I had a wonderful time on the Alternative Break trip to Houston. I spent the majority of my time (three of our four days) serving at Cristo Rey Jesuit School, a high school started three years ago I low-income neighborhood of Houston.
The school is one of several Cristo Rey Jesuit schools in many American cities. The schools use a work-study program to cover the expenses of a private education. Low-income students must apply to be in the school, and they and their families must demonstrate a commitment to obtaining a better education. The high school emphasizes the importance of higher education and is college-prep focused. The work study program places students in large corporations, hospitals, and businesses all over the city and the students work one day a week, covering 70% of the cost of their tuition and they take classes the other four days a week. The program seems wonderful because it provides high school students with invaluable work experience and skills, and puts a direct perspective on the benefits of a college degree.
We served in various ways at the Cristo Rey School – we tutored students working on mission statements and resumes, organized the lab classroom, inventoried donations, and put together letters for a charity golf tournament.
We had a second great experience on the day that we spent at Genesys Works, a nonprofit organization which trains inner-city high school students in IT, accounting, and engineering and places them with internships at Fortune 500 companies.Genesys Works partners with the public schools in a co-op program, which allows students to attend a half day of school, taking core classes, and then spend the second half of their day at their internship. During our time at Genesys Works, we had the opportunity to meet a group of prospective applicants for the program for the upcoming year.
We did mock interviews with the students and worked on interview skills. It was wonderful to get to interact with students and learn about their lives. Both the Cristo Rey Jesuit School and Genesys Works had unique solutions to the complex issues in public education. Combined with what I learned on my Alternative Break in Birmingham next year, I felt this trip was a successful opportunity in learning more about educational issues and solutions, while serving the Houston community!
The 2012 NSL Feb Break trip to Houston was a fantastic opportunity to meet current Washington and Lee students as well as inspirational alumni. It also enabled me to compare my educated-related service experiences in Lexington and Rockbridge County with the reality educators, parents, students, and policy makers face in a much more urban and diverse setting.
While there, I spent the majority of my time working with the admissions staff at Cristo Rey Jesuit School, and as a result, I gained a great deal of appreciation for some of the behind-the-scenes work that is essential to any school’s daily functioning and ultimate success.
Overall, the Alternative Break Trip program at Washington and Lee University encourages students from different backgrounds, majors, and class years to come together and learn about issues millions of people across the United States face. For these reasons and others, I would highly recommend it to everyone with a commitment to service and ameliorating poverty.
*The Alumni Alternative Break Program is an opportunity to join current W&L students, W&L alumni and W&L parents in an effort to serve community organizations in need around the country. There are many students at Washington and Lee that are looking for something meaningful to do with one or more of their breaks. Alternative Breaks are a unique way for students to serve and learn about real issues impacting people and cities around the country.
LOOKING FOR A CHANCE TO GIVE BACK THIS HOLIDAY SEASON?
HERE ARE SOME LOCAL OPPORTUNITIES TO GIVE BACK!!
ANGEL TREE PROJECT – Individuals and organizations can sponsor a senior citizen or child’s holiday wish list. (Mon. Nov 28th – dec 9th). Look for the tree in the commons living room.
MOMS CLUB SECRET SANTA SHOPPE – Help rockbridge county kids shop for their families. held in trinity Methodist church (December 3rd, 8:30am-1pm)
SHOP FOR TOTS EVENT- help local children shop and gift wrap presents for their families (Dec 5h at 5:25pm, Volunteer Training Dec 4th at 4pm. American Legion Building in BV)
Our incredible Special Events Chairs Vanessa Ndege and Melissa Derby organized an excellent halloween carnival to serve local youth. Here are a couple of the highlights:
- Kids lined up to shoot “ghosts” (window vinyls attached to a table) with a nerf gun before they stole the candy!
"Mickey" wanted a turkey
- The coloring table was a hit
Coloring vampires, scarcrows and ballerinas
- Kids also got to feel “brains” and “eyeballs”- if they guessed the real contents of the bowl they got a prize.
A big thank you to all the volunteers who came out- I think we had every bit as much fun as the kids!
Kendre Barnes ’13 has served as the Social and Support Services chair for the Nabors Service League, and will continue with the position. Here are notes of appreciation from a couple of the agencies she provides support to:
This has been my favorite Nabors Service Day so far. Despite battling the weather throughout the day, my group accomplished a ton at the local Montessori. I led a great group of around eight people over to the preschool from all across the board. I had the chance to work with a guy from my freshman hall, some good friends, and then meet some new people. It was a great experience all around.
In terms of our projects, we focused on two main activities. First we loaded twenty bags of sand into sandboxes for the children. Second, we moved multch–a lot of multch. However with some great teamwork the job went quickly and smoothly. We set up an assembly line that would make Henry Ford proud: some people loaded the wheelbarrows, others pushed the multch across the yard, and others spread the multch. It gave a chance to finish the job while working together as a team at the same time.