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Embrace the city

Heather Hyland, Colleen King | Monday, September 27, 2010

Football weekends, dorm events, fall break, Halloween, Thanksgiving and spending time with friends make fall a special and exciting time at Notre Dame. As we bring out winter coats for the 60 degree weather, we find ourselves dreading the imminent end of fall and start of winter. However, winter is full of many wonderful opportunities as well, such as the first snowball fight on the quad, seasonal Starbucks drinks, the holiday spirit and the chance to participate in the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) Urban Plunge.

In the middle of our preoccupation with the changing weather, football, police officers and impossible exams, the Urban Plunge offers a unique message to students: embrace the city. Last week, the Census Bureau announced that in 2009, 43.6 million people were living in poverty, up from 39.8 million in 2008. The official poverty rate in 2009 (14.3%, up from 13.2% in 2008) was the highest poverty rate since 1994.

It is difficult to comprehend the harsh reality experienced by millions of people living in poverty around the country when we live on such a beautiful campus. Our cities are hurting, yet they often go unnoticed. The Urban Plunge offers us the ability to do something about urban poverty.

Every year, 180 students choose to see the face of their city in a new light. They participate in a 48-hour immersion in one of over 40 cities that offer an Urban Plunge around the country. In addition to the immersion, they attend four classes on urban poverty, which complement the experiential component of the course.

The Urban Plunge application becomes available on the CSC website this week. Take a minute away from Facebook to check it out and consider what it would be like to really embrace the city this year: to embrace the poor, the marginalized and the forgotten; to embrace the friendships, the awakening and the solidarity; to embrace the potential for change. Take advantage of this meaningful and memorable experience, and make this winter break one that will leave a lasting impression.

Heather Hyland


off campus

Colleen King


Cavanaugh Hall

Sep. 26