Wellesley Students Make a Difference on Wintersession Alternative Break Trips

January 31, 2019
Students pose with large crayons.

This Wintersession, 35 Wellesley students participated in three Alternative Break trips organized by Civic Engagement, a division of Wellesley Career Education. During the trips—which focused on health and well-being, urban development, and community organizing in three Northeastern locations—students engaged in hands-on volunteer work and group reflection, putting the Wellesley tradition of service into action. For the first time, the trips were run entirely by student leaders on Wellesley’s Ministrare Council under the direction of Diana Lam ’20.

“Each year, students select which social justice issues to focus on and build trips around, and it is always powerful to see what they create,” Lam said. “This year, I am especially proud of our Wintersession coordinators for being the first site leaders to lead Alternative Break trips without staff members. I cannot wait to see what our Spring Break coordinators have in store."

In Greenfield, N.H., 12 students partnered with Crotched Mountain School, an organization that supports people with disabilities. They worked with children at the school and helped sort supplies for its farm school program. Ministrare coordinators Suyoung Choi ’20 and Antonia Rocchio ’20 led the trip.

The Washington, D.C., group focused on urban development. Led by Vanessa Delarca ’21 and Tara Wattal ’21, students worked with Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP), which teaches participants about issues such as food insecurity and social connectedness for seniors and encourages them to serve actively in their communities. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this group of nine volunteered to paint walls and clean at a local high school.

In Boston, 14 students volunteered with a range of community organizing groups. Their partners included the women’s shelter Rosie’s Place, where they served lunch; Cradles to Crayons, where they assembled “KidPacks” of clothing and other items for low-income and homeless children; and More than Words, where they sorted inventory of donated books and materials. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the students went to Boston Latin School to put together books and learning materials for people learning English. Students also met with Katjana Ballantyne, president of the Somerville Board of Aldermen, and Dimple Rana, a community organizer and activist in Revere, Mass., to learn about the role service can play in their careers.

Lydia MacKay ’19 and Emiley Kim ’21 led the Alternative Break trip to Boston. “This Alternative Break made me think critically about the relationship between direct service nonprofits and policy-making in government,” said Kim. “While nonprofits do incredibly important work, it is important to consider the root causes of different problems that underserved and marginalized communities face and strive to create long-term solutions.”

“I participated in an Alternative Break last year, and what really drew me back was the community of students who are so committed and passionate about serving their communities,” said MacKay.

Photo: The 14 members of the Boston trip worked with the nonprofit Cradles to Crayons. With this organization, they sorted donations and assembled “KidPacks” of clothing and other items for low-income and homeless children.