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  • An Alternative Break

    Students use their winter and spring vacations to help others and spotlights on the different projects around the world.

     
    Monmouth Students helping in Guatamala

    On a Mission to Make a Difference

    Breaks in the spring and winter from a rigorous academic schedule are times to recharge brains, get some rest, and have a little fun. Through Monmouth’s alternative break program students can use this time to give back, whether it be in the next town or across the globe.

    In the spring of 2013, for approximately 200 Monmouth University students, spring break meant helping the residents of Sea Bright, New Jersey, a town ravaged by Superstorm Sandy only a few months earlier. Students collaborated with other volunteers to clean up debris, pump out salty water from basements, and prepare to rebuild.

    Further away from home, other students have volunteered with Social Work Professor Bobbie Arrington. In past years, she has led a trip to Chile during spring break where students worked with leaders and youth of the shantytown La Pincoya in Santiago. They visited schools, hospitals, and other institutions. They were also part of workshops and presentations on Chilean culture, economy, and human rights.

    In 2015, Corey Inzana ’10M, residential life administrator and the 2014 Stafford Presidential Award of Excellence recipient, led 13 students to Haiti during winter break to help build a school for underprivileged children in Canaan 3, just outside Port-au-Prince.

    In the spring, Inzana also took students to Guatemala where they participated in the construction of a school with Salud U Paz in the underprivileged community of Xepocol, just outside of Chichicastenango.

    These trips instill a commitment to helping that continues long after graduation for some of our alumni.

    Joe Patane ’07M, who founded and runs the Dream Camp Foundation, also wanted to respond to the crisis in Haiti. He traveled to the island with Zack Karper of Buggle Productions to see the devastation firsthand and to meet with some of the homeless. Children were given disposable cameras and asked to take photos of people and places in their lives in an effort to draw attention to their tragic plight. Patane’s connection to Haiti continues today.

    “They brought back some profound images—pictures of abandonment, sadness, and little progress,” said Patane.

    To assist with literacy and living conditions, Dream Camp Foundation donated four Apple iPads, Internet connections, and accessories to initiate Haiti's first youth community newspaper with the help of Kara Lightburn and Joe Duplan.

    “Locals are able to reach out to others around the globe, enhancing awareness and communication, and providing the opportunity to enrich their own lives,” said Patane.

    Also recognizing the need to help those less fortunate in Haiti is Dr. Regina Foley ’89, who has been traveling to the third-world country for more than a decade.

    “There has been incremental improvement since the earthquake, but there is still a pre-earthquake discussion and a post-earthquake discussion,” said Foley, who traveled to Haiti for nine days in January 2015. Next January will mark her 15th year.

    (continued below)

    Students Help Build a School in Guatemala During Alternative Spring Break

    “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. One of the biggest life lessons I learned is that you don’t have to do it all, you don’t need to save a country, you don’t need to build a house by yourself, but each brick you lay and each person you talk to and smile at makes a difference. That really came to life on this trip.”

    - Becca Baier ’12

     
     
    Students Help Build a School in Haiti During Alternative Winter Break

    “It puts a lot of our lives in perspective to see what we really have and how we can continue to give back to others.” Corey Inzana ’10M, Trip Advisor and Area Coordinator in the Office of Residential Life

     
     
    Oscar Sanchez ’13 reflects on His Trip to Guatemala

    “My favorite part of the trip is that I got to see how a diverse group of Monmouth University students were able to collaborate to do something good for the world. It tested me physically. It tested me mentally. And I learned how to adapt to their culture,” said Sanchez.

     
     
    A Monmouth Education Isn’t Limited to the Classroom

    Rachel Connors ’14 spent 11 days building a new school for poverty-stricken children in Guatemala, and also spent four months in London studying communication and psychology, as well as traveling to five other European countries. "To be able to fully immerse myself in different cultures was thrilling, freeing, and entirely unforgettable," she said.

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    Monmouth Student relief helping in Haiti  
    Portait photo of monmouth student in Guatamala  

    She took her first medical mission trip in 2002, arriving in the town of Milot, about 70 miles outside of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, to offer her help and has continued to do so every year since. The only year she and her team missed was 2013 when a revolt broke out in the city two days before they were scheduled to arrive.

    “I get more out of it than they do,” said Foley. “They are really good at tapping into your experience and talent to become stronger. They embrace our help.”

    The mission is part of a self-funded, multidisciplinary medical team headed by Dr. Daniel Burzon, a physician at Coastal Urology Associates and an attending urologist at Ocean Medical Center, both in Brick, New Jersey.

    As chief nursing officer/vice president of operations for Ocean Medical Center, Foley was part of a team of 30 to 50 specialized doctors and nurses who worked at Milot’s Hôpital Sacré-Coeur, which holds about 100 beds.

    “It’s a dual role for me,” said Foley, who noted that in addition to performing surgeries for elephantitis and prostatitis, she tries to educate the people on hand washing, diet, HIV, hepatitis prevention, and the maintenance and management of equipment.

    “They are such a proud culture,” she said. “They really want to improve their life expectancy and their environment.” Currently, the life expectancy is only 44. Despite the obstacles and crumbled infrastructure, Foley still remains hopeful and looks forward to her trip every year, saying, “It’s the best vacation I ever had.”

    Jorge Branco, BA Psychology, Class of 2013  
     

    Jorge Branco

    Degree Program:
    BA Psychology

    Class of 2013
     

     
    Founder of World Traveler’s Association
     

    “My favorite memories as an undergrad were all the traveling options like studying abroad in London, and the alternative spring break trip to Guatemala,” said Branco. His life-changing trip volunteering in Guatemala influenced his life’s work as founder of the World Traveler’s Association, which was born out of Monmouth University’s alternative spring break. Alternative Spring Break sends students abroad to take part in service projects and community building in unfamiliar locales. The association takes a similar tack, combining community service with global travel, providing adventurers with a low cost way to see the world in exchange for work in communities.”