Last night, I received an email congratulating me on my new role as Community Development Chair of the Alternative Breaks Program (ABP).
This is my fourth year (out of four...) being involved with ABP. Last year, I was a trip leader, and the two years before that I was a participant.
The Alternative Breaks Program is part of the Center for Social Justice at Georgetown University. The program offers 20+ trips every year, offered during Winter Break, Spring Break, President's Day weekend, and the summer. Though centered on a range of themes, all ABP trips are focused on the intersection of service, immersion, and reflection. In addition to learning more about different communities and giving back, ABP allows you to bond with an amazing group of people--your fellow ABParticipants.
The Alternative Breaks Program is the only organization at Georgetown that I'll have been involved with for my entire undergraduate career. It is by far the organization that I have devoted the most time to.
In celebration of this, and my new role, I'd like to share some of the highlights of all four of my ABP experiences.
Year 1: Blanket New Orleans
I applied for my first ABP trip after having received an email advertising the program. I've always been a lover of jazz, so the trip to New Orleans particularly stood out to me. The biggest aspect of the trip was helping to rebuild a house with the Saint Bernard Project.
During the week I spent in New Orleans, however, I also got to experience the unique culture there. I enjoyed 70 degree weather in December, visited Tulane University, and, of course, ate beignets. I even got to visit the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Although I didn't take that many pictures (...no excuse, really), it was definitely a memorable trip.
Year 2: Magis: Jamaica
I had so much fun on the BNO trip that I was certain I would apply to ABP again my sophomore year. This time, I was accepted to the Magis: Jamaica trip. ABP Magis trips are co-sponsored by Georgetown's Campus Ministry. In addition to student trip leaders, Magis trips involve a staff leader and a religious leader.
According to Campus Ministry, Magis is "the Ignatian ideal of more," which "asks people to go deeper and pay more intimate attention to their feelings, experiences and significant relationships with God and others."
During Magis: Jamaica, I traveled across the country to interact with different communities there. I learned more about Jamaican culture, how religion plays a role in the country, and how people live their lives. I met a man with 5+ degrees who is creating his own museum. I visited the Bob Marley Museum. I also captured much more (and better?) images, as a result of actually bringing my DSLR.
Year 3: Magis: Journey
After returning home from Jamaica, I decided I wanted to not just go on another ABP trip, but lead one. I applied to several trips that seemed like a good fit, but the one that stuck out to me most was the one I was ultimately chosen for: Magis: Journey - the Search for Home.
Magis: Journey was split over two locations. First, we visited New York City and went to historic sites such as Ellis Island. Then, we came pretty close to campus, staying downtown in Washington, DC. The theme of Magis: Journey was immigration, seen through a Jewish perspective. In the mission statement for this trip, my co-leader Gabi and I wrote that participants would "critically examine how immigration is not just a political matter, but an intensely personal one."
Leading an ABP trip was a lot harder than just participating on one, but it was also much more rewarding. I found that I learned so much more about the places we went to on the trip, having researched them thoroughly beforehand. Some of my favourite community partners were the Tenement Museum in NY, Dream Project in Northern Virginia, and the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in DC. (It was a tough decision, but I chose not to bring my DSLR again because of the whole, you know, leading the trip thing.)
Year 4: Board Member
Though being a trip leader was a great experience, I decided I wouldn't like to do so again as a senior. Instead, I thought I might as well try to take on the last ABP student role I hadn't already experienced: board member. Which brings me to today (or, yesterday)!
As community development chair, I'll help manage social events and marketing on behalf of ABP. I'll also be able to go on one ABP trip (still TBA), as a regular participant. An exciting aspect of being a board member is that I'll also get to apply my Federal Work Study funds to the position, so I'll even get paid!
So, here's hoping to a successful (and final) year of being involved with ABP.
I hope to once again find myself on a great adventure on whatever ABP trip I eventually go on. I hope that I'll be able to improve the already-strong aspects of ABP, and I hope that I'll be able to change some of the things I think could be improved upon. I hope.