Club & Greek

Do it for the Culture: An Alternative Break

Culture Alternative BreakThe Alternative Winter Break Program, led by International Student Advisor, Corey Inzana returned on Jan. 7, from their nine-day service trip to Haiti. Monmouth University students spent part of their winter break in Canaan, Haiti working on construction for an orphanage, church, and school. Students say the experience was rewarding and applicable in many ways.

Mary Kate O’Rourke, a senior psychology student has now been on the Alternative Break trip two times. In preparation for Haiti, O’Rourke considered the lessons she had learned a few months prior when she was in Nicaragua on the Alternative Summer Break trip. However O’Rourke explained, “When I got to Haiti, I was not prepared. I was prepared as I was safe and with great company, but my eyes were not prepared.” It took days to adjust to the cultural and geographical differences of Haiti but the love she experienced there, helped her to become acclimated.

On this trip, students stepped outside of their comfort zone in both big and small ways and often displayed great selflessness. Celine Powell, a freshman education and history student said, “One moment I will never forget was when the kids started chanting my name to sing.” She explained that she was hesitant but in that moment, realized that it wasn’t about herself. “I sang for them and danced and the joy they had on their face made me tear up,” Powell explained.

Nicholas Verzicco, a junior business administration and finance student recounted his experience working with the kids in Haiti as well. Verzicco said, “To see little children probably around four or five, like my niece and nephews, helping us move rocks and having fun was just eye opening.”

The trip was filled with new and eye-opening experiences for students and advisors alike. Co-advsior of the Alternative Winter Break trip to Haiti, Beth Brody attended this trip as her fourth Alternative Break Trip as a faculty advisor.

“Over the years, I have witnessed incredible sacrifice, generosity, strength and love from our students,” said Brody. She explained that this most recent trip was particularly moving for her. On her last day at the orphanage, she witnessed a student remove his socks and sneakers to donate to one of the children at the orphanage. Brody continued, “This student did not even have an extra pair of shoes with him while at the orphanage, but going barefoot for an hour until we got back to our house was not an issue for him. In fact, all 15 students on this trip gave away some of their clothes and shoes without a second thought.”

It has been commonly noted that most students come home transformed, with a renewed understanding of what is truly important. “The transition back to life in New Jersey is difficult. I go through it myself. But the students are now friends forever, relying on each other, reminding each other of how to make their mark in the world and continue to help those who can’t help themselves. To me, there is no other program on campus that transforms our students to this degree – they all now have it in their hearts and minds to find a way to help make someone’s life a little bit better, whether it be around the world or here at home,” said Brody.

The Alternative Break program truly provides students with an eye-opening experience to expand their cultural horizons and embrace a deeper sense of appreciation for the little things we take for granted each and every day.

IMAGE TAKEN from Monmouth University Twitter