Students spend spring break serving others

By Darin Sisneros, Shirley Attencio, and Hunter Darrouzet
For the first time in many years, all five of the Diocese of Pueblo campus ministries shared the same spring break schedule. This enabled students from Adams State University, Western State University, Colorado State University - Pueblo, and Fort Lewis College to partake in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Hatch, N.M. A second group from Adams State University returned to Mexicali, Baja Mexico and students from Colorado Mesa University sent a delegation of students to El Salvador for the third year in a row.

The team that went to Hatch, N.M. assisted in working on eight of 15 houses that were selected by the local church of Hatch. “One of the hardest challenges of these projects was to get the right supplies for each house given our limited amount of time, funding, and resources. But once we started working on the homes everything seemed to fall into place,” said ASU student Drake Sisneros. The students served for three full days patching and building roofs, cleaning yards, landscaping, and painting. The crew finished the last leg of their break visiting the border of Mexico in El Paso speaking with border patrol about illegal immigration. “We learned about how hard life is in Mexico and why people have no other choice but to cross the border,” said ASU student Bella Whitten.

The team that returned to Mexicali deepened the partnership they began last year with Los Ninos, a nonprofit organization. The group of nine students, a La Puente Home staff member, and the campus minister learned about the border region by visiting two Catholic outreach centers which serve migrants deported from the U.S. During the week, they met with promotoras, local women trained to teach others about health and nutrition through the use of available resources. Highlights of the week included teaching English classes at the university followed by a surprise fiesta and an intense soccer match with local youth. Students were confronted with stark realities with serious moral implications. As ASU student Melissa Morgan said about the experience, “It turned my whole world upside down.”

The team that went to El Espino, El Salvador consisted of nine students and a trip leader / CMU Spanish professor. CMU’s campus ministry and the Foundation for Cultural Exchange’s purpose is to allow students to experience Catholic Social Justice via solidarity with the people in El Salvador. This happened by spending most of the week living in pairs with local families, teaching English at the local school, and attending local festivities and celebrations. The team also went to San Salvador to visit the home and tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero (on the 35th anniversary) and a local coffee cooperative. CMU student Audrey Maddox said, “Never in my life have I received so much love from people whom I didn’t even know. I am in awe of their hospitality, strength of spirit, and endless beauty.”