The Alternative Breaks program from the Pam Rector Center for Service and Action will expand trips to include domestic and international opportunities for students to become global citizens during the 2022-23 academic year. This year’s cultural immersions allow students to travel to West Virginia, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Morocco during spring and summer breaks.
One of the signature parts of an Alternative Breaks trip is students travel to a different part of the country or world to have a direct cultural immersion learning experience paired with a focus on a social justice issue. This enriched experience allows students to dip their feet into a new culture and find an issue they are passionate about or want to learn more about.
This year’s trip options include:
- spring break, Feb. 25-March 4:
- Appalachia, West Virginia
- Belize City, Belize
- San Salvador, El Salvador
- Costa Rica
- Puerto Rico
- summer break, May 8-18:
- Rabat, Morocco
One of the newest options for students this year is the opportunity to travel to Belize City, Belize, where the team will be working in partnership with St. John’s College, a Jesuit community college. The AB program has visited Belize in past years, but this will be the first year working with St. John’s. Students who are interested in participating in the AB program are required to attend one of three informational sessions hosted by CSA this week:
- Tuesday, Sept. 6, The Living Room, 6-7 p.m. PDT
- Wednesday, Sept. 7, The Living Room, 7-8 p.m. PDT
- Thursday, Sept. 8, The Living Room, 8-9 p.m. PDT
If you cannot join one of the informational sessions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a Zoom/in-person appointment to learn more about AB.
Someone who knows how impactful this type of cultural immersion experience is firsthand is AB’s newest staff member, Jenni Mendez ’19, assistant director of Alternative Breaks and advocacy. Mendez joined the CSA team this summer and might be familiar to some at LMU: she worked with the Academic Resource Center and the First To Go program from 2017-19 while earning her master’s degree in higher education administration at LMU School of Education. She then went to work in study abroad, working in Boston as well as on location in Greece. Mendez also recently completed a Fulbright in Romania.
“I would love to see more students take advantage of cultural immersion opportunities earlier in their student experience because it not only benefits them in helping them learn about social justice issues,” said Mendez, “but it can also help our campus community grow as those lessons, cultures, and ideas are returned to our community. Students can go on these trips and bring those experiences back to the classroom, their student organizations, or even their families and friends to share their experience and create conversations around social justice issues.”
Mendez, who is passionate about supporting first-generation students to engage in educational experiences abroad, is pursuing her Ed.D. in higher education at USC. She has participated in many cultural immersion travel experiences herself during her time at LMU, including traveling with the First To Go program to the Dominican Republic. When she had the chance to go on an AB trip, she opted to go to Haiti in 2019, but because of CDC restrictions the trip was switched to the Dominican Republic. Mendez had the chance to meet Haitian partners and learn about social justice issues surrounding the garment industry. “To this day, I am still mindful of where I purchase my clothing and look for options to thrift clothing because of my experiences on this trip.”