A student volunteers as part of a Middlebury Alternative Break Trip.

MAlt is Middlebury’s alternative break program. 

Each year, students design and plan six trips during February Break (national and international destinations) and one Vermont-based trip during Fall and Spring Breaks.

How It Works

The goal of the trips is to engage Middlebury students with communities across the nation and the globe in order to share an experience, provide service where service is needed, and learn about the systems that shape community realities around the world.

The program has a needs-blind acceptance policy and does fundraising throughout the year to make sure that anyone who needs financial assistance can participate.

Reminder: All MAlt participants must be on campus for fall and J-Term in order to participate in the trips.

Past Destinations

  • Boston
  • New York City
  • El Paso
  • San Francisco
  • Miami
  • Cherokee Nation
  • New Orleans
  • Washington D.C.
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • Nicaragua
  • El Salvador
  • Jamaica
  • Dominican Republic

Frequently Asked Questions

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MAlt is Middlebury’s alternative break program. We provide affordable, service-oriented alternatives to traditional February break activities. We offer opportunities for students to help others and to expand their own experiences and perspectives by serving on local, domestic, and international trips. The trips are drug- and alcohol-free and provide a great chance to engage in an immersive intercultural service experience with peers.

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MAlt trips run during Feb break because students do not have any schoolwork at this point, and we have time to prepare for the trips over fall semester and J-term.

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MAlt generally includes four domestic and two international trips. Destinations change annually but this past cycle of trips included Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica. There are also “mini MAlts,” which involve three or four days of service here in Vermont, which take place over Fall break.

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Depending on the trip, groups typically stay at hostels, churches, schools, campgrounds, or participate in home-stays.

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Each MAlt trip typically has a total of 12 participants, including two well-qualified and trained leaders, all Middlebury students.

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MAlt trips are heavily subsidized by the MAlt student organization budget and private donors. Fundraising throughout the year also ensures that anyone who needs financial assistance can participate.

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Kailee Brickner-McDonald, Program Director, Center for Community Engagement, 20 Old Chapel Road. Email kbricknermcdonald@middlebury.edu or call 802-443-3010.

Key Trip Components 

Strong Direct Service: Trips should provide an opportunity for participants to engage in direct or “hands on” activities that address unmet needs as determined by the host community. Community interaction is highly encouraged during the break.

Alcohol- and Drug-Free: Issues of legality, liability, personal safety, and group cohesion are at risk when alcohol and other drugs are consumed on an alternative break; therefore, MAlt trips are alcohol- and drug-free. No exceptions.

Diversity: Strong alternative break trips include participants representing the diversity of the Middlebury student body. The application process is name-blind, but age, year, gender, major, and experience are reviewed to create balance within each trip.

Orientation: Prior to departure, participants will attend regular group meetings in the fall semester and J-term where they will be oriented to the mission and objectives of MAlt, the trip, and the host agency or organizations with which they will be working.

Education: Trips will include educational sessions that participants attend prior to and during their alternative break. These sessions will provide participants with a sense of the history of both the region they will be working in and the problems they will be working on during the break.

Reflection: During the trip, participants will reflect upon their experience, synthesizing the direct service, education, and community interaction components of the trip. Time will be set aside for this activity to take place both individually and as a group on a daily basis.

Reorientation: Upon returning to campus, reorientation activities are held that enable all participants to share their break experiences and translate these experiences into a lifelong commitment to active citizenship.

Policies

Accessibility: MAlt is committed to making alternative break trips available to all students and therefore subsidizes trip costs through SGA Finance Committee Funding, donor gifts, and fundraising. Participants are required to pay the minimum trip fee ($275 for domestic trips, $375 for international trips), which is only approximately 25% of the actual trip cost. Every participant is expected to participate in the fundraising efforts of the group. In the event that a trip exceeds its fundraising goal, each group will donate the funds to the host organization or donate them to the MAlt general fund for future MAlt scholarships. If a participant has extreme financial need, they can contact Kailee Brickner-McDonald to set-up a payment plan. Please note: Does not apply to October and March “mini MAlt” trips.

Fundraising: Each trip will be responsible for raising the money needed to fund the trip costs. Fundraisers must be approved by the tri-chairs in accordance with campus policies. Groups may work together on fundraisers, and all groups may do the same fundraiser when appropriate (e.g., brochures to family and friends). Soliciting local businesses is prohibited, and soliciting Middlebury College organizations, offices, and the Commons must be approved by the co-presidents and Kailee Brickner-McDonald. Please note: does not apply to October and March “mini MAlt” trips.

Participant Withdrawal: If a confirmed participant decides not to go on a trip, they may receive a refund if they withdraw prior to November 21. If a participant withdraws after this date, they are responsible for paying the full trip cost (up to $1200), which will be charged to your student account if prompt payment is not received.

Trip Cancellations: Trip leaders are responsible for meeting deadlines for budgets and itineraries and for attending leader-training sessions. If these deadlines and obligations are not met, the trip may be canceled. The trip may also be canceled if the cost of the trip cannot be covered by fundraising efforts and participant payments. As the MAlt advisor, Community Engagement may also take steps to cancel a trip if leaders and/or participants do not demonstrate strong commitment to MAlt principles.

International Trips: All participants are responsible for holding adequate health coverage for the trip. Confirmed participants will receive information about purchasing health coverage for the duration of the trip if their own health insurance will not cover travel outside the U.S. ($64.65 for coverage).

February 2021 Trips

Six student-designed, student-led volunteer service trips take place over February Break. Costs are kept low to encourage all students to apply and financial aid is available to all participants.

See February 2020 Trip descriptions.

The February 2021 Trip Leader Application will be open until April 15, 2020.

Language in Motion Mini-MAlt October Break

As a collaboration with the Middlebury College Language in Motion program, the focus of the October trip is intercultural competence and education. Participants travel to the city of Barre, Vermont (the other side of the Green Mountains) to deliver presentations/workshops and lead activities in the local high school and career center. The aim is to increase the global awareness, intercultural understanding, and sensitivity of all involved. Trip participants will be expected to develop presentations and activities prior to the trip, and will be supported in doing so. Participants have the option of participating in the fall Language in Motion presenter training to support this process. Participants also have opportunities to volunteer with other community agencies and learn about the city of Barre. The participant application deadline for this trip opens in early fall.

Contact

Contact the MAlt Executive Board at middalt@middlebury.edu or MAlt director Kailee Brickner-McDonald at kbricknermcdonald@middlebury.edu.

Center for Community Engagement
20 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury, VT 05753

communityengagement@middlebury.edu
(802) 443-3580