by Gabriella Pisano ’18
Typically, Spring Break is a time when you take a break from classes and relax. Whether you sit on the beach in the sun or go home to unwind, Spring Break is often seen as a time to leave the schoolwork behind. This is not so true for the students who took part in the two global service-learning trips over Spring Break.
The global service-learning trips correspond with classes that last the entire semester. This semester’s trips were to Tijuana, Mexico, and Guatemala.
The course that allowed students to travel to Tijuana is about global border crossing. “In the class, we studied the North American Free Trade Agreement. We discussed why people migrate. We learned about the history of borders and the experiences of people crossing those borders,” explained student Dee Auciello ’18. “GSL trips are so special because you come back and have the rest of the semester to reflect on what you just did with these people you’ve built foundations with.”
In the morning, students went to the work site where they helped build the foundation of a house. Later in the day they would visit different sites, such as the border that divides Tijuana and San Diego; Las Memorias, a non-profit which provides HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and LGBT services; and Casa Del Migrantes, an organization that houses people who have recently been deported or who are preparing to cross the border.
Discussing the challenges that she faced, Rachael Johnston ’18 stated, “The topic of immigration is very controversial and hard to grasp at some points, but after making personal connections with people who have been directly affected by policies or decisions made by the U.S. government, it was especially difficult for me to return home carrying the feeling that I haven’t done enough.”
Prior to traveling to Guatemala, students on this trip were educated about international trade, politics, and coffee culture. The Global Coffee Culture course focuses on exploring the societal, economic, and cultural implications of the coffee trade worldwide.
Explaining how this trip is unique, Karlene Cudak ’19 stated, “This trip wasn’t a traditional service trip because we didn’t do physical service while we were in Guatemala. Our service begins now and will continue after our semester ends because our class in armed with a great amount of knowledge and stories from this trip, which we will continue to use to improve our consumer activities while trying to better those of the people around us as well.”
While students who participated in these trips took a break from the classroom, they continued to learn through their service and immersion into the cultures of the places they visited.
“There is no possible way to learn what we learned and experienced in Guatemala in a traditional classroom setting,” explained Cudak.
While this is not what most would consider a typical “Spring Break experience,” students who participated in these trips seem to agree that they would not have wanted to spend Spring Break any other way.
Johnston, who traveled to Tijuana for the global service-learning trip for the second time, stated, “I would say that it is absolutely a worthwhile Spring Break trip. Not only are students immersing themselves in a different culture and being pushed out of their comfort zones, they are making relationships with other PC students they might not have known otherwise and have the chance to learn about a very important issue first hand from people being affected by it.”