During March, college students and faculty from Bowdoin College and New York University volunteered with Lutheran Services of Georgia for alternative spring break (ASB) trips. ASB trips give college students the opportunity to explore a specific theme through service and travel.
Twelve Bowdoin College students traveled from Maine to learn more about Georgia’s immigrant and refugee communities. During their week of service, the students tutored children in Clarkston, visited newly arrived refugee families, and assisted with cultural orientation classes. Bowdoin students also became the first ASB group to participate in LSG’s Friends in Hope program, serving families at El Refugio and visiting immigrant detainees at Stewart Detention Center.
Students found the trip eye-opening. One student, Alex Sukles, described his experience at Stewart as “surreal. We’re coming from Maine where there’s a foot of snow on the ground,” he said. “We arrived at Stewart and the sun is shining and there’s a manicured lawn. But there is also barbed wire and people held in cinderblock cells. Something doesn’t match up.” Alex recently returned to Georgia for a summer internship with LSG’s Refugee and Immigration Services department.
Later in the month, fourteen NYU freshmen joined LSG and other community organizations for a week of service exploring the theme of Diversity. This incredibly diverse group of students were all part of NYU’s Comm*Unity, a group which builds community among freshmen commuter students. Students spoke several languages and a few even interpreted during visits with refugee families. Along with serving at LSG, the students helped out at the Clarkston Community Center, MedShare, and Jolly Community Garden. Although this was the fifth year that NYU students came to Atlanta for ASB, it was their first year with LSG.
Students from both groups shared their motivations for service. Bowdoin student Pieter’s mother was a European immigrant from Belgium, so he wanted to learn more about the immigration experience. Sewheat, a Bowdoin student whose parents emigrated from Eritrea, worked with Somali immigrants in her hometown of Seattle and wanted to continue serving immigrant populations in other parts of the country. Myra, an NYU elementary education major, joined the trip to discover ways to promote diversity in her work. She especially enjoyed tutoring refugee children in Clarkston and learning about the unique challenges they face. Kendi, an NYU Psychology major, wanted to expand his knowledge of people and cultures from all over the world.
During their ASB trips, Bowdoin and NYU students learned more about immigrants, refugees, and diversity in Georgia. They also brought incredible passion and enthusiasm to LSG. Clients enjoyed spending time with the students and LSG staff appreciated having extra hands willing to do good work. LSG looks forward to ASB students serving with us in the future.
For more photos from the ASB trips, visit our Facebook page.