What are the dates of the Alternative Break trips?
Winter 2018 Alternative Break trips will be during the month of January. Spring 2018 trips will be March 18-25.

Who will staff this program?
Working closely with Maryland Hillel’s Director of Student Life, two student Alternative Break Fellows plan, oversee, and lead each trip. In addition, a Maryland Hillel staff member will accompany each group on the trip and be there for support, emergencies, and other roles.

Where does Maryland Hillel choose for Alternative Break trips?
Maryland Hillel strives to find a balance between maintaining relationships with communities around the world and connecting with new and exciting communities. Each year we review our trips and decide on a list of locations for the following year. From one year to the next, some locations will stay the same, while others will change. Regardless of location, participants can expect that with each new set of fellows comes a new and unique trip.

What is the Alternative Break program looking for in applicants?
There really isn’t an ideal candidate. In fact, many leaders pick trip participants with various qualities and interests to ensure a diverse team. In general, applicants should be enthusiastic, have a willingness to work hard, and have a strong interest in community service and the world around you.

What is the process once someone applies? Do some people get accepted and not others?
The online application is the first step in the process, after which the applicants will be contacted by an Alternative Break Fellow for an in-person interview. The interview will acquaint the participant with all of the details of the program and allow the fellows to get to know the student. While the goal is to maximize the number of students who can go, space is limited, so it is not guaranteed that everyone will get a spot. Each trip has approximately 10-15 spots for students. Emails will be sent out by the end of October notifying applicants about the status of their acceptance. If you are not accepted to your selected trip, you will automatically be put on a waiting list.

I will be abroad in the fall. Can I still apply to be a participant?
Yes, we would love for you to apply. Fill out an application and indicate that you are abroad and someone will be in touch with you to set up a video or phone interview.

If I am accepted, now what?
Once accepted, there are a few things to know. The first is there is a required deposit to save your spot on the trip. If you decide you cannot attend the Alternative Break after you have given in your deposit, the status of refunding your money depends on Maryland Hillel’s ability to fill your spot. Once you have put down your deposit, participants are expected to…

  • Attend three team orientation sessions.
  • Have an open mind, think critically, and contribute to the group’s development.
  • Participate in fundraising efforts.
  • Help build team dynamic and prepare for the program.
  • Contribute to post-program debriefing and follow-up programs.

Is this a religious program?
All Jews, regardless of background, affiliation, or practice, are welcome on the program. Each team will bring Kosher pots/pans on its trip and Kosher food will be prepared. On some trips, vegetarian food will be served and students who keep Kosher may have to bring supplemental food with them. In addition, there will be no travel on Shabbat.

What happens on Shabbat?
Shabbat is observed as a community from sunset on Friday night until the end of Shabbat on Saturday evening. While we do not require any specific observance, the day will consist of Shabbat programming as a team.

Is there a language requirement for certain international trips?
No. While we do hope to learn words and phrases during our international trips to familiarize ourselves with the local language, there are not specific requirements.

What do I do if I get sick during the trip?
Staff and site leaders are prepared to deal with illnesses and emergencies that may happen during the trips. Each group will have a first aid kit and is aware of contacts on the ground if something happens. The staff will take care of you and, if necessary, bring you to the hospital or a doctor.

Do participants think that they can save the world in one week?
Participants realize that one week of service cannot possibly solve all of the problems in the world, but they also recognize that it’s the first step and far more productive than doing nothing. While one week of service may not be able to save the world, Alternative Break trips provide valuable service to communities in need and equip their participants with the experience to be able to tackle these systematic problems in the future.

I just came back from my trip, and now I want to run one. How can I apply to be an Alternative Break Fellow?
Every year, when trip participants return from their programs, Maryland Hillel accepts applications and conducts interviews for those wishing to become a trip leader. Most important is a strong interest in community service, leadership skills, and enthusiasm for the Alternative Break program.

Is there a fee to participate in an Alternative Break trip?
Each participant is asked to cover the cost of their own program, ranging anywhere from $500 to $2,000, depending on the program location, length, and service involved.

Is there a point at which I can no longer drop out of participating in an Alternative Break trip?
A $200 deposit will be due to confirm your spot in the group. Then, a final payment will be due approximately two months before the trip. Payments are non-refundable, unless we are able to fill your spot.

What if I cannot afford the trip?
Maryland Hillel is committed to ensuring the trips are affordable to all that want to participate. If a student finds themselves unable to afford their trip, there are a variety of options. While each student has different needs, a few of the options include reaching out to extended family and friends, friends, contacting hometown Jewish organizations, and applying for a scholarship through Maryland Hillel.