Carnegie Mellon University
Due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19, Alternative Break Service Trips are postponed for the spring 2021 semester.

Alternative Break Service Trips

Take an in-depth look at social issues impacting the world, including Pittsburgh, through Alternative Break Service Trips. 

While most service trips occur during spring break, a few travel during the winter or summer break. The vast majority of service trips are international, with past trips including the Dominican Republic, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, India, Rwanda, Haiti and others.

Domestic opportunities exist as well. The CMU chapter of Habitat for Humanity focuses on affordable housing and travels twice a year to help build homes in a variety of communities across the country. Students can also stay in Pittsburgh for spring break and participate in Pittsburgh Alternative Break, a week-long, student-led program designed to give students a more in-depth look at social issues impacting Pittsburgh through hands-on service, reflective learning discussions and cultural experiences.

In past years, approximately 10-12 service trips are planned annually by student organizations and advised by the SLICE  and the Office of International Education (OIE). Check out some of trips that have taken place throughout the past few years.

students smiling on a beach in Haiti

CMU in Haiti

The club travels to Haiti to work and collaborate with various grassroots organizations and community organizers. CMU in Haiti's goal is to fund and promote humanitarian efforts to support grassroots activism and to forge a strong connection between the CMU and Haiti.

a large group of students smiling in what looks to be a garden in Puerto Rico

CMU in Puerto Rico

CMU in Puerto Rico seeks to understand how Puerto Rico responded to hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and how it recovers, rebuilds and improves its climate resilience in the absence of government. They host a speaker series to educate the CMU community about disaster recovery, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and Puerto Rico's history and economy. Interested students can travel to the island to experience disaster recovery work and climate resilience planning first-hand.

a large group of students on a hillside collecting trash and garbage

Engineers Without Borders

The Carnegie Mellon chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is part of a national, nonprofit organization with a network of more than 1,000 professionals and students working to reduce poverty and improve global sustainability. The chapter works on local and international engineering and sustainability projects to provide communities with tailored solutions to issues such as water distribution, water purification, power, shelter, sanitation and infrastructure improvement.

students having fun on each others backs creating a triangle formation

Global Business Brigades

Global Business Brigades is part of the international non-profit, Global Brigades, whose mission is to work with under-resourced global communities to resolve health and economic disparities.  Global Business Brigades focuses on business education and economic development for under-resourced micro-enterprises in developing countries. The organization works with community members to develop accounting, operations and management skills.

students in medical scrubs smiling and standing in front of a hospital

Global Medical Brigades

Global Medical Brigades is part of the international non-profit, Global Brigades, whose mission is to work with under-resourced global communities to resolve health and economic disparities. Global Medical Brigades focuses on medical outreach and education. The organization supports free medical clinics in rural communities abroad while completing projects to sustainably improve public health. The chapter helped pioneer the vision station in one of the clinics, where they used auto refractors to determine patients’ prescriptions and give them glasses.

four students smiling and standing in front of old truck

Global Public Health Brigades

Global Business Brigades is part of the international non-profit, Global Brigades, whose mission is to work with under-resourced global communities to resolve health and economic disparities. Global Public Health Brigades focuses on increasing access to public health initiatives and education. The organization partners with communities abroad to improve infrastructure, build healthy lifestyles and teach youth about public health and medicine.

four students smiling on top of a mountain in the deep countryside

Juntos

Juntos is a CMU organization that partners with an NGO, Bridges to Community, which develops poverty alleviation strategies with local communities in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Each year, two to four initiatives are developed by Juntos members to address the concerns of their partner community. Initiatives range from education, health, environmental sustainability and art.

students smiling with former CMU president Subra Suresh

Project Rwanda

Project Rwanda aims to enhance ties between CMU campuses and support Rwandan youth through a service project in Kigali, Rwanda, in a joint effort with CMU-Qatar and CMU-Africa. The organization focuses on furthering higher education in Rwanda by supporting local teachers. Members of Project Rwanda also work to enhance the experience of CMU-Africa students visiting the Pittsburgh campus.