Carnegie Mellon University

Alternative Break Service Trips

There are approximately 10-12 service trips that are planned annually by student organizations and advised by the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement (SLICE) and the Office of International Education (OIE). While most service trips occur during spring break, a few travel during the winter or summer break. The vast majority of our service trips are international, with past trips volunteering in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, India, Rwanda, Haiti and more.

Their work focuses on an equally expansive set of challenging social issues by staffing medical clinics, teaching in orphanage classrooms, creating business development plans with local business leaders, or working alongside community members on community development projects that address sanitation, water issues, and more. In addition to the many international service trips that occur, several also address domestic needs, such as building houses side-by-side with the homeowners.

Pittsburgh Alternative Break

Partners Allied in Civic Engagement (PACE) hosts a Pittsburgh-based alternative break trip each spring break that connects students to a variety of non-profits in the City of Pittsburgh and offers a chance to meet other CMU students who want to take action locally. Information and sign-ups will be available in the spring semester. Questions about this trip can be directed to Michaela Page.

How to Get Connected

Applications will come out very early in the fall semester from the student organizations that are facilitating their alternative break trips. To connect with and and learn more about these student organizations, attend the Volunteer Fair and Activities Fair, or check them out on The Bridge. Trips fill up quickly so don’t delay. Many service trip organizations have local projects which will need volunteers as well.

Looking to launch a new service trip? Contact Michaela Page, to get started.

picture of students and local community members of Nicaragua during the 2017 Global Medical Brigades Spring Break trip

Global Medical Brigades

This past spring break, 24 students from Carnegie Mellon’s chapter of Global Medical Brigades (GMB) traveled to Guacucal and Los Encuentros de San Gabriel in Nicaragua to set up a medical clinic, and to complete a public health project. In preparation for the trip, they conducted weekly medication drives at Rite Aid Pharmacy and collected over $50,000 worth of much needed medications to distribute in Nicaragua. They also collaborated with UPMC’s Eye and Ear Institute to process over 1000 pairs of glasses. Medical Brigades is part of the greater Global Brigades, the world’s largest student-led global sustainability movement. Global Brigades is composed of many different sectors that tackle various aspects of a developing community, including Public Health, Business, Water, and Engineering. Carnegie Mellon’s Medical Brigade focuses specifically on providing affordable health care to communities in need, and ensuring sustainable health practices through education about dental/personal hygiene, sexual health, and nutrition.

a group of 12 Carnegie Mellon students helping with the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home.

Habitat for Humanity

This past spring break, a group of 12 Carnegie Mellon students traveled to Whatcom County, Washington to help with the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home.

Global Water Brigades (GWB) traveled to San Lorenzo, Honduras

Global Water Brigades


This past spring break, Global Water Brigades (GWB) traveled to San Lorenzo, Honduras. GWB aims to empower communities by implementing water systems that will help prevent water related diseases. Read more about their experience.