The semester is just flying by. Gannon students are back from spring break and (hopefully) refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for the second half of the term. Some students went home to spend time with family and friends, some went on a well-deserved vacation and other students, like me, went on a different kind of adventure.

The Center for Social Concerns here at Gannon offers Alternative Break Service Trips (ABST) every year, and I was lucky enough to spend my spring break on one of these trips, working in El Salvador. Other groups went to Joplin, Miss., Richmond Hill, Ontario and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

In El Salvador, we worked with a mission called Project FIAT that works for the poor and disadvantaged. We built an addition to a school for the first half of the week and did some exterior painting on a daycare for the second half. The most valuable part of the trip, though, wasn’t doing work – it was building relationships with the local people.

Our group heard heartbreaking stories about families who were torn apart during the Salvadoran Civil War. We discovered what it was like to live without indoor plumbing when we hiked twenty minutes down a mountain just to get water for a woman who lived near the school. We spent time in an orphanage with kids who rarely get visitors and just want someone to talk to and play with. We even learned how to make tortillas from a Salvadoran woman, though we couldn’t do it nearly as well as she could.

ABST is a great program because it gives students the opportunity to do something completely new and different for spring break. I never thought I’d find myself in Central America at all. But because of ABST, I was able to help and work with the people of El Salvador while learning about their history, social and political issues, and way of life at the same time.

If I hadn’t gone on this trip, I would have really missed out on a valuable cultural learning experience that will both help me in my coursework and allow me to see things from a different point of view.

Throughout the entire trip, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for everything that I have. We in the United States are privileged, and we take a lot of things for granted. Simple things like indoor plumbing, clean water and food to eat are difficult to find in the poorest parts of El Salvador.

Sometimes all we need is a different perspective, and spending spring break in El Salvador was a great way for me to get one.

¡Hasta luego!


Click here to see other blogs, photos and videos about ABST.