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Student Leadership and Service (SLS)

3CE celebrates successful Alternative Spring Break trips

April 19, 2012

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New Orleans

This year, the Center for Career and Community Engagement supported student directed Alternative Spring Break trips to Cuba, El Salvador, and New Orleans. The purpose of these trips is to provide an opportunity for LC students to explore social injustices, inequalities, and issues of their own choosing by awarding funding towards the creation of an Alternative Break trip.

Now that the participants have returned to campus, they are ready to share their experiences!

Rebuilding Community and Understanding Race in New Orleans

‘If you have come to help me your are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.” - Aboriginal Activist Group

The 2012 Alternative Spring Break Trip to New Orleans, Louisiana explored the social injustices, inequalities, and issues associated with rebuilding communities, with a focus on racial identity. Stemmed from topics addressed in the 2011 Multicultural Symposium, this trip provided participants the opportunity to investigate the intersectionality between building stronger communities and racial tensions.

Although six years have passed and the media lens has shifted away from New Orleans, rebuilding the city is still a serious concern. While structural rebuilding happens in the form of house construction, it is also important to examine how community regrows by developing collaborative initiatives to empower community members and bring support on a holistic level.

Various volunteer projects tied to rebuilding the community contributed to this effort and provided a platform to address racial tensions as it pertains to the community at Lewis & Clark and Portland. Participants visited the Crescent City Art Project at Martin Behrman Elementary, the Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Xavier University of Louisiana, Tekrema Center for Art and Culture, and Tulane University. Students also participated in “Undoing Racism” with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.

The students left with a much more thorough understanding of community, racism, and what it takes to bring people together. Several students hope to bring their experiences back to campus as part of next year’s Multicultural Symposium.

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Broadening Perspectives: Community Engagement in Post War El Salvador

 The 2012 Alternative Spring Break trip to Guarjila, El Salvador focused on the long-term effects of the Salvadorian civil war through the lens of rural Salvadorians.  Participants explored the role the United States played in the war and how it has shaped present day El Salvador. This cross-cultural exchange examined social justice through the lens of history and those who are still living the consequences.

The group was hosted by the Tamarindo community in northern El Salvador. Participants worked hand in hand with the Tamarindos to support their community goals of empowering youth, creating organization through leadership and education, constructing a strong community, and building responsible citizens through youth engagement. In this exchange, both communities were exposed to new perspectives and consequently, learned from critical examination of the themes of social justice and inequality.

The El Salvador group would like to thank President Glassner for providing Strategic Initiative funds to support this program.

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Sobre el Muro: Transcending Cultural Barriers through Artwork at the Wifredo Lam Center

The 2012 Alternative Spring Break Trip to Havana, Cuba was based at the Wifredo Lam Center, and the Instituto Superior de Arte. In May 2012, the Lam Center will host the 11th Havana Biennial which has as its theme, artistic practices and social imaginaries. One project in particular, “Detras del Muro” (Behind the Wall), is a group exposition exploring, through the medium of public art, the tension between the physical proximity and the discursive detachment between Cuba and the U.S. The idea of an exchange of ideas and culture between the two countries is central to the project.

On site, participants conducted and documented interviews with artists, curators, and museum directors involved in the project. In doing so, participants had the opportunity to observe artistic responses to social issues across the world. In addition, this exchange provided a venue for dialogue across cultures.

At the Instituto Superior de Arte, participants formed pairs with art students who too will have work in the Biennial. Each pair worked collaboratively to produce pieces that will be on display in an exhibition at Lewis & Clark’s Hoffman gallery in June. The production of these collaborative pieces serves as yet another catalyst for cross-cultural discourse.


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Are you a student interested in proposing a trip for next year? Are you a faculty or staff member interested in supporting students in the planning process? Are you an alum interested in getting students plugged into your service organization? Email We’d love to chat with you.

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