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Students seek out service

Irena Zajickova | Thursday, March 5, 2009

Next week, while their classmates jet off to exotic locales, spend time at home or remain on campus, some Notre Dame students will spend their spring breaks serving others by participating in one of the many service programs offered by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns.

According to Connie Snyder Mick, the assistant director of the Center of Social Concerns, a total of 240 students will be participating in spring break service programs.

The Appalachia seminar focuses on the problems facing the people who reside in the Appalachian Mountains. Each site offers a different slate of activities for the week – students can help with anything from home repair to helping teach children about environmental conservation.

The Children and Poverty Seminar takes place in New York City. The seminar focuses on the lives of youth affected by poverty, with a focus on community outreach, education and prevention.

The Environmental Justice and Human Rights in the Aftermath of Katrina seminar examines how impoverished Louisiana communities were affected by the hurricane from a theological and environmental standpoint.

The Cultivating Community: Faith, Culture and Work seminar sends students to Coachella, Calif. to work alongside Priests of the Holy Cross aiding people afflicted by economic challenges.

The L’Arche seminar has two locations: Washington, D.C. and Toronto, Canada. L’Arche communities provide a place for people with disabilities to live and work alongside other people with disabilities. The seminar provides students with the opportunity to see how living in such a community has influenced members.

The Migrant Experience focuses on the social issues involved with migrant farm labor. Students will travel to Immokalee, Fla. to gain a firsthand look at these issues.

The Changing the Face of American Healthcare seminar will send students to Washington, D.C. to examine the declining health care system by visiting government agencies and health care organizations.

No matter which seminar they choose, all Notre Dame students participating are looking forward to spending a week helping others.

Junior Michelle Romeu will spend next week helping teach high school students at the David School in David, Ky. She is looking forward to spending her spring break doing something worthwhile.

“After having a really fun fall break when I was abroad, I felt like I should do something productive for this break,” she said.

Sophomore Lindsey McAlarnen is participating in the L’Arche seminar. She said she is looking forward to broadening her horizons and forming connections both with the people she will meet at the site and her fellow students.

“I’m going on the trip because I want to do something meaningful with my spring break, experience something new and meet new people,” she said.

McAlarnen is giving up a week at home in sunny Florida to travel to Toronto to volunteer, but she said that the experience is worth it.

“I’m missing out on being warm,” she said. “But in the long run, this experience will definitely be worth it.”