PC Students Spend Spring Break Serving Others
Hundreds Travel Across U.S., Overseas on Alternative Break Trips
Providence, R.I. — More than 240 students from Providence College will spend their Spring Break, March 12-16, on service trips to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, and a dozen U.S. cities, and in curriculum-related visits to Ecuador and Spain.
And for the first time, the cost of travel will be a little less for students who are participating in Alternative Spring Break trips offered through PC’s Feinstein Institute for Public Service.
Adrian G. Beaulieu, dean of the Center for International Studies, said World Learning and Service Engagement Grants totaling $58,000 were awarded to five groups traveling to the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. The grants, which offset the cost of the student trips, were provided through PC’s three-year agreement with Sovereign Bank/Santander Universities, which also makes Diversity Scholarship Grants available for study abroad.
The two courses that will take 17 students to Ecuador are The Global Community Lens, taught by Dr. Nicholas V. Longo ’96, associate professor of public and community service studies and director of the Global Studies Program, and Eric E. Sung, assistant professor of photography, and Peace and Justice, taught by Dr. Jeffrey D. Pugh, assistant professor of political science.
Students have been studying the theme “Visualizing Peace and Justice.” Community Lens students worked at Providence CityArts for Youth during February, teaching children ages 10-15 the basics of digital photography while also taking their photographs. In Quito, Ecuador, they will work with the Center for Mediation, Peace, and the Resolution of Conflict (CEMPROC), an organization founded by Pugh, and take photographs as well. Photos taken in both locations will be on display at Providence CityArts from April 9-20.
“We had taught the Community Lens course last year, which utilized photography as a way to understand and build community on a local level,” said Longo. “This year, we wanted to expand that to include the role of art in peace building and community building efforts globally.”
Creating international awareness
Alexandra Finn-Atkins ’12 (Springfield, Mass.), an English and Spanish double major, is looking forward to the Ecuador trip.
“We talked a lot about maintaining the dignity of the people that we’re photographing, not making them feel uncomfortable,” said Finn-Atkins. “It’s about creating an international awareness of the political situation of another country, and coming back to the United States with an awareness of how they live.”
“I want to speak with the Ecuadorians about their culture and their perception of the United States, and what kind of help they want and need,” she added. “I’d like to compare their political situation to our political situation, and the changes they want to see in their government.”
Another service trip sponsored by the Feinstein Institute will send 13 students to Peru, where they will work at an orphanage for girls in Lima and provide health education to women and children in Pachacutec. Their advisor is Dr. Edgar Mejía, assistant professor of Spanish.
“I’ve always been really involved in community service locally,” said Lauren O’Loughlin ’14 (Hopkinton, Mass.), a student leader for the trip. “I thought it would be really cool to take it to the international level and see the different lifestyles.”
It will be the first service trip for Belinda Soares ’13 (East Providence, R.I.), who lived in Cape Verde until she was 10.
“Where I’m from is very poor, too,” Soares said. “In a way this is a chance for me to give back and to do something in return.”
Travel at home and abroad
Other Alternative Spring Break destinations include:
• The Dominican Republic, where 23 students in two groups will teach English to children at schools and orphanages and work in a health clinic. The advisor is Dr. Joseph A. DeGeorgis, assistant professor of biology.
• Tijuana, Mexico, where eight students will build a home for a family in need and explore issues related to immigration and culture. They will be accompanied by Heather Whitney, service learning coordinator in the Feinstein Institute, and Stephanie Nunes, AmericaCorps VISTA representative.
• Barcelona, Spain, where 60 students in the Liberal Arts Honors Program (LAHP) and seven faculty -- including College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 -- will visit cultural and historical sites. They will also reunited with 16 PC students studying abroad in Spain this semester. LAHP students are invited to join an international trip each spring to enrich their academic studies. Father Shanley teaches honors philosophy in the program.
Habitat work in 12 locations
Students also will be busy with service work in the United States. Through Campus Ministry, 120 students will take part in Habitat for Humanity programs in a dozen locations.
Groups of 10 students each will build homes in Baltimore, Md.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Burlington, N.C.; Coatesville, Pa.; Concord, N.C.; Glade Spring, Va.; Lewisburg, W.Va.; Lexington, Va.; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Pittsboro, N.C.; Wilmington, Del., and York, Pa.
Some faculty will make service trips on their own. Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P., assistant professor of theology, and Dr. Paul L. Gondreau, professor of theology, along with Gondreau’s 15-year-old daughter, will volunteer in Haiti at an orphanage in a remote village in the mountains outside Port-au-Prince.
-- Vicki-Ann Downing