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Alternative Spring Breaks

Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2012

Kolvenbach Immersions with the Ignatian Center: Tucson, Arizona

Each year Santa Clara students, faculty, staff, and alumni embark on various immersion experiences in El Salvador, Ecuador, Mexico, and parts of the US through the Kolvenbach Solidarity Program, named after Peter Hans Kolvenbach, SJ. Of these immersions during the summer, winter, and spring, the majority take place during spring break, where seven student groups travel all across the United States to Appalachia, West Virginia; Los Angeles, California; Navajo Nation (Tuba City, Arizona); New Orleans, Louisiana; San Francisco, California; San Jose, California; and Tucson, Arizona.

Each of the spring break immersions are led by SCU students who have gone on previous trips. These Immersion Coordinators lead pre-immersion meetings with their individual teams during the winter quarter. Clare Louie, a senior Accounting and Environmental Studies major, led the immersion to Tucson and says these pre-immersion meetings “give us the chance to get to know each other through fun activities and learn about the trip's background through readings and discussions.”

According to the Ignatian Center, the more than ten immersion experiences offered by the Ignatian Center are “designed to help participants see the world with new eyes, to recognize the unjust suffering of marginalized communities and individuals, and to allow those experiences to inform their vocational discernment.” If students are interested in one of the Ignatian Center’s summer, winter, or spring immersion programs in the future, students who have just returned from their spring break immersion experiences would be great resources to connect with.

SCU Global Medical Brigades: Panama

A group consisting of Santa Clara students, faculty, and two volunteer doctors traveled to East Panama over spring break to provide health services such as medical, pharmaceutical, and dental care to marginalized communities.

Santa Clara Global Medical Brigades is one of nearly 400 Brigades nationwide that prepare for this experience by fundraising, finding donors, and collecting medication/medical supplies. The Global Brigades are one of the world’s largest student-led organizations based upon social responsibility, sustainable development, and public health.

Mackenzie Zorkin '13, President of the Global Medical Brigades chapter at SCU, has made the trip to Central America, and she loves the hands-on aspect of the experience. “It's important for people to see how others outside of Santa Clara, or more generally the U.S., live their daily lives in comparison to ours," she says. "This trip is a great opportunity for those who have yet to experience between our worlds.”

If students are interested in serving with SCU Global Medical Brigades in the future, please email Mackenzie Zorkin at for more information on how to get involved! Applications for the next year’s trip are available in the fall.

SCU Global Business Brigades: Panama

This year SCU students created their own Global Business Brigades chapter to participate in micro-finance work in Panama over spring break. Seven students, studying both business and other fields, traveled to Panama for a week to consult micro-enterprises in a rural community called Torti Abajo.

Business Brigades volunteers work with rural communities and provide educational, financial, and organizational resources necessary to sustainably drive their own economic development. The business brigade volunteers serve as a catalyst to loan borrowers and provide financial workshops to various families and businesses in order to improve financial literacy. Between the brigades that come from various universities, the in-country team maintains relationships with the community bank and borrowers to provide follow-up and measure outcomes.

If students are interested in participating in future Global Business Brigades please contact or the Leavey School of Business for more information.

SCU Athletes Volunteer with Here for Kids International: Dominican Republic

SCU Athlete Playing with Kids in the Dominican RepublicStudent athletes Tanya Shmidt (Women’s Volleyball), Megan Anders (Women’s Volleyball), Kyle Nadel (Men's Water Polo), and Lexi Rubattino (Womens Soccer) went to the Dominican Republic to work with the organization Here for Kids International. During this trip they worked in Constanza at a school called El Arca (The Arc), a school for underprivileged kids living in the town. Attached to the school is an orphanage for kids who were abandoned, given up, or were not being cared for by their parents. The orphans go to school with the other children, learn all of the same subjects, study the Bible, and learn to play different sports.

The SCU athletes were joined by 13 other athletes from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, UCSD, and several other California schools. For part of the day they worked on construction, digging the foundation of a house, which a family helping to run the complex will eventually live in, and the other time was spent playing with the kids, teaching them soccer and volleyball, and participating in playground games.

"Kolvenbach Immersions with the Ignatian Center: Tucson, Arizona" and "SCU Global Medical Brigades: Panama" by Michelle Tang, '13 Sustainability Intern -- Student Initiatives
"SCU Global Business Brigades: Panama" by Elizabeth Hart, '12 Sustainability Intern -- Faculty and Staff
"SCU Athletes Volunteer with Here for Kids International: Dominican Republic" by Megan Anders, '14 Sustainability Intern -- Athletics

Tags: Centers of Distinction, Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, Program Highlights, Student Life, Take Action, Volunteer



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