Every other spring break a delegation from Brebeuf travels to El Salvador. We are hosted by CRISPAZ, a faith-based organization that has been leading trips for school groups in El Salvador for the last 26 years. During the immersion trip, students experience the food, culture, and people of El Salvador. We learn about the history of the country, including the role of the Catholic Church and martyrs of El Salvador. We also visit the Jesuit University of Central America in San Salvador. Our accommodations are modest as we staying in simple guesthouses.
Daily reflection, discussion, and journal writing are all essential aspects of the trip. Upon returning to Brebeuf, the delegation is involved in various activities during the following school year to share their experiences with the entire Brebeuf community.
A word about the trip from CRISPAZ:
The CRISPAZ El Salvador Encounter is for people who are willing to have their lives touched and forever changed. During your time in El Salvador you will have the opportunity to meet with Salvadorans, hear their stories, and accompany them for a short time in their daily lives. As a group of North Americans, you will also have the opportunity to reflect together on the challenge this experience offers personally, politically, and spiritually. We hope that the stories you hear and the experiences that you have will lead you to continue to work towards justice and peace in El Salvador and in your home community. To participate in an El Salvador Encounter is to enter into an ongoing dialogue with the people of El Salvador and with other North Americans, a dialogue which we hope will challenge and change your heart, mind, and spirit.
Each year, the Community Service office organizes a student Spring Break trip to New Orleans. This trip provides a unique experience for students who want to spend their Spring Break helping others who have experienced tragedy and destruction while at the same time having fun with their friends and being immersed in the rich culture of New Orleans.
Students consistently report that they are somehow changed by the New Orleans service trip, learning things about Hurricane Katrina (which, for most, occurred while they were in Elementary School), the history of New Orleans and its community, meeting others through our service with Habitat for Humanity, and also looking inside themselves to find strength to do things that they have never done before and help others in a way that they never thought possible.
In the words of one student who went on the trip in 2012: “There are a lot of inspirational messages painted in bright colors on walls throughout the city, and my personal favorite said this: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” by Mack, a New Orleans resident. When it comes to serving others, we can’t keep waiting for the problem to be big enough, or until we find the time or energy, or for complete knowledge of the situation at hand or of what we are expected to do to help. We just need to get out there and get started. It’s time to stop waiting, because we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
The Red Cloud Indian School Exchange trip will take place from Saturday, March 10 to Saturday, March 17, 2012. This is an exciting, new exchange program that will begin with a one-way (Brebeuf to Red Cloud) exchange in 2012. This week-long exchange is an excellent opportunity for Brebeuf students to learn about and experience the culture of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indians living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Students who participate in the exchange will be sponsored by Lakota host families and attend classes at the Red Cloud Indian School, a private, Jesuit school in the town of Pine Ridge. Students will attend classes in Lakota language and culture, as well as academic classes on par with those of Brebeuf. They will take part in family activities, observe and/or participate in Native American cultural events, and tour historic sites on the reservation. Ms. Beck (World Languages Department) and Father Michael Christiana, Brebeuf’s Vice President of Mission and Identity, will accompany the students and will be available to the students during their stay. Students and chaperones will be housed in the Jesuit residences on the school’s campus.
Participating in the Red Cloud Indian School Exchange Program will allow Brebeuf students to experience Native American culture from an immersion perspective. Students will learn about and witness human lives that are affected by extreme poverty and social injustice. As a result of what they learn in their classes at Red Cloud School about Lakota history and culture, their interactions with their sponsoring Lakota families and the students of Red Cloud, and daily discussions led by Father Michael, students will grow immensely in their awareness of the world around them and the Brebeuf Jesuit Grad-at-Grad attributes. The experience will be an unforgettable one that truly gives students a taste of an unknown world beyond the doors of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School that is within the borders of their own country and, quite literally, “in their own back yards.”
Ignatian Family Teach-In
Historically organized to educate participants about the six Jesuit martyrs who were killed in El Salvador in 1989 and the role of the School of the Americas in their killings, the Teach-In now includes a two day program of speakers on current human rights issues and a broad range of social justice issues, accompanied by smaller break-out sessions.
For ten years this program had been held in Columbus, GA, where students gathered for the Teach-In and the large vigil calling for the closure of the School of Americas. Recently in an effort to chart a new direction, the program was moved to Washington DC where thousands of students from Jesuit universities and high schools gathered to examine some of the most pressing justice concerns of the Ignatian family (most recently immigration reform). The last few years have also included opportunities for legislative advocacy.