Alternative Spring Break

Students Serve Others, Build Friendships During Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break

Date published: March 22, 2016

Some students were veterans of the program; others had heard about the amazing experience from friends who’d gone in previous years; and some simply felt called to serve. Whatever initially drew people to Alternative Spring Break (ASB), however, the consensus seems to be that they could not have chosen a better group of people with whom to participate.

This year, 17 students and two campus ministers traveled to McAllen, Texas, located on the Rio Grande across from the Mexican city of Reynosa. They divided their time between helping construct houses on a building site, Proyecto Azteca, and working at a Catholic Charities refugee center that provides single parents and their children with food, clothing, friendly conversation and a place to shower.

“I’ve been on mission trips before,” said biology major Kathleen Miller, BA ’17, “but never before with a group of people who bonded with each other so fast and so well.”

Thomas Hogan, BA ’19 (who will likely double-major in philosophy and classics), concurred: “There was a real sense of working together, collaborating, as a community. Whether we were hanging drywall or wiping down tables, we were doing it as a team, not as individuals.”

For the ASB students, seeing the communities they served was also a rewarding part of the experience.

“McAllen has some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the U.S.,” said classical philology major Zachary Foust, BA ’17, who also participated in ASB his freshman year. “We expected desolation, but the people were very welcoming and happy to see us; you could tell they liked having us there.”

The group stayed at a Lutheran church, where they also felt very welcomed; after their arrival on the first day, they were given a tour of the border and the neighborhoods or “colonias,” as well as a three-hour information session during which they were apprised of the situation there.

“There are a lot of very rural, unincorporated areas in that county,” said Foust. “They have to maintain their own septic systems. One is located right by a landfill. We didn’t visit those, but some of the houses we were working on will be sent to those places.”

The houses themselves are built by professionals with the assistance of the families who will be residing in them, who are able to get no-interest mortgages in exchange for their labor.

One day, the group served at a St. Vincent de Paul Society soup kitchen. On the last day, the students threw a party for the children in one of the colonias.

As far as their work at the refugee center, they enjoyed talking to the families and getting to know a little of their stories. Foust learned that one family was actually heading to Alabama, where he’s from.

“There’s only so much you can actually do in a week,” said Hogan. “The work was very well-planned; we got to experience different aspects of different types of service.”

“It was wonderful to bond together while serving others,” said Miller.

The chosen Bible verse for the week was John 17:21: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”

“We had a real sense of that,” said Hogan.

Photos courtesy of Kathleen Miller and Campus Minister Nicholas Lopez.

News

Professor Applies Lessons Learned from Autistic Sons to All Life

Former Affiliate Assistant Professor of Spanish Nicole (Hammerschmidt) Lasswell, BA '03, and her husband, Martin, have two sons, Will and Stevie, both of whom have autism. For World Autism Awareness Day, the family was interviewed on Telemundo; because the boys are thriving, it seemed particularly important to the Lasswells to share their story and their hope with others.

+ Read More

Alumnae Unpack Dense Theological Concepts, Aim to Impact Culture

The first time Monica Ashour, MTS '95 MH '04, read St. John Paul II's "Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body" was in 2000 with a small, grassroots group of parents and teachers, including DeAnn (Barta) Stuart, Ph.D., BA '98 MH '04, and Annie (Duffin) Vining, MTh '03. This group went on to found The Theology of the Body Evangelization Team Inc. (TOBET) on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2001.

+ Read More

University of Dallas Names New Vice President for Advancement

UD is pleased to announce the appointment of Jason Wu Trujillo as its new vice president for university advancement. Trujillo currently serves as chief development officer and director of the Honor the Future campaign at the University of Virginia (UVA) Law School Foundation, which conducts alumni relations, external affairs, fundraising and endowment management for the benefit of the UVA School of Law. He begins his new role at the end of June.

+ Read More