lite

full details regarding our Spring 2021 COVID-informed decisions can be found on our FAQ page

In Fall 2020, we opened our advertisement of AB Lite with "FOR ONE SEMESTER, AND ONE SEMESTER ONLY (unless we do it again)..." 

Well, we're doin' it again! And this time, we've received feedback from our participants on how we can make AB Lite experiences even more impactful while still working toward the safety of our students and, importantly, the community members we'll be working with.

How is AB Lite different from a "normal" Alternative Break?

The student and staff leaders of the Alternative Breaks program are coordinating a set of fully local, two-day AB experiences for students to share work and stories with community partners right here in the Salt Lake Valley. These "AB Lite" experiences will look just like a "normal" Alternative Break in most ways:

  • we'll travel together, though the roadtrip will be much shorter;
  • we'll partner with organizations and individuals doing rad work that we can support while learning about topics of social and environmental justice; 
  • we'll dive into the education, reflection, and community-building that make an AB experience so impactful

Of course, we've had to make some changes to our usual work to make sure students can feel safe participating in Alt Breaks during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and to respond to scheduling changes from the U of U. Each of our AB Lite experiences will be:

Two Days

Working within the University's new academic schedule for the Spring 2021 semester, we'll be coordinating all of our AB Lite experiences on two separate weekends:
March 20 & 21
OR March 27 & 28

  • There will be no overnight lodging with AB groups
  • There will be required meetings prior to and following the two-day experience in order to prepare participants and more thoroughly address the complexity of these topics

Of course, this means that we'll be staying primarily in the Salt Lake Valley for each of our AB Lite experiences, in order to minimize our driving times and maximizing the time we spend engaging with our topic and community partners.

COVID-Conscious

The health and wellness of our teams and the larger community will continue to be a priority for the Bennion Center during these AB Lite experiences.
Some health measures will include:

  • No group lodging overnight
  • Reducing group sizes to 6 participants on each team
  • Utilizing spaces, materials, and meal plans that allow participants to feel safe throughout the entire AB Lite experience
  • Working with our community partners to coordinate projects that are outdoors or, when indoors, allow for physical distancing

We will continue to follow University of Utah health and safety guidelines, which can be found here.

Completely Free

In order to eliminate some of the financial barriers to accessing AB experiences, our Spring 2021 AB Lite experiences will be completely free to students. No down payments. No participation fees. Just community engagement and justice education.

All AB-related expenses during the experience (meals, reservations, transportation, activity fees, etc.) will be covered by the Bennion Center.

While we know that students might still need to request time off from work on this day, we hope that the elimination of out-of-pocket expenses can provide all students the opportunity to participate in AB if they haven't been able to before.

For questions related to financing the AB experience, please contact J Swanger.

Learn more about each AB Lite experience

Spring 2021 AB Lite Experiences

Applicants will be able to apply for AB Lite experiences on both weekends, if they are available and desire to participate on topics that happen to be scheduled for both weekends. However, in an effort provide opportunities for participation in Alt Breaks to as many students as possible, we will be offering placements to selected applicants on only one AB Lite experience. Full details in the AB Lite application.

About this Experience

Cats and dogs are so cute, right!? When one thinks of animal advocacy, the first topic that often comes to mind is adopting pets and volunteering at animal shelters; however, animal advocacy is so much more. During this experience we will engage and discuss a variety of topics including extinction and conservation, the positive and negative impacts of zoos, as well as animal rescue and pet adoption. We will explore how animal advocacy is connected to other social justice issues including racism and climate change. While working with community partners, we will have the opportunity to apply these topics further as well as meet some cool critters! By the end of the experience, our group will have collectively formed a solid foundation on which to launch our future animal advocacy.


 

Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

Utah is a great location to see the beauty of the night sky in all its full glory. However, it’s also a great area to see just how impactful light pollution can be and how far people have gone to conserve this beauty. Students will practice acts of conservation and restoration within the local environment of Utah while empowering themselves to practice conservation efforts in their own lives. As we continue toward the night, students will extend their knowledge of environmental stewardship to learn the importance of Dark Skies and the progressing movement to sustain it. Our goal is to provide students with an understanding of sustainable living to progress toward a more sustainable future.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

"What is Life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” (- Black Elk, Oglala Sioux, and Spiritual Leader (1863 - 1950).

I can't imagine what it must be like to be one of the indigenous people of the United States of America. I can't imagine watching the news every day - as people debate whose country this is and who should be in charge of it and how to make it great again - and hardly ever see your people brought into the discussion. Everyone has a different way of interpreting life; with how many different views there are in the world, we all must look beyond our own biases and consider other people's way of interpreting life, often also furthering our knowledge on a topic that we enjoy or have a personal connection with. In the process of working with local community organizations and learning about indigenous justice, I think that this experience will offer a new perspective for people who are looking to expand their horizons or build on their knowledge.

Image by Remy (Diné).


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

Michelle Alexander says it best when she writes in her book, The New Jim Crow, “Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Despite claims that slavery and racism are memories of a distant American past, our society continues its dependence on the unjust enslavement of black and brown communities. Join us as we embark on a journey to unpack Antiblackness, the prison-industrial complex, and abolition as they each relate to the system of mass incarceration.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

Queerness is both a criticism of and collective movement against the status quo. It challenges cisgender identity and heterosexuality as the epitome of validity by offering a more expansive basis for humanhood.” – Gem Nwanne

On Queering Justice, we will look at the history and colonization of definitions of queerness, the legal and administrative barriers imposed upon queer and trans people, and what it means to “queer” transformative solutions to these issues. By engaging with queerness in activism, we will see how the solutions our community partners present mitigate antiqueer violence or continue to perpetuate racism and ableism.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

Pacific sunsets, long walks on the beach, dirt permanently stuck under fingernails, brains and hearts filled with new memories and knowledge. Aaaah wouldn’t it be nice. Sadly we will not be able to go to California this time around. HOWEVER, this does not mean that we won’t enjoy the bliss of scenic sunsets and beautiful landscapes while we brightly toil about in the depths of conservation work. This year we will replace sandy beaches with deserts of red rock and glassy swells with barreling rock formations.

The foundation of this program has always been to offer experiences that aid in producing more active members of our communities, and that is exactly what I aim to do with this weekend. We will work with local authorities to program a unique experience that is both engaging and educational for individuals of all backgrounds. Now you may be wondering, “Ryan, how is it possible to appeal to literally everyone?” Good question! We all experience the world differently, so my hope here is to facilitate an experience that embraces our individuality and uniqueness through physical interaction with conservation work as well as consistent reflection exercises. But wait, THERE’S MORE! We will also be pulling from sources all over the world in order to paint a picture of what sustainability on a global front looks like, how these issues are addressed, and how we can bring all of this back to both Salt Lake as well our own lives. Come ready to learn, lead, and advocate!


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

When you hear the word environment, what images come to mind? You might first think to basins filled with wildflowers, mountains capped with snow, waves rolling into shore, or maybe even towering red rocks. But, what about the urban environment?

On this experience, we will explore the many definitions of environment in addition to the complex, ever-changing relationship between humans and our surroundings. Participants will work alongside community organizations to learn about the meaning and practice of environmentalism in the Salt Lake Valley, emphases placed on sustainable development, food systems, and pollution mitigation. Additionally, we will engage with environmental justice topics through discussing the many faces of environmentalism, representation in outdoor spaces, and equitable access and experience. Urban environmentalism is a challenging and meaningful journey, and we hope to work through the accompanying difficult emotions together, all while learning with and from you and our community partners. Creating a more just, healthy, and resilient world is not easy, but we can and must do something.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

 

About this Experience

Mental health and addiction stigma, barriers to healthcare access in the United States, and navigating the challenges of personal wellbeing are all topics that students will encounter in their lifetime. The negative stigma associated with mental health and cynical views in healthcare based on class, sexuality, race, culture, and more permeate our society.

While participating in the community health experience, we will learn about and engage in activities that challenge these stigmas and encourage us to lean into the discomfort of justice-based education to promote personal growth. We will develop a deeper knowledge of the disparities faced by people suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. We will engage with community partners to observe and analyze the model of harm reduction to see how it approaches addiction and the care of people suffering from addiction. Participants should be able to think critically and reflect deeply on issues in community health by the end of this experience. We are excited to learn with and from you! 


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

Poverty is an experience that disproportionately affects people who are women or non-binary. Poverty is in part both created by and magnified by experiences of oppression such as ableism, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Poverty is a complex and nuanced issue.

Join us on an Alternative Break to learn about these nuances and to work and learn with community partners working to eradicate poverty and empower people, specifically focusing on the experiences of women and non-binary individuals. Get ready for a difficult but empowering experience! In preparing for this Alt Break, think about what your community would look like with no poverty. What would your state or country look like with no poverty? What would the world look like with no poverty? 


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

During this highly educational experience, participants will explore the various impacts of HIV and AIDS in communities both locally and nationally. Participants will gain a basic understanding of the historical implications of HIV, sex education, preventative treatments, safe drug use, and the impacts of HIV and AIDS on interpersonal relationships, access to healthcare, and food security. Additionally, participants will be learning to break down and challenge misconceptions surrounding HIV and AIDS as they work alongside community-based programs utilizing harm reduction models.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

Coming to the University of Utah and walking about Salt Lake City, we constantly see our community hurting; so many of our neighbors are out on the streets without shelter. It’s common to want to help our community heal and support our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and even more common to feel unable or unsure about how to do so.

During this experience, we will learn. We will volunteer at homeless shelters and at other organizations dedicated to helping people experiencing houselessness get back on their feet to see how they support our community. We will listen to and learn from the experiences of people without housing, seeing how their reality differs from the common stereotypes of drugs and poverty which we see portrayed in society. Finally, we will explore the relationship between those experiencing homelessness and the housing and legal system that is set against them, and how that relationship also affects our lives. By the end, we’ll all have a better understanding of the reality of those struggling with homelessness and of the assistance we can provide in a person’s journey to self-sufficiency in order to strengthen our community, all the while getting to know each other and learning and growing together.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

There is no greater disservice done to the immigrant community than to reduce their experiences and plight.

On this Alt Break, we will explore the complexities of immigration—legal and otherwise—by delving into the root causes of illegal immigration, oppression disproportionately affecting immigrants, and best practices in building community with folks of varying legal status. This experience will focus on humanizing undocu individuals and shifting away from the dominant xenophobic narrative of stigmatization to one of strength and resilience. We will work in power with community-centered SLC organizations in pursuit of justice-based experiential learning around immigration. As a site leader, I expect participants to engage (or at least be open to engaging) in this experience with two fundamental lenses:

1. No human being is illegal; 2. Cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity is an asset to society, not a deficit.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

Fun fact: the ocean and its marine ecosystems are some of the most important in the world, supporting the life of all living things. Without it, even life on land would be nearly impossible!

On this Alt Break experience, we will explore the impacts humans have on our marine ecosystems, as well as have the opportunity to become involved in active marine conservation efforts—right here in Salt Lake City! Through direct service and education, we will identify current conservation efforts and how our way of life affects our oceans, wildlife, and the economy that surrounds it focusing on sustainability. Participants will also be able to learn and work alongside non-profit organizations and community led partners that actively educate and engage in marine conservation and help to improve our oceans for a better and livable future.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

About this Experience

"It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks." - Dina Nayeri

This AB experience addresses the complex and intersecting unmet needs around refugee rights and the resettlement process. Specific consideration is given to supporting the basic human rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced persons in the Salt Lake Valley through volunteer work with local community organizations. Come ready to listen to local communities, learn about the complexities of resettlement, and become a leader in advocating for those of a refugee background in our sanctuary city.


Cost: FREE. The Bennion Center will cover all AB-related expenses for participants including transportation, food, and volunteer experiences. (Participants will be responsible for individual purchases such as souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)

Dates: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 (no overnight). Expect an an early morning departure from the U on Saturday morning, a return to campus and participants' individual homes on Saturday evening, and repeating the process on Sunday.

Format: Primarily in-person. While some components of this experience may take place virtually or remotely—including pre-break meetings—we currently anticipate that the majority of the day-long break will occur in-person at various sites on- and off-campus.

 

Questions about a specific experience? Visit our Meet the Team page to contact the Site Leader directly!



Participant Information

While we are proud to be able to offer Fall 2020 AB Lite experiences at no cost to our participants, we recognize that economic barriers to participation still exist in the form of access to technology, wifi, and a secure space necessary for any virtual meetings prior to, during, and following the AB Lite experience.

Even if a break above is not listed as occurring virtually, it is possible that some pre-break meetings or on-break education will require access to the internet and virtual platforms such as Zoom.

We don't take this accessibility concern lightly, and will work with any interested participants to ensure they have full, uninterrupted access to the devices, internet, and space necessary to participate in these experiences. We can offer students:

  • Access to desktop computers in the Bennion Center (on campus), equipped with UConnect internet connection and webcams for Zoom meetings.
  • A quiet, safe, uninterrupted atmosphere in the Bennion Center while virtual meetings/discussions are taking place for AB Lite. Plus, there'll be plenty of snacks!
  • Assistance in connecting with other University departments/resources to rent any devices or reserve private spaces on campus that can be used for the AB Lite experience.

If you have concerns about what devices/technology will be necessary for the AB Lite experiences you'd like to apply for, please don't hesitate to contact J Swanger, Alternative Breaks Program Manager.

NEW THIS YEAR: 

  • The Alternative Breaks selection process is application-based only; not first-come, first-served. Applicants will be selected by a committee based on their preferences in regards to AB experiences as well as the thought and feeling put into the short essay responses.
  • The deadline to apply for Spring 2021 AB Lite experiences is Friday, January 29, 2021 at 11:59pm. However, we encourage interested students to apply before the deadline as applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis to ensure a quick turnaround in selections when applications close. That said, the submission time of your application will not affect your placement on an AB Lite experience.
  • Applicants will be notified of whether or not they have been placed on an AB Lite experience by Tuesday, February 2.

These are the expectations to which the Bennion Center holds all of its Alternative Breaks participants. Failure to adhere the Alternative Breaks and University of Utah policies will result in expulsion from the program.

All participants are expected to:

  • Abide by all University of Utah, Bennion Center, and Alternative Breaks policies related to public health, individual wellness, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Attend a Justice Workshop in preparation for their AB experience (approximately 1.5 hours)
  • Attend all pre-departure meetings and other trip activities and trainings (approximately 8 hours)
  • Provide policy information for any personal medical insurance they will have for the duration of their AB Lite experience in the event of a medical emergency. Medical insurance is not a requirement to participate in Alternative Breaks; a secondary group insurance is purchased to cover those who do not have medical insurance.
  • Be financially responsible for any incidental personal expenses incurred during the experience (i.e., souvenirs)
  • Participate in all AB activities including community engagement projects, team-building exercises, and other activities as determined by group leaders
  • Abide by all University of Utah policies and procedures as they apply to the Alternative Breaks experience
  • Remain alcohol- and drug-free from date of departure until time of return
  • Participate in a post-break Reorientation event on Friday, April 16, 2021 from 4:00-6:00 pm (location/platform TBA).

 

Please contact J Swanger with any questions. 

Last Updated: 11/9/20