UO students dedicate their spring break to community service and social justice

EUGENE, Ore. - (Mar. 18, 2010) - There's not likely to be any MTV footage of Cody Wollitz's spring break, but he and 49 other University of Oregon students are still expecting it to be one to remember.

The students, divided into four groups, will leave Saturday for separate community-based, service-learning experiences in rural southeastern Oregon, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The Alternative Spring Break - sponsored by the UO Service Learning Program (SLP) - is in its third year of building awareness of social justice issues through direct service, education, dialogue and reflection.

"I am very excited to be part of this opportunity because all (the) trips will be focusing on issues that affect our community, but in the eastern Oregon trip specifically, we will be working with and learning from people in our state," said Wollitz, a UO political science major. "I don't know exactly what our group will be learning, but I know that it will provide a new perspective for most members of the group."

Southeastern Oregon and Los Angeles are new destinations this year for Alternative Spring Break participants. The UO and Oregon State University will collaborate on the southeastern Oregon trip, where Wollitz' group will have stops in Klamath Falls, Lakeview and Burns. Nine UO students and eight from OSU will learn about rural issues including tribal sovereignty, domestic violence and sustainable solutions for natural resource problems.

Students traveling to Los Angeles will work with at-risk youth, volunteering at after-school programs and youth centers such as A Place Called Home, the Salvation Army and Central City Community Outreach. The Alterative Spring Break participants will also talk to city officials and community members about the issue of at-risk youth and how best to encourage and support them.

In San Francisco, the UO students will focus on urban poverty and HIV/AIDS. They will work with organizations including Tenderloin Health, Glide Memorial Church and the San Francisco Aids Foundation, which deal with issues of health and hunger among the city's homeless, poor and most vulnerable inhabitants.

The San Diego contingent will get an up-close look at immigration issues by working with organizations including the Border Angels, a nonprofit dedicated to human rights; and Casa Familiar, a widely recognized authority on the challenges of border communities. Students will make improvements to multicultural centers, hand out bag lunches to day laborers and speak with U.S. Border Patrol agents. The UO students will camp during their week in San Diego.

After returning to campus, the four Alternative Spring Break groups will be asked to implement their newfound knowledge by finding ways to incorporate community service into their lives.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the 62 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Contact: Sean Dinno, coordinator of campus relations, UO Service Learning Program, (541) 346-4351 (office), or (408) 476-7018 (mobile throughout spring break), sdinno@uoregon.edu

Links: http://serve.uoregon.edu/programs/alternative_breaks

Media contact: Joe Mosley, media relations associate, jmosley@uoregon.edu, (541) 346-3606