Globetrotting Lions tackle social issues on AB trips
Some Lions will ring in the New Year by tackling social justice issues in such far-off places as South Africa, Haiti and Mexico – all as a part of LMU’s Alternative Break program.
There are 12 different AB trips planned over the course of 2014 and 2015, to virtually every corner of the globe, dealing with a myriad of issues.
“The goal of the AB trips is to create active citizens,” said Alternative Breaks Program Coordinator Jessica Viramontes.
Viramontes describes the AB program philosophy as “experiential learning,” having students learn about an issue before they embark on their trip, when they reach their destination get hands-on experience with said issue, then upon their return take action on the issue.
New destination additions to the 2014-2015 slate include trips to Northern Ireland, where students will learn how to run peace and conflict circles, Morocco, involving refugee and human right issues and trips to several California prisons, highlighting incarceration and restorative justice.
Sophomore LaShyra Nolen, a Health and Human Sciences major, will forgo a traditional spring break in order to visit Managua, Nicaragua, where the focus will be on public health issues in the area.
“I personally have a big interest in public health and the Latino culture,” Nolen said. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to combine my passions and create change through public health.”
Nolen says she wants to get a broader perspective on health care, hoping to learn the skill of solidarity, rather than sympathy.
She says her and her peers will hold workshops for the Nicaraguan community, where they can come and learn ways to prevent certain diseases and just lead healthier lives in general.
“This trip is really important to me because I want to get my M.D. as well as my Masters in Public Health,” Nolan said. “So I see this trip as the first step to really learning what it takes to work with people and properly educate them.”
Likewise, senior Miriam Vega, a Communications and Women’s Studies double major, will journey to Tucson, Ariz., where the focus will be on Immigration Reform.
“AB trips go beyond just volunteering,” the Inglewood, Calif. native said. “You really get to learn about the root cause of the issue your working with – get the chance to talk about the issue beyond just politics, but as a humanitarian issue.”
This is Vega’s third AB trip. She previously ventured to Dallas to focus on Education and Refugee Rights and Atlanta, where she explored Education & Poverty.
And Vega expects her trip to Tucson to be an especially powerful one, as both her parents immigrated to the U.S. She says she is eager to come face to face with the issue.
“Every single trip I’ve taken I’ve realized that we’re all accountable for every issue in one way or another,” Vega said, encouraging her fellow Lions to consider taking an AB trip in the future, as she sees them as being a very big part of LMU’s mission.
“They’re a great way to expand your knowledge while tackling important issues,” Vega said, “to leave the bubble.”
For more information about the Alternative Breaks program, contact Jessica Viramontes at firstname.lastname@example.org.