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About Huskie Alternative Breaks

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History of Huskie Alternative Breaks

NIU's Huskie Alternative Breaks (HAB) program has been sending students to participate in community service throughout the United States since its founding in 2009, when compassionate Huskies joined together to provide their assistance in the wake of Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas. HAB strives to raise awareness and educate students about social issues by providing an opportunity for alternative breaks that will inspire them to become active members of society and leaders in their communities.

This unique service program at NIU provides students and faculty the opportunity to evaluate current social issues and seek ways to continually change the world.

"I joined HAB because I wanted to get involved on campus and meet new people. I had no idea HAB would leave such a lasting impression. Through HAB I’ve been inspired to volunteer in my community, made lasting friendships, strived to be a better, more considerate individual, and discovered a passion for service. I wish I had known about Huskie Alternative Breaks earlier in my college career."     by Anna Cosenza, Participant and Site Leader

What is so unique about Alternative Breaks?

Participants have the opportunity to: 
  • Meet other NIU students who are interested in service
  • Learn about cultural and social issues while doing service 
  • Make new connections across the country 
  • Build relationships 
  • Grow, learn, and change your point of view 
  • Travel without spending a lot of money 
  • Create social change

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where are the trips going?

Trip destinations change every year, depending on student interest. View current trips for this year's destinations.

2. Who is eligible to go on an Alternative Break trip?

Currently enrolled full-time NIU students, both undergraduate and graduate, who are in good academic and judicial standing with the university.

3. Can non-NIU students go on an HAB trip?

No. You currently must be an enrolled full-time NIU student to participate.

4. Why are Alternative Breaks alcohol-free?

Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. Alcohol affects group dynamics, participant safety, the local community, the university and the national alternative break student movement. As members of Break Away, we adhere to the 8 Quality Components, including alcohol-free breaks.

5. What do we eat and where do we sleep?

Accommodations are either provided by the host site or determined by the trip leaders. Possibilities include staying in tents, a church, a cabin or in the actual service organization/volunteer center. Food is also determined by each trip. Some sites provide meals, either for free or low-cost. Other trips have to buy and prepare all of their meals.

6. What is the typical schedule for a HAB trip?

HAB is a service trip and participants will be volunteering almost every day, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The schedule will vary depending on the trip and the student leader. It is also typical to have team meetings and/or reflection sessions daily in addition to the scheduled service work. Every trip leader tries to allow time for sightseeing, exploring and may plan small field trips. However, the main focus is service, and the majority of the time will be spent volunteering.