Students serve and learn during Notre Dame’s spring break

Author: Michael O. Garvey


More than 200 University of Notre Dame students will spend their spring break (March 11 to 18) working in the desolatedGulfCoastregion and in impoverished areas of Appalachia, visiting with migrant workers in theCaliforniadesert, speaking with social activists and policymakers inNew YorkandWashington,D.C., and as guests of developmentally disabled people inCanada.

The students are enrolled in the Spring Break Seminars, one-credit courses administered by the faculty and staff of Notre Dames Center for Social Concerns in cooperation with other academic departments of the University and often with assistance from the Notre Dame Alumni Association as well.

Before their departure from Notre Dames campus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (March 10, 11 and 12), participating students will have attended orientation classes and read Catholic social teachings relevant to the sites and communities they will visit.There also will be a Mass for seminar participants at7 p.m.Thursday (March 10) in the Alumni Hall Chapel.Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., Leo and Arlene Hawk Director of the Center for Social Concerns, will preside.

Eight students and two graduate students will visitNew Orleansand otherGulfCoastareas to examine environmental and human rights issues arising from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.Assisting in rebuilding efforts with groups fromXavierUniversityand Catholic Charities, they will stay inTentCity,the temporary quarters built by military personnel immediately after the hurricane to house relief workers.

The largest of the seminars, on Appalachia, will send 150 students to 16 sites inKentucky,West Virginia,VirginiaandTennesseeto assist in various community serviceprojects.The students will not only work, but also recreate with local residents while discussing with them such matters as environmental problems, education and the regions economy.

Twelve students will travel toWashington,D.C., to examineethical and public policy issues in science and technology which increasingly concern the federal government and various interest groups.The students will meet with representatives from government and religious agencies and assorted advocacy groups to discuss such subjects as nuclear waste disposal, stem cell research and genetically modified organisms.

Five students will spend a week at the LArche Daybreak Community inToronto, and six more in the LArche Community inWashington,D.C., living and working in a community of developmentally disabled people and their companions.They will be introduced to the vision and writings of LArche founder Jean Vanier, and to the model of service he has inspired. This seminar is co-sponsored withLoganCenterinSouth Bend, where the Center for Social Concerns helps support a community-based learning coordinator.

The Migrant Experiences Seminar will send 10 students toImmokalee,Fla., where they will work in the fields with migrant workers, assist agencies that serve migrants and live with migrant families.

Eight students will participate in the Holy Cross Mission Seminar in the Coachella region of southernCaliforniaat the Parish of Nuestra Senora de Soledad Coachella.Working with members of Notre Dames founding religious community, the Congregation of Holy Cross, and hosted by local families, the students will study the Catholic Churchsoption for the poorthrough an immersion in the spirituality, culture and economy of a poor rural community.

The Children and Poverty Seminar will send 13 students toNew York Cityto examine issues affecting youth, especially those who are poor.Their itinerary will include visits with officials at UNICEF and administrators atColumbiaUniversity’sNationalCenterfor Children and Poverty.

More information on the Spring Break Seminars is available from the Center for Social Concerns Web site at

* Contact: * _Jay W. Brandenberger at 574-631-5293 or

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