Alternative Winter Break

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Alternative Winter Break (AWB) typically lasts six days while the university is closed between the fall and spring semesters. This year, the APPLES Service-Learning program will offer four unique alternative winter break opportunities for UNC undergraduates. Students spend six days working with experienced community partners and reflecting upon their learning experiences.

The learning begins before the break experience, as participants attend an orientation session designed to prepare them for the challenges and issues they will confront. Break leaders also host one social event and three learning experiences prior to departure, which may include small group discussion, guest speakers, documentary screenings or other special programming. Break leaders plan these experiences to accommodate participant schedules, and participants are asked to attend all sessions as their schedule allows.

During the break experience, students apply what they are learning about the focus areas and communities at different sites through direct and indirect service as well as advocacy work. An emphasis is placed on reflection throughout the trip and following the students’ return. At the beginning of the spring semester after students return to campus, participants attend a reorientation program to share experiences across breaks and consider ways to build on lessons learned. Students are encouraged to continue building friendships and their engagement in the local community through service and social events during the spring semester and beyond. Please note, AWB does not have an academic course connection, and therefore does not fulfill the experiential education requirement.  There is a non-refundable fee associated with Alternative Winter Breaks.  Need-based financial assistance may be available upon request.

APPLES sponsors AWB experiences in the following focus areas:

Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Hunger and Homelessness: In partnership with the UNC Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, students work with nonprofits surrounding food justice. Through working with these organizations and local community members, students gain a better understanding of food insecurity, the importance of reducing food waste and how we can make a positive impact on these issues.  You do not have to be a member of Alpha Phi Omega to participate on this trip.

Rural Communities: Students work with local organizations to gain a better understanding of education, health and infrastructure issues that affect a low-income rural community in North Carolina.

Students for Education Reform (SFER): In partnership with Students for Education Reform, APPLES participants have the opportunity to explore current topics in education, including youth mentoring, literacy, and college access by engaging with a local school and education-based nonprofits.

Violence Prevention: Students examine how intersections of social identities (i.e. gender, race, orientation, religion, etc.) affect one’s life chances and choices. They explore violence and its prevention, with a focus on issues related to gender-based violence.

When applying, students may indicate their preference.  Alternative Winter Break applications are closed.

2015 Alternative Winter Break Timeline

Sept. 15: Participant application opens
Oct. 5: Participant application closes
Oct. 9: Finalists selected for interview
Oct. 10-13 or 19-21: Applicant interviews
Oct. 26: Participants and alternates notified
Nov. 15: Participant orientation
Dec. 12-18: Alternative Winter Break
Jan. 24: Winter break re-orientation


Applications for the 2015 Alternative Winter Break program were open from Sept. 15 – Oct. 5.

Please note eligibility is only open to students who have not participated on an APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Break previously.

Applications for break leader positions are available in the spring semester.