As many students at Seattle University know, it can be difficult to persevere through Winter Quarter. We have once again said goodbye to our loved ones after a relaxing holiday, the weather is cold and rainy, and classes are ruthless despite our deep-seeded desires to bundle up inside all day and sleep or play in the snow with our friends. However, we somehow all bear the coldest season of the year and anticipation builds up as friends excitedly ask each other “What are your plans for Spring Break?” Spring Break, the one week of freedom we have to recharge our academic batteries and gear up for the school year’s home run, Spring Quarter.
When I was personally researching study abroad options, I knew I didn’t have the time or money to complete a full quarter studying abroad, but still really wanted a worthwhile experience in a foreign country. I was drawn to the Xavier Global Outreach Project, a one-week, spring break trip that included working in solidarity with communities in Tijuana, Mexico facing extreme poverty. The program fee was $700, and after one class session, I already knew I would be compensated much more than that from the overall experience of this trip.
Our class met once a week throughout the quarter and analyzed issues of the US-Mexico border, specifically focusing on Tijuana’s history, politics, economics, and environmental issues. We were also introduced to the collaborating grassroots organization, The Esperanza Foundation, based in Tijuana. Esperanza’s mission is to help the impoverished people of Tijuana help themselves, and while they essentially build homes for people, their main goal is to build relationships for the highest form of compassion to be discovered, solidarity.
So far, this program has been a great opportunity to continue holistic education over spring break in a meaningful way. It has also been an opportunity to build wonderful relationships with fellow classmates, SU faculty and staff, and kindhearted people in Mexico. But most importantly, it has been a rewarding, fun, worthwhile escape from the Seattle cold and an embrace of the warmth of Mexico’s environment and its people.