Kayli Hertel – 1851 Staff
Spring Break is typically a time for students to travel to warm, sunny places of rest, relaxation, and fun. However, for some students, Spring Break is a chance to make a difference in a new location across the country. This year’s destination was New Mexico, where a group of Lasell students worked together with The Native Health Initiative. Students were able to participate in service-focused opportunities such as working with local businesses, a food bank, and one-on-one with senior citizens.
The group decided to go back to New Mexico for this year’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) because of the connections made from their trip in 2011. When deciding where to go, Barbara Wrenn, one of the co-leaders of the group, aided in the discussion about travel locations. Wrenn participated in ASB as a part of the first New Mexico trip in 2011.
“We had made a lot of amazing connections through the various non-profits we volunteered at,” Wrenn said of the 2011 trip. “Specifically we had a special connection with The Native Health Initiative run by Shannon and Anthony Fleg, and Amy [Greene] had kept in contact with the Fleg family.”
In New Mexico, students participated with The Native Health Initiative organization. During the week the group visited the Storehouse, a volunteer based local food bank, where people can receive food and clothing once a month.
“In two hours, our group scooped one ton of uncooked noodles into small, two pound bags and we were told it would feed 500 families,” said sophomore Danielle Cutillo.
Students also visited the Acoma Senior Center located in Acoma, New Mexico. This was a particularly momentous experience for Cutillo because each student met with the members of the Acoma Senior Center to sit for lunch and compete in an Easter egg hunt. “Each of us made a connection with at least one person and we each learned about their culture, families, and more,” said Cutillo.
“I believe the learning service was so important because we can learn about a new culture and help educate others,” said Cutillo. As they talked, Cutillo met a woman named Olivia and learned about her family, career, and the stereotypes that were made based on her culture. “[The discussion] made me want to learn more and educate my family and friends back home,” she said.
When they weren’t serving the community, students explored the New Mexico landscape, specifically Sky City at the Acoma Pueblo. This community is the longest inhabited Native American community in North America. Students also participated in the Laguna Pueblo’s Feast Day, a holiday where the community welcomes strangers into their homes.
Opportunities to go to a different location within the country and aid others are few and far between. “These types of trips will help you learn about yourself and others,” said Wrenn of the overall ASB experience. Wrenn recommends the trip to all students, noting that these trips are beneficial for all involved. “Service is a two-way street. You may be helping someone but you will be getting just as much out of it.”