On Friday, March 9, 169 Stonehill College students will depart for destinations around the globe as Spring Break 2012 gets underway. These students won’t be headed to Cancun, the Bahamas and other top spring break destinations for fun in the sun. Instead, they will use their vacation to help make a difference in impoverished or disaster stricken areas.
The trips are an annual part of Stonehill’s service outreach efforts. Called the H.O.P.E. Alternative Spring Break Program, the trips give students a new sense of community. H.O.P.E. is an acronym that stands for the four ‘tenets’ of the program: Honoring our neighbor, Organizing for justice, Practicing peace , and Encountering God.
This year’s sites include Coachella Valley, California; La Romana, Dominican Republic; Guaiacum, Honduras; New Orleans; Chacraseca, Nicaragua; Bronx, New York; Peru; Tennessee; West Virginia; Camden, New Jersey; and for the first time, Andre House in Phoenix, one of Holy Cross apostolates that fulfills founder Blessed Basil Moreau’s vision for mission.
Not just a week-long trip, the students who wish to participate in the program go through a five-month process in which they form community with each other; learn about the culture, history and issues of social justice in their receiving communities; have an opportunity to experience this first-hand over Spring Break; and continue to pursue justice after their return.
Andre House – 8 Students
For the first time, H.O.P.E. will offer a trip to Andre House in Phoenix, a ministry of the U.S. Province. A combination of the charisms of Holy Cross with elements of the Catholic Worker movement, Andre House offers meals, showers, locker space, a clothes ‘free store’ and other hospitality services to clients; as well as Daily Mass.
Peru – 18 Students
H.O.P.E. Peru provides participants with the opportunity to become fully immersed in a unique culture and community through rewarding work at Fe y Alegria, a local school, as well as at Yancana Huasay, a rehabilitation center and school that caters primarily to children with mental and physical disabilities. Both are ministries provided through the U.S. Province’s District of Peru. Participants are given the opportunity to not only make a difference through physical labor, but to also learn and grow through interactions with children at both the school and Yancana Huasay. The experience as a whole is largely focused on gaining an understanding of the immense poverty and social justice issues in Peru. Close relationships developed with locals also provides participants with the opportunity to see past the poverty and be exposed to the generosity, compassion and love that is inherent within the community of Canto Grande.
To read more about what other H.O.P.E. projects the students are participating in, please visit Stonehill’s website.