Alternative spring break a unique option for students

By: Elisa Juliano

February 27, 2013

Spring break is right around the corner, and while some have chosen to spend their vacations relaxing, others are offering a helping hand. Each year Dominican offers students a chance to participate in an alternative break immersion trip.

Last year senior James Johnson traveled to Atlanta an immersion trips. Eleven participants on this specific trip worked with immigrants and refugees for about a week.

“I wanted to help people and get involved with campus ministry,” Johnson said.

Johnson and participants helped tutored students from all over the world. He expressed that after getting done with the day’s activity he was able to get to know the people he was working with.

“After helping them with reading, they would tell us stories about growing up, why they liked America and why they didn’t, and stuff about their families,” Johnson said.

Matt Palkert from University Ministry helps coordinate the alternative break immersion program. He expressed that participants are always surprised about “the sense of community they form in such a short time.”

Palkert explained that two weeks after the trip students meet again for a re-orientation. The re-orientation is like a reunion for the participants according to Palkert.

“One thing that happens from the ABI trips is the students really miss the group. They form a tight bond,” Palkert said.

Johnson expressed how going on the trip brought him and the other participants closer together.

“I knew I was going to get to know everyone but I never expected to get that close with people, it was rare and amazing,” said Johnson.

Students who have gone on the immersion trip seem to truly have benefited from the trip, but admit that the feeling was not immediate.

“For a while I didn’t feel too good because I felt really privileged like my life was shining and white, while these people were struggling so badly and they were good honest people,” Johnson said.

Johnson also expressed that the experience humbled him and made him more empathetic. Before when he saw a homeless person for example he would think “this is your life and you did things to get you there.” The trip made him realize that some things are “beyond our control.”

Dominican is offering two alternative break immersion trips this spring break. One is in Atlanta, Georgia the other is in Kansas City, Missouri.