Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) promotes a multicultural philosophy with hopes of increasing self awareness and promoting an understanding of social issues such as racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. WUD defines multiculturalism as the "commitment to the basic humanity and unity of all individuals while simultaneously validating or legitimizing, accepting, understanding, appreciating, or prizing the fundamental or distinct differences which exist between people of different cultural backgrounds." This means that diversity can be appreciated through empathy and understanding of those persons holding different beliefs or values.A universal goal of higher education is to shape a more ambitious, aware and driven graduate though critical thinking of new perspectives and experiences. As a result of the hands-on learning approach provided through Alternative Breaks, we strive to give students an opportunity for compassionate and service based involvement on campus and beyond.
Alternative Breaks has taken WUD's philosophy and placed it in a "hands-on" context, where students can witness and experience the lives of and issues concerning ethnically and culturally unique populations in the United States, including (but not limited to) inner-city communities migrant farm workers, American Indians living on reservations, and rural Appalachians. This "hands-on" approach is accomplished by placing participants into volunteer work situations among the various populations. While accomplishing meaningful work, the labor aspect of the Alternative Breaks Experience is secondary to the primary objective of providing students with an intense educational experience, one that will hopefully change the participants' lives for the better, incite involvement with local issues in one's own community, and allow issues within these disenfranchised sectors of the United States' population to be heard and known.
Alternative Breaks is not a vacation. Participants are expected to be fully committed to their service learning experience. Our application process is designed to allow the best UW-Madison candidates to represent our University both abroad and within the United States as leaders, team-builders and global citizens. We understand each participant has a unique background in all aspects of life, and we strive to bring out these features to enrich the lives of your fellow participants as well as your host site. Participants who embark on an Alternative Break often find they will learn more than how to be a good volunteer at their host site; including a friend, long car-rides and preparing meals together are just a few of the things that grow life-long friendships.
The Alternative Breaks experience provides student planned, intense educational experiences through volunteer labor in a variety of settings. Through the opportunity to travel outside of one's comfort zone, there is infinite room for self- growth, as we come together for a common goal. We will continue to change the participants' lives for the better, incite involvement with local issues in our own community, and allow issues within disenfranchised sectors of the United States' population to be heard and known.Finally, our cooperative leadership model gives participants a meaningful experience where each individual is able to take on a variety of leadership roles.. Alternative Breaks seeks to provide participants a rare opportunity to bond with other students in a way not possible with most other campus organizations. Through our Domestic and International Service, Alternative Breaks provides a unique opportunity for cost effective travel, life changing volunteer work, and some once in a lifetime experiences.