New Orleans, Nicaragua to host alternative spring break students

By on March 7, 2007

While many Quinnipiac students will be soaking in the sun and relaxing poolside during spring break, more than 50 students will travel across the country and abroad to volunteer in poor and disaster-stricken communities next week.

“It’s a vacation in itself as well as a life-learning experience,” said Jaclyn Trojanowski, a senior social services major. “I don’t think any other vacation can replace that.”

Trojanowski, the student-leader of the trip, will lead a group of 25 students to Nicaragua to build three outhouses and a kitchen, and to work on a project to bring running water to the community.

“I hope to see a positive impact that will be everlasting for our students,” said Trojanowski, who will be making her sixth trip to Nicaragua. “I would love for them to bring what they learn on this trip back to Quinnipiac and our surrounding areas.”

The Albert Schweitzer Institute helped organize and support the annual trip to Nicaragua.

“My first experience in Nicaragua was 27 years ago,” said David Ives, the executive director of the institute. “It was an exhilarating and dangerous time. Since then, things have actually gotten worse. We go down to help them, and, so our students learn what is going on outside of their world.”

Three other groups of Quinnipiac students will be taking humanitarian trips. Christian Fellowship, a spiritual and community service group at Quinnipiac, will be sending six students to New Orleans to help rebuild houses that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The group also hopes to comfort people who were psychologically affected by the hurricane’s devastation.

“Hopefully, everyone will get a chance to interact and get to know the people down there – possibly getting into some spiritual conversations,” said Ashley Langley, a senior nursing major and the president of Christian Fellowship at Quinnipiac. “This trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Senior marketing major Kevin Currie, a member of Christian Fellowship, knows what he wants to get out of his opportunity to help the city in need.

“I’d like to make a difference. We’ll be trying to make a difference down there, whether it is rebuilding houses or rebuilding lives.”

Another group of students will also be heading to New Orleans in a trip organized through the Office of Community Service. Vincent Contrucci, the director of Community Service at Quinnipiac, will be leading a group of nine students to the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where they will work in a soup kitchen.

The Office of Community Service has also organized a trip to Beattyville, Ky. There, Residence Hall directors Brian Amero and Felicity Melillo will lead a group of 15 students in helping the Lee County Habitat for Humanity. The group will do mostly construction projects during their eight-day stay.

Although the cost of the trip to places like Nicaragua is $1,000, which is quite expensive for the average college student, students who have already been on such trips feel that the experience itself is worth a lot more.

“What I feel when I am serving those I can now call part of my family in Nicaragua is indescribable,” Trojanowski said. “I know for me, the delegations have truly changed my life and perspective on life, and I love to share this with other Quinnipiac students.”

Similarly, Trojanowski challenges her fellow students to “step out of their comfort zones and experience something different” by volunteering one’s time and labor on a humanitarian trip.

“Little did I know this trip would change my life forever. And it truly has the potential to do that for everyone,” Trojanowski said. “Once you see the suffering and social injustices taking place, the feeling of wanting to help those in need becomes contagious.”

Each of the groups embarking on the alternative spring break trips plans to leave either March 9 or March 10, and return on March 17.


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