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Immigration focus of Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break crowd

Students, faculty, and staff attend a Lunch and Learn event April 16 at Common Ground, on the 10th floor of the Walker Building, to hear about the experiences of students who recently traveled to El Paso, Texas, for Alternative Spring Break. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Students who participated in Alternative Spring Break last month in El Paso, Texas, and Boston shared stories about what they learned after meeting people affected by immigration policy in a Lunch and Learn event at Common Ground, in the Walker Building, on April 16.

Some students became visibly emotional as they described the experiences of people they met while volunteering at shelters and outreach programs.

Edwin Stubbs, MA ’15, a Marketing Communication major, tried not to choke up as he recounted the story of a woman from Mexico who was discouraged by friends and family from leaving her partner who was physically abusive.

“A lot of these women are hearing on a daily basis that no one cares about you,” Stubbs said. “It was very emotional for me.”

Alternative Spring Break Stubbs

Edwin Stubbs, MA '15, said volunteering to help new immigrants in El Paso for Alternative Spring Break was a transformative experience for him. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Angelika Romero ’15, a Journalism major, spoke about a woman who fled Mexico after being threatened with death by a drug cartel because she had not paid them money they demanded. Romero said the cartel forced people into payment of so-called dues.

“Her youngest daughter had a very expensive kidney infection,” said Romero, before explaining that cartel members went to the woman’s home and pulled guns on her children. “She comes from a low-income background. She can’t read or write.”

Alternative Spring Break - Angelika

Angelika Romero '15 spoke about meeting a woman who recently fled Mexico after her life was threatened by a drug cartel. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Romero said she met with the woman on the same day she left a U.S. detention center, where she had been held since crossing the border.

“She said that she had forgotten there were good people in the world,” Romero said. “That made the trip worthwhile.”

Romero, along with the other students, called for the need for reform to help immigrants from Latin American countries, where corruption in government is common.

Suzanne Hinton, director of Emerson’s Office of Service Learning and Community Action, which organizes the annual Alternative Spring Break trip, said the Lunch and Learn event was intended to help the program grow and strategize for next year.

Hinton - Alternative Spring Break

Suzanne Hinton, director of the Office of Service Learning and Community Action, addressed the audience during the Lunch and Learn event. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

“One of our goals today is to try to inspire you by hearing our stories,” Hinton said. “For the participants, these are some of the most transformative experiences of their lives.”

Hinton said her office would continue working closely with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations on fundraising for future Alternative Spring Break trips using USEED

Alternative Spring Break

Ashley Tarbet DeStefano '09, administrative associate for the Elma Lewis Center, helped organize the Alternative Spring Break trip. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)