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SCU offers alternative spring break trips

SANTA CLARA, Calif.- March 19, 2002- As some college students plan to spend spring break vacationing, 91 people from Santa Clara University prepare to participate in community service and faith-based missions both far and near.

This year, the University offers five immersion trips to East Palo Alto, El Salvador, Arizona, Tijuana, and East Los Angeles. Each trip concentrates on different levels of involvement from building homes for families to establishing relationships with community members. The trips begin this week.

Immersion experiences allow participants to explore current social, political, and cultural realities through direct service, experiential learning, and reflection. Participants live in the community they are visiting, sometimes in the homes of host families.

Four of the trips are part of a program sponsored and supervised by SCU's Center for Student Leadership (CSL) and coordinated by student leaders. The program offers delegates a chance to live and work in a marginalized community, to teach and to learn, and to help and be helped by relationships they develop.

"CSL believes that through immersion experiences our students will exhibit courage, character and respect for self and others. Students will also be challenged to examine their personal values, opinions and beliefs," said Linda Prieto, associate director, CSL.

The trip to the Dolores Mission in East Los Angeles is a faith-based trip organized through SCU's Campus Ministry.

Eight SCU undergraduates will spend time in East Palo Alto helping underrepresented youth realize their potential through tutoring grade school children, helping out at the Ecumenical Hunger Council, and teaching job skills. The students will also meet community leaders and develop relationships with community members. This is the second year for the trip.

"Instead of traveling to a far-away destination to experience another culture, this trip allows students to see the injustices that are occurring in their own backyard," said Kristin Love, director of Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP), a delegate on the East Palo Alto Immersion Trip.

The majority of the SCU students, 40, will travel to Tijuana, Mexico, to build two homes for families needing shelter. The group will work side-by-side with the families. Since the trip was first organized through SCCAP three years ago, 120 University students have participated in building nine homes.

10 students will travel to Guarjila, El Salvador, where heavy fighting occurred during the Salvadoran Civil War. 19 will spend time in West Valley, Arizona working on house building endeavors and reflecting on issues of poverty. 14 will go to East Los Angeles to the Dolores Mission.

The Dolores Mission is a Jesuit parish in East Los Angeles, whose parishioners take the initiative to address issues that challenge their community. During the seven-day trip, 10 SCU undergraduate students, one graduate student, one staff member and two campus ministers will learn about the community's response and service to homeless immigrant men, youth in juvenile hall, gang members, childcare needs, education, and more.

SCU graduate student Esther Ludlow, a wife and mother of two, is one of the participants on the trip. She is enrolled in the University's Counseling Psychology & Education program with an emphasis in correctional psychology.

"When I heard that SCU students were going to Dolores Mission over spring break I thought it would be a great opportunity to see these programs in action and experience the feel of a community that is doing so much for its own people," said Ludlow.

The immersion program includes both preparation and follow-up components. After the trips, participants take part in group reflection sessions, and independent study, which allows them to bring their immersion experience to the classroom.

As part of preparation, the delegates discuss a variety of issues pertinent to immersion experiences with SCU faculty during the winter quarter. Topics included the dynamics of participation-observation, the socio-economic implications of community development, the spiritual components of immersion and its implications for lifelong dedication to justice.

"We want the delegates to make both spiritual and intellectual connections before they leave for their excursion so they have a richer context to pull from when they return," said Patty Adams, associate director of SCCAP. "The student-run nature of the program, as well as the emphasis upon preparation and reintegration, is what sets SCU's immersion trips apart from others."

MEDIA: Call before noon on Thursday, March 21 to arrange interviews with delegates and trip coordinators, contact Kelly Shenefiel at 408-554-5125 or kshenefiel@scu.edu.

PHOTOS: At 1 p.m. on Friday, March 22, delegates on the Tijuana trip will gather on campus before their departure. For location information, contact Shenefiel at (408) 554-5125.

About the Center for Student Leadership (CSL)

The Center for Student Leadership was established in 1993 to provide Santa Clara University undergraduate students a resource center dedicated to enhancing leadership development opportunities. The center directly educates for leadership in the Jesuit tradition; the staff of scholar-practitioners provides programs and services that embrace the value of social justice, citizenship, ethical decision making, service to others and diversity. More information can be found online at www.scu.edu/csl.

About Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP)

SCCAP is in its 36th year as a student-run, University-chartered organization. It serves as the conduit for a number of activities that allow over 800 SCU students each year to participate in service, accompaniment, advocacy and direct action in a variety of contexts. Through 22 different programs, SCCAP volunteers assist a variety of communities and community-based organizations. SCCAP aims to embody the Jesuit mission of the University by providing students with opportunities for "reflective engagement with society and a commitment to fashioning a more humane and just world." More information can be found on line at www.scu.edu/sccap.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 7,400 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the third-highest graduation rate among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest higher education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

<p>Kristin Simms, '01, holds a boy named Jesus during her Spring Break in El Salvador last year.</p>

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