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The Alternative Spring Break for Students

Spring break is a relaxing time for many faculty, staff, and students, but for others, it’s another week of learning, reflecting, and even volunteering. Just ask freshman Laura Snowden who spent her week helping to rebuild homes in New Orleans.

“I continue to go back to New Orleans every year, because there are families still living in trailers and living without running water, so they need my help.” says Snowden, a sociology major from Seattle.

Scott Ahlstrom, a senior studying philosophy, didn’t go home to Chicago or jump on a plane to a sunny beach after he was done with his finals. Instead, he led 13 students to San Francisco’s Tenderloin District to gain a better understanding of life for the homeless.

“There isn’t a single face to homelessness. I saw mothers, children, veterans, and men in business suits on their way to work,” says Ahlstrom.

Melissa Flores spent her week in Los Angeles, shadowing SCU alumni who are in the film industry, so she could get a head start on her dream career when she graduates in 2011.

“I learned that being persistent is necessary in order to get a job in the film/entertainment industry because so many other people have the same career goals as I do,” says Flores, a junior who hopes to be a director or screenwriter.

These three students had three very different spring breaks, but one common theme seems to be cropping up around campus. Rather than spending their time sleeping in and vegging out, they’re expanding their minds or their hearts or making an impact on people’s lives.

Matt Smith from Campus Ministry, who helps organize immersion trips, joined the group visiting marginalized communities in Los Angeles. He says he often sees students undergo a life-changing experience as they meet with the homeless and former gang members.

“What I want students to do is to make a connection between the head, the heart, and the feet,” says Smith, a campus minister. “They place themselves in areas that challenge them and make them feel uncomfortable. Then, they reflect on that experience and community, and analyze it. Ideally, there could be some further analysis and action that later develops from that experience.”

Other immersion trips other SCU students took were to Baja, Mexico; Nogales, Mexico; West Virginia; Tuba City, Ariz.; and the Central Valley.

Watch a slideshow of the Baja, Mexico immersion trip.

Watch a slideshow of the Central Valley immersion trip.

Watch a slideshow of the last day of the San Francisco immersion trip.

Watch a slideshow of the 4th day of the San Jose immersion trip.

Watch a slideshow of the alumni job shadowing in Los Angeles.

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