Alternative Spring Break FAQ

What are the dates of the Alternative Break trips?
Spring 2019 trip will be on March 9-17

Who will staff this program?
A UM Hillel staff member will accompany each group and be there for support, emergencies, and other roles.

Is this a religious program?
All Jews, regardless of background, affiliation, or practice, are welcome on the program. Hillel’s program will provide opportunities for participants to celebrate Jewish life together, though you will not be required to join in organized religious activities. In order to be as inclusive as possible, Kosher food will be served and there will be no travel on Shabbat. (Note: On some trips, vegetarian food will be served and students who keep Kosher may have to bring some food with them.) There will be a Shabbat experience on the program but, again, nothing will be required of participants.

What happens on Shabbat?
Shabbat is observed as a community beginning at sunset Friday night until sunset Saturday night. There will be many options of how to observe Shabbat and we encourage people to try something new. However, we do not require any observance, we just ask participants to be respectful of other people’s observance.

If someone applies, will they automatically be accepted to an Alternative Break trip?
A participant will apply online. The online application is the first step in the process, after which the participant will be contacted by a Hillel staff member or a student program leader for a personal interview. The interview will acquaint the participant with all of the details of the program and we expect the majority of individuals will qualify, however, space is limited.

How many spots are available on each trip?
Our trip has approximately 15-20 spots for students.

When will people hear if they get accepted to a trip?
Participants should be notified of acceptance by mid-November.

What are the expectations of the participants?
Participants are expected to…

  • Attend team orientation sessions

  • Have an open mind, think critically, and contribute to the group’s development

  • Participate in fundraising efforts

  • Help build team dynamic and prepare for the program

  • Contribute to post-program debriefing and follow-up programs

What is the Alternative Break program looking for in applicants?
There really isn’t an ideal candidate. In fact, many site leaders pick people with various qualities and interests to ensure a diverse team. In general, applicants should be enthusiastic, have a willingness to work hard, and have a strong interest in community service and the world around you.

Do I have to have past travel experience to participate in an Alternative Break?
No. In fact, many Alternative Break participants are first time travelers!

Can I still apply if I have never done community service?
Of course! We accept people with all ranges of service experience and involvement.

Is there a fee to participate in AB?
Each participant is asked to cover the cost of their own program.

How can I raise funds to decrease my expenses?
It’s not very difficult to raise funds for your trip, but it does require hard work and initiative. Your program leaders will work with the group to create fundraising efforts and provide team members resources on how to fundraise. Beyond that, many write letters to friends, family, their local synagogues, and Jewish organizations to solicit donations. In the past, some participants have applied for grants or written letters to businesses for larger donations. Many participants have funded their entire program in the past, but it all hinges on the effort you are willing to put into raising funds.

Is there a language requirement for certain international trips?
No. None of the international programs have a language requirement. We do hope that we will learn words and phrases before and during our international trips to familiarize ourselves with the local language and customs.

Does UM Hillel return to some of the same sites year after year or do they pick brand new sites every year?
One of the goals of the Alternative Break program is to create relationships between UM Hillel and the communities in which its students volunteer. Each year we review our trip options and continue to give back all over the world. It is not guaranteed that we will return to the same places each year.

Do participants think that they can save the world in one week?
Participants realize that one week of service cannot possibly solve all of the problems in the world, but they also recognize that it’s the first step and far more productive than doing nothing. While one week of service may not be able to save the world, Alternative Break trips provide valuable service to communities in need and equip their participants with the experience to be able to tackle these systematic problems in the future.

What if I don’t get placed on one of the programs that I really, really, really wanted to go on?
We try to honor everyone’s requests, but there are limited spots on each program. One of the core values of the Alternative Break program is learning from a new experience. So, being placed on a trip besides your first choice could be a blessing in disguise!

Can I go an Alternative Break trip with my best friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend?
We will try to honor requests to be with friends, but we cannot guarantee that you will both be accepted or both be put on the same trip.

What do I do if I get sick during the trip?
Site leaders are prepared to deal with illnesses and emergencies that may happen during the trips. Each group will have a first aid kit and is aware of contacts on the ground if something happens. The staff will take care of you and, if necessary, bring you to the hospital or a doctor.

How do I become an Alternative Break site leader?
Every year, when trip participants return from their programs, UM Hillel accepts applications and conducts interviews for those wishing to become a trip leader. Most important is a strong interest in community service, leadership skills, and enthusiasm for the Alternative Break program.

Is there a point at which I can no longer drop out of participating in an Alternative Break trip?
Deposits will be due at a couple of intervals and are non-refundable, unless we are able to fill your spot.

I will be abroad in the fall. Can I still apply to be a participant?
Yes, we would love for you to apply. Please fill out an application and indicate that you are abroad and someone will be in touch with you to set up a phone interview.

Who do I contact if I want more information?
For more information, please email Carly Greenspan



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University of Miami Hillel
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