ASU students participate in Alternative Spring Break

By Shirley Atencio
An enthusiastic group from Adams State University journeyed through the Mexican Sonoran desert during Alternative Spring Break 2016. Sightseeing, community projects, service, and Holy Week observances filled a week that passed all too quickly. The group included 10 students, an ASU staff member, La Puente staff member, and Catholic campus minister Shirley Atencio. Bahia de Kino, a small fishing village off the Sea of Cortez, was the final destination.

The experience included a homestay with a Mexican couple on the U.S. – Mexico border at Naco, Arizona. This was the first of many warm and rewarding community encounters the group would have. Stops at historic places like the Santa Maria de Magdalena mission church, and the crypt of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino in the beautiful city of Magdalena demonstrated the colonizing role of Spanish missionaries and their spreading of the Catholic faith. In Bahia de Kino, Marisa, an Ekumene missionary from Spain, explained the Familias Unidas program which assists local families in transitioning from dangerous cardboard and tin to safer cinderblock dwellings. Students volunteered by painting at two of the houses and spent time getting to know the families. Playing street soccer with local kids was a fun diversion throughout the week. Further south, in the port city of Guaymas, students met the dedicated staff at Casa Franciscana, where more than 600 meals are served daily. Students assembled care packages, washed dishes, and served lunch to migrants just off the infamous train known as “La Bestia” which comes up from the south.

Because it was Holy Week as well as spring vacation for all of Mexico, a mixture of solemnity and festivity filled the air. This seemed a fitting reflection of the joys and struggles so visibly intertwined in the daily lives of the people.
Alternative Spring Break provides a way, explicitly or implicitly, for students to explore social and cultural issues through the lens of faith. Through public service and travel, students better understand themselves as global citizens called to see the dignity within each person, and are inspired toward service to the common good. Alternative Spring Break is open to all ASU students and sponsored by Newman Grizz Catholic. To learn more, visit the ASB blog at