"Amazing Breaks" Alternative Spring Break Experience
Students are exposed to different social, cultural, and economic situations in the United States while contributing to the community in which they work. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a transformative experience through encounters with the poor, cross-cultural communication, action, and reflection. Trips take place during spring break and in May after graduation. Open to all classes.
Past service sites:
Christian Appalachian Project - Lancaster, KY
Habitat for Humanity Intercollegiate Challenge - various sites
Urban Plunge - New York City
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary - Kanab, UT
Camp Restore - New Orleans, LA
Contact: Wylie Smith Blake, ext. 2668
The Office of Campus Ministry has had a long tradition of offering students the opportunity to spend time in other countries to learn about the realities, hopes, and struggles of those living in situations of economic, political, or social marginalization.
The goal of the International Service and Immersion programs is for student participants to deepen their relationships with God through:
- Sharing in the lives of those living in poverty through short-term service projects and living experiences
- Reflecting critically on issues of faith and justice
- Being exposed to the wonderful diversity of God's creations through an encounter with those living in a culture different from their own
- Offering their skills, resources, and gifts for the purpose of creating a more just and loving world
Service and Immersion trips typically occur during the semester breaks in January and May, and sometimes over spring break in March.
The application process for participants begins several months prior to each trip's departure date, and the commitment continues for several months after each trip's return. This allows for weekly meetings, retreats, fundraising events, speakers, and in-services - opportunities to make connections through local service work and many awareness-building events.
Jocelyn E. Collen, M.Div., ext. 2767
March 22-March 30, 2014
Fairfield University Students will be hosted by an organization called Rostro de Cristo. Rostro de Cristo (Face of Christ) was founded in 1988 by a priest from the Archdiocese of Boston named Fr. Jim Ronan. Rostro de Cristo is centrally located in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and its mission is to “to challenge young people to follow the example of Jesus by living and working among the poor, and by recognizing the face of Christ in them. Rostro de Cristo fulfills its spiritual and educational mission in two ways: by offering volunteer and retreat experiences to young adults from the United States, while also supporting various education, health and other social service projects in Ecuador.” (www.rostrodecristo.org)
Our visit to Rostro de Cristo will be carefully guided by the U.S. volunteers who have committed to living and volunteering in Ecuador for at least one year. Our group will “live in a retreat house designed and built for the program within the neighborhoods of Guayaquil. Emphasis is placed on being with members of the local community rather than doing for them, building relationships and developing a greater understanding of the reality of Ecuadorians, through visits and dialogue.” We will spend time with our neighbors, the people of Durán, who will welcome us into their communities as we share in their daily lives, activities, and programs. We will share the tasks of cooking, cleaning, and shopping for our meals. (http://www.rostrodecristo.org/retreats)
For more information about Rostro de Cristo and our retreat experience, please visit their website www.rostrodecristo.org
While in-country, Fairfield University Students will partner with the Working Boy's Center, a family-centered total development program, geared towards providing education, vocational training and life-skills development for the working children of Quito and their families.
Founded in 1964 to address the educational needs of boys working on the streets shining shoes, the WBCs objective has been to eliminate poverty among working children and their families. To date, over 6,000 families or around 30,000 people have left poverty forever as a result of the Working Boys' Center program. In 2007, the Working Boys' Center commissioned an external study of the impact of operations on its beneficiaries. The results concluded that the WBC method has successfully inserted 75% of its graduates into society and the labor market, due to the integral education received at the WBC.
While partnering with the work and accompaniment of the WBC, program participants will have the opportunity to engage with a variety of programs and projects, including teaching with year-long volunteers, working in the center's workshop, dispensary, soup kitchen and surrounding mission stations, as well as working to build a house for a local family in a community-sponsored program called a "minga." Through their work and daily living, participants will be immersed in the daily reality of center, eating meals with the children and their families, and spending time learning their stories.
Participants will also have an opportunity to meet with the community leaders and learn about the hopes and struggles, as well as the rich cultural heritage of Quito, a UNESCO World-Heritage Site, through participation in a variety of cultural and immersive excursions. Participants will share in community-based activities to maintain the living quarters such as shopping at the market, cooking and cleaning and participants will stay in the Center's primary house, located on the Center's main campus, on the outskirts of Quito. The sights, sounds, and experience will help each participant realize what it means to live in Quito, and be a member of the Center's "Family of Families." Some knowledge of Spanish is helpful, but not necessary.
The Working Boy's Center
The Working Boys' Center, a "Family of Families," is a joint social-work of the Jesuits and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This unique family development movement focuses all its attention on working children and their families. The Center has many programs to achieve its goals of helping the poor become agents of their own prosperity and the prosperity of others.
Family of Families
The strength of a society depends on the welfare of the whole family. All members of the families of the working boys receive the benefits provided by the WBC and learn a technical profession. In this way they contribute to the elimination of unemployment, one of the determining factors of poverty.
The Ten Values and programs to achieve the goals are:
- Personal formation
The family is the essential component of the WBC, which seeks to strengthen mutual respect and solidarity of the family and the community. There are weekly meetings directed at personal formation and strengthening families so that they may become agents of their own prosperity. Service to the community is an important aspect of formation. Each member participates two hours daily in "family activities" aimed at strengthening commitment in this area. Consolidation of religious formation is helped by daily Eucharistic celebrations, faith sharing groups, and opportunities for annual reflection or "retreat experiences." Sunday community mingas strengthen the commitment to the neighborhood. This program focuses on helping one another to build better housing and basic neighborhood services. Budgeting and savings programs promote financial planning and putting money aside for housing and other family needs.
Program participants will travel to Kingston, Jamaica where they will immerse themselves in the urban reality of Jamaican life. They will serve primarily at several different outreach ministries, including a state-run orphanage, a Sisters of Charity home for the sick and dying, a low-income community vocational center, and a home for children who are severely disabled. Through these ministries participants will have an opportunity to spend direct time with the poor and suffering of Jamaica, learn about the realities of their lives, and bear witness to their struggle.
Participants will also learn about the larger context within which the Jamaican issues are situated. Participants will attend a number of speakers on the social, economic, and spiritual issues currently at play in Jamaica, including the devastating effect of Jamaica's international debt and the world market, and the violence that has resulted from a number of deeply seated social issues. Additionally, participants will have an opportunity to bear witness to the vibrant cultural life of Jamaica, and a number of Jamaican-based community development projects.
Mission of Jamaica Volunteer Foundation (JVF)
The Mission of the JVF is to provide an international volunteer service opportunity for U.S. university students on the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean. The Program is designed to give the students an exposure to another culture, working with those of the greatest need.
The program is also designed to provide support and assistance to the residents and staff of the various placement sites in Kingston, Jamaica. Volunteers will work with the elderly, the young, and others who are disadvantaged.
- Lead a simple lifestyle
- Build an intentional Christian community
- Be in relationship with the Jamaican people and reflect on the face of Christ in their joys and struggles
- Work with the Jamaican people to find long-term solutions to the problems of poverty and together seek opportunities to improve the lives of the people
JVF participants are thus witnesses to the Gospel and a source of hope and light in the community. These experiences inspire life-long commitments to service, social justice, and solidarity with the people of Jamaica and the world.
Primary Sites for Participant Service
The Jamaica Volunteer participants will work at one or at several Catholic social service sites in Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica. Volunteers work with the elderly, the young, those with disabilities, or in need.
- Missionaries of Charity Home
Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity have a home for elderly and homeless in a poor urban area of downtown Kingston. Volunteers would assist with feeding, cleaning, and bathing, shaving of the men, sweeping, and miscellaneous tasks. There is also a need to visit and to spend quality time talking with and listening to the residents.
- St. Margaret's Community Center
St. Margaret's Community Center is run by the St. Patrick's Foundation and is located in a poor urban area of Kingston. It has a school for at-risk primary and high school children, including pregnant teenagers with a nursery; a sewing shop for young women and a woodwork shop for young boys; a health clinic; and a dining area which serves meals for local elderly. Volunteers would assist at any or all of the areas which includes teaching and tutoring, assisting to serve meals and wash dishes, and helping as needed at the health clinic.
- Pre-Primary School at Riverton City
There is a small pre-primary school located in an economically poor area known as "Riverton City," a shanty town built on and next to the old Kingston city dump. The school is located on a fenced compound and is a small four-classroom cement building, with an attached a health clinic for people of the area. There is also a vocational training center in a separate building. Volunteers would primarily teach and serve as teacher's aides for the small children of the school or assist in games and sports activities. Volunteers could also help at the Health Clinic or at the vocational center, if it is open.
- St. Monica's Home
St. Monica's is a home run by the St. Patrick's Foundation located on the Mandela Highway in an area near Spanishtown, outside of Kingston. It is a home for the elderly and for victims of Hanson's disease (leprosy). Volunteers would assist in feeding, cleaning and sweeping, writing letters, and talking with and listening to the elderly residents.
In the past volunteers have been asked at the various sites to help in serving meals, washing or shaving, entertaining or writing letters, tutoring or physical education/ sports, health clinic assistance, and physical labor (painting, building, cleaning, etc.).
May 26 - June 8, 2014
Nicaragua, the "land of lakes and volcanoes," is known for its natural beauty. Its three main regions present a diversity of settings: the Pacific region offers lakes, volcanoes, tropical forests, and ocean beaches; the mountainous central region is home to coffee plantations and rivers; and the coastline of the Atlantic region boasts rainforests and coral reefs.
Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, is home to the Universidad Centroamericana, a Jesuit University very similar to Fairfield University. While in Nicaragua, Ignatian Solidarity Corps program participants will partner with the UCA and have the opportunity to work with communities in the city of Managua. Partnering with the UCA under the direction of the In-Country Director, participants will have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the urban reality of Nicaraguan life. In the spirit of accompaniment, participants will work with a community building project, an outreach project and a health and wellness project. Through living and working in Managua, participants will also have an opportunity to spend time with people who are economically marginalized in Nicaragua, and learn about the realities of their lives, and bear witness to their struggle while assisting them to meet their daily needs.
Fairfield University maintains a special relationship with the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA). Founded in 1960 by the Jesuits, UCA's mission is to prepare young people for leadership roles in the development of their country. With that in mind, this program offers students an opportunity to understand the challenges facing Nicaraguans as they confront issues of poverty, economic competitiveness, and infrastructure development, and offers insights into Nicaragua's relationship with world powers and trading partners. The program provides students with a transforming experience, develops awareness of social justice issues, and prepares them for committed citizenship.
Participants will also learn about the larger context within which the Nicaraguan issues are situated and attend several presentations on the social, economic, and spiritual issues currently at play in Nicaragua, including the devastating effect of the civil war of the 1980s and the challenges that have resulted from many social issues. Additionally, participants will have an opportunity to work with the micro-finance and development programs of the UCA, and learn about how Nicaraguans are responding to the needs of modern Nicaragua and local artisans are using the social, financial, and health tools to help create a livelihood of dignity and a sense of self-worth.