College students forgo traditional spring breaks to provide service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Instead of taking a typical vacation on a tropical beach, more college students are choosing alternative spring-break service trips to help the poor in the United States and around the world.

Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., has offered domestic service trips for more than 18 years. Canisius students also have traveled internationally to serve people in Mexico, Jamaica, Poland, India and El Salvador during summer and winter breaks.

“Students are inspired by the service they do, and when they come back to Buffalo, they realize they didn’t have to go to Mexico to see poor people,” said Sarah Signorino, alternative spring break coordinator at Canisius. “We can see them four blocks away from school, and we can make a difference right here at home,” she told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.

Canisius students recognize the trips are a way to fulfill the school’s Jesuit mission that they be men and women for others and be servant leaders. “It provides an opportunity that I do not have during my normal routine — to meet entirely new people and be in solidarity with them for a time, listening to their stories and sharing in their life,” said Josal Diebold, a senior at Canisius.

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