Volunteering with Alternative Winter Break Tahiti
By Christine Ahlstrom, Class of 2011
My name is Christine Ahlstrom and I graduated from Santa Clara in 2011 (BA Communication, minor in French and Francophone Studies.) I just wanted to give you a brief update about an amazing experience I had over winter break that was both extremely challenging and enriching. I participated in what's called "Alternative Winter Break" at the University of Southern California, where I currently work as an academic advisor for the Health Promotion and Global Health Programs.
I volunteered as the Alternative Winter Break Tahiti advisor and took a group of 16 USC students to Tahiti for a 10 day cultural and environmental preservation trip. We participated in various service trips throughout the island, including an ocean clean up, weeding taro fields, clearing out invasive plants (Miconia) which harm the native plants, cooking and serving a traditional Tahitian meal to underprivileged families, etc. We learned traditional Tahitian cooking, dance and song, and received the most tremendous hospitality from the Tahitian people we met, including the host families we stayed with for two nights. We met the mayors of two towns, Vaira'o and Teahupo'o, which houses the Billabong Pro Tahiti Surf Competition every year.
We were interviewed by multiple news stations and reporters, and were on the evening news.
We were interviewed by the paper, La Depeche de Tahiti - see attached. I am interviewed in the paper (bottom right) and also spoke on the news.
This experience changed me and I thought you might like to hear about it. :) I would like to thank the Santa Clara French department, in particular Dr. Montfort and Professor Tanti, for improving my French speaking skills (I spoke French every day while in Tahiti, and often acted as a translator) and the Santa Clara community, for teaching me to be a global citizen.