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Group of students/volunteers at alternative winter break event.

Alternative Winter Break

Alternative Winter Break (AWB) offers one international trip and one domestic trip where participants strengthen communities.

These trips, occurring during the academic winter break, focus on many different social issues like education, affordable housing, environmental, and much more. Students learn to become citizens of the world through strong direct service and reflection. They also connect with other students who are looking to make a difference.

Students who are selected to serve on the trips participate in biweekly pre-trip meetings throughout fall semester to learn about the social issues involved, as well as the language and culture of the communities they will be serving (on international trips). Students also receive a free day during each trip to explore the local communities and enjoy the sites!

Please note that all international trips require a valid passport. If you are an international student, please research the visa/travel requirements as needed.

2024 Trips

Applications have closed.

All applicants for international trips must have a reference form filled out by an ISU staff or faculty member, a graduate assistant, or a student staff member (such as an RA or student manager) to be considered for participation. Please have your reference fill out this form. Thank you!


January 3-13, 2024 (date is tentative and will be confirmed soon). Redbirds will travel to Costa Rica to serve in a rural community outside of San Miguel de Sarapiquí. The group will stay with a host family nearby the service site. Service may include building cement stoves, repairing porches, building stairs, and much more. The group will have two free days which may include a visit to a local hot spring, a tour of a coffee farm, or zip lining.

This trip has reached its full capacity. Applications are closed.


January 6-13, 2024. Redbirds will travel to Salina, Kansas to serve with Ashby House. Their mission is to restore hope to individuals and families facing homelessness or housing instability by breaking the cycle of poverty and addiction. Service work may include cleaning, painting, yard work, and interaction with clients. There will be free time to explore the area and participate in activities such as a tour of the town.

Applications are available here.