About Huskie Alternative Breaks


History of Huskie Alternative Breaks

NIU's Huskie Alternative Breaks (HAB) program is centered on creating transformative, community engagement experiences for students through regional or international, reciprocal campus-community partnerships. The program aims to develop the capacity for students to lead for social change. The HAB experience encourages students to critically analyze their assumptions and mindsets through learning about the complexity of social problems. The learning occurs for students as they are asked to be willing to engage in challenging reflections and conversations, ask questions, examine their beliefs, make mistakes and confront difficult issues.

This unique service-learning program at NIU provides students and faculty the opportunity to evaluate current social issues and seek ways to continually change the world.

"I joined HAB because I wanted to get involved on campus and meet new people. I had no idea HAB would leave such a lasting impression. Through HAB I’ve been inspired to volunteer in my community, made lasting friendships, strived to be a better, more considerate individual, and discovered a passion for service. I wish I had known about Huskie Alternative Breaks earlier in my college career."     by Anna Cosenza, Participant and Site Leader

What is so unique about Alternative Breaks?

Participants have the opportunity to: 
  • Meet other NIU students who are interested in community engagement.
  • Receive academic credit for their participation.
  • Learn about and reflect upon the complexity and interconnectedness of social issues and problems.
  • Build meaningful relationships and a new community of civic-minded NIU students.
  • Grow, learn, and change your point of view.
  • Develop an increased capacity to work across differences to build community.
  • Gain valuable experience for your resume and future professional or educational pursuits.
  • Learn about yourself, challenge yourself, and have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where are the trips going?

Trip destinations change every year, depending on student interest. View current trips for this year's destinations.

2. Who is eligible to go on an Alternative Break trip?

Currently enrolled full-time NIU undergraduate students, who are in good academic and judicial standing with the university.

3. Can non-NIU students go on an HAB trip?

No. You currently must be an enrolled full-time NIU student to participate.

4. Why are Alternative Breaks alcohol-free?

Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. Alcohol affects group dynamics, participant safety, the local community, the university and the national alternative break student movement. As members of Break Away, we adhere to the 8 Quality Components, including alcohol-free breaks.

5. What do we eat and where do we sleep?

Accommodations are either provided by the host site or determined by the trip leaders. Possibilities include staying in tents, a church, a cabin or in the actual service organization/volunteer center. Food is also determined by each trip. Some sites provide meals, either for free or low-cost. Other trips have to buy and prepare all of their meals.

6. What is the typical schedule for a HAB trip?

HAB is a service trip and participants will be volunteering almost every day, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The schedule will vary depending on the trip and the student leader. It is also typical to have team meetings and/or reflection sessions daily in addition to the scheduled service work. Every trip leader tries to allow time for sightseeing, exploring and may plan small field trips. However, the main focus is service, and the majority of the time will be spent volunteering.