Trinity University, San Antonio | News Release



CONTACT: Susie P. Gonzalez

April 20, 2010

Trinity University Students Volunteer in Dominican Republic, Washington D.C. during Spring Break

By Kelsey Wetherbee ’10


SAN ANTONIO --While some students spent spring break lounging on the beach working on their tans, a group of dedicated Trinity students volunteered to serve the underprivileged. As part of the University’s Alternative Spring Break program, seven students traveled to the Dominican Republic, and six students went to Washington, D.C.   Sponsored by Campus and Community Involvement (CCI), the trips allowed students to step out of the San Antonio community for a great cause.


“Our alternative breaks give students an opportunity to learn outside the classroom and expand their horizons,” said Edwin Blanton, coordinator of community service and engagement.  “The alternative breaks give students a chance to venture out and serve other people while being supported by experienced staff and faculty.” 


Rachna Turakhia, left, and Maria Greene tutored students in the Domincan Republic.

In the Dominican Republic, students taught English to school children. The subjects of the lessons ranged from emotions to days of the week.  The students were responsible for creating lesson plans and coming up with activities for the kids.  Rachna Turakhia, a junior, believed that the most memorable part of the trip was seeing the transformation of the students.  “On the first day, they were a little difficult to handle and were indifferent to learning,” she said. “However, as the week progressed, the children became more responsive and excited to learn. By the last day, we had all of them engaged and even the teacher, too! To see their eagerness and enthusiasm was very rewarding.”


The volunteers stayed in an orphanage with the children and were able to interact with them.  When not teaching in the classroom, they played with the Dominican children at recess.  Basketball and soccer were popular activities.

Trinity students worked in a Washington D.C. soup kitchen during an alternative spring. Helping were, from left, Megan Sparks, Laura Pollard, and
Sophia Tanner.


In Washington, students volunteered at eight non-profit organizations in five days.  Their activities included preparing wound kits to be handed out to the homeless at PreventionWorks!, packaging meals for people with HIV/AIDS at Food & Friends, and sorting food at the Capital Area Food Bank. 


Students were able to share a meal with the homeless.  “My favorite part of the trip was volunteering with Martha's Table because we actually got to go out into the streets and serve dinner to people who were homeless or hungry,” said sophomore Molly Vetter.  “By going to the streets we got to interact with them in a completely different way because we were the ones coming into their territory, not the other way around. The sincerity, politeness, and thanks that we received was amazing and I wish that everyone could experience that.”


Students began preparing for their trips months in advance.  Starting in January, students met weekly. Those going to the Dominican Republic learned about cross-cultural communication, and contemporary issues in the Dominican Republic, as well as practicing their conversational Spanish.  The students going to Washington prepared for the experience by discussing issues of poverty, causes of homelessness, personal privilege, and volunteered at Corazon Ministries in downtown San Antonio.


Students were accompanied by members of the CCI staff.  Mr. Blanton and Raphael Moffett, CCI director, went to the Dominican Republic, while staffers Josh Brack and Ben Newhouse accompanied students to Washington. “Sometimes we have to leave our community to better understand how an issue manifests itself in our community,” said Mr. Newhouse, assistant director of CCI.  “Also, I think Alternative Spring Break allowed all of us to leave our everyday distractions behind, serve together, and truly examine why we felt compelled to serve, what we valued about the experiences we had, and consider how that will impact our actions and commitments once we return home.”

Kelsey Wetherbee is a senior from Double Oak, Texas. She is a candidate for graduation in May with majors in history and communication and a minor in Spanish.


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