Alternative Break ("Alt Break" for short) is a unique service immersion program hosted by the department of Spirituality, Service & Social Justice during the fall and spring breaks. What social justice issues are especially relevant in Tacoma? Alt Break will give you the chance to learn about & address the issues our community faces.
Feel free to email Sarah Shives (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions or to get on our email list.
Alternative Spring Break 2013:
Thirteen students across a range of years and majors spent their spring break (Mar. 17-19) engaging the theme of Immigration and Advocacy in Tacoma. Through volunteering, a cultural immersion, nonprofit tours and visiting with local activists, students explored the history of immigration in the US, the current state of immigration reform and the various obstacles that immigrants face within Tacoma and Pierce County. Students started spring break with a dinner kick-off on Sunday night and a viewing of the documentary “Harvest of Empire.” They volunteered with Guadalupe Gardens on Monday and participated in a cultural immersion by visiting a Vietnamese monastery and restaurant in south Tacoma. Afterwards, they listened to the story of Luis Ortega, Political Director for the DREAM Act Coalition of Washington State. On Tuesday, students visited with representatives from Northwest Detention Center Roundtable, took a guided tour of Tacoma Community House and wrapped up on campus with a pizza celebration.
Overall, students enjoyed Alternative Spring Break and appreciated this year’s emphasis on education and advocacy. One student said: “I loved exploring Tacoma a little more and really liked the broad inclusion of different aspects of the immigrant population and the mix of fun, food, education and service.” Students also felt more connected to the issue of immigration and knew of ways they could get involved on- and off-campus. “ASB provided me with numerous resources to continue my new interest in immigration matters.” The response from service agencies and off-campus communities was positive as well. A representative from the Vietnamese monastery said: “The abbot was pleased to have people interested in hearing about the challenges immigrants face. Students from Puget Sound are more than welcome to visit and contact us in the future.”
Alternative Fall Break (AFB) 2012
Thirteen students spent their fall break (Oct. 13-16) engaging the theme of “Social Justice in Tacoma” through volunteering, advocacy work, communal meals and listening to local activists speak about civic engagement, campus apathy and community organizing.
AFB 2012 consisted of a dinner kick-off on Saturday night, two and a half days of diverse community service at various sites around Tacoma and a celebratory reflection lunch on Tuesday. Students built raised garden beds for Hilltop Urban Gardens, packed backpacks of food at St. Leo’s Food Connection and participated in the ESL program Talk Time at Tacoma Community House. They cleared up brush at L’Arche Farm & Gardens and served breakfast at Tacoma Rescue Mission. Through volunteering, students were able to learn more about issues of food justice, community gardening, disability, immigration and homelessness.
The student response from AFB was highly positive and encouraging. Students were able to reflect on the importance of service and also cultivated their values around social justice. One student said, “My personal values have been shaped by my community back home. I feel that in order to also call Tacoma home, I need to share my values with those from Tacoma. In order to do that I do service.”
Students were also impacted by the talks by local community members. One student commented in their evaluation: "The conversation with Dave helped me to realize that I can take a more active role advocating for causes I believe in and constantly challenging the status quo.”
Each year, Puget Sound invites students to spend the day before Spring Semester starts taking "a day on" rather than a day off for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Returning students, faculty and staff are invited to spend Monday working (along side spring-semester new/transfer students) at a variety of service sites around Tacoma. 2011 was Puget Sound's 25th anniversary of celebrating Dr. King and over 300 volunteers worked with many organizations to make a big impact. For more information email email@example.com.