Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alternative Winter Break

Mike and I have an adventure in store for us this December. First off, it means that we will not be able to attend Aunt Tuny's Christmas Get-together, and for that I am very sad.

BUT, we are going to be advisers for the Service and Learning Center's Alternative Winter Break to Guaymas, Sonora Mexico. Tucson and straight down to the coast. It's a long drive from Cedar City, and we do the drive in two days. About 30 people will be in 5 vans and a pickup truck. There will be just three non-students (adults?), I believe--Mike and me and the Service and Learning Center director, Pam.

I had my first informal meeting with Pam last week and had a lot of questions answered. We don't stay in tents or anything like that. It's a "nice" hotel. Guaymas is on the Baha California coast, less than 100,000 people, and the S & L folks have been going back to the same area and to the same school and orphanage twice a year for the past several years. It's a very popular trip and students who go once can't wait to go again and hope they are able to sign up for it. They have built up relationships with local people, and an American couple who live in the area. Students built a storage shed to hold equipment and supplies some years ago so have to haul less stuff across the boarder. We bring a lot of our own food, buy some locally (I hear there is WalMart there) and eat at the hotel for breakfast. We provide our own lunches from the food supplies, then eat out at a local restaurant for dinner. We do haul our own bottled water. :-) That's why they bring a pickup truck. The hotel is also the same one used in the past and the owners allow the group to use their commercial refrigerator to store perishables for lunches, so that's a big help. I'm sure the rooms are quite basic. But, Hey! I've stayed at the Blue Angel in Las Vegas--I can stay ANYWHERE! ha.

Some of the projects they do are at an elementary school with clean-up and painting, providing some supplies; an orphanage--just playing and doing any other jobs like assembling equipment or playground stuff; some building projects; some clean up; humanitarian and educational-type projects. Pam hopes to add sewing this year if she can scrounge a few old sewing machines like from schools that are upgrading and getting rid of the older models. That would be right up my ally, the sewing part. I used to know how to sew. But I know how to garden and economize with water, etc. They've taught basic water purification and some basic gardening skills in the past. They also have an evening "pool side" reflections time with the students to reflect on the day's activities, lessons learned, etc. and specifically asked for help with that aspect to make it more meaningful this Christmas season. I don't know how that will go . . . not exactly my forte.

Mike has helped the Service and Learning group learn how to lay brick and block before they left on these trips in years past, and that is how Pam came to invite us to come along as leaders/advisers. The student leaders are really in charge of the organization of it all--we're just along to help keep people from doing stupid things. I don't know that it's possible, but we'll give it a shot. Oh, and to work hard, too. There is also a group from the Technology and Construction department at SUU who will be there at the same time, but they will be doing some very specific building projects, not related to the Service and Learning projects. Mike and Boyd from Construction management are friends from long time past--we've known Boyd's family for over 30 years. Boyd's students will be building block homes, I think. We'll find out! Boyd is on Mike's SWATC advisory committee, too.

I was surprised to learn that we travel on Saturday, Dec. 11 all day to Tuscon, spend the night and then arrive on Sunday late in the afternoon. We work all day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with an A.M and an P.M shift, lunch between, dinner after. Then on Friday A.M. we head back, spending the night in Flagstaff and get home on Saturday (the day of Aunt Tuny's get-together). "We only work for 4 days?" I asked the student leaders I met with. And they both nodded and said that it was four very long, very exhausting and fulfilling days.

So, you asked, Mom, and that's the answer! Off to Mexico. Mike finally applied for his passport just today. Students have to pay, but we don't, so that's a happy thought. It won't detract too much (money-wise) from our other big family trip in the summer, especially since I don't shop and Mike won't have any time to shop while we're down there. Mike will have to have a classroom substitute for the time we're gone, but I've got annual leave out the wazoo. I wish I could give him some of mine!!

I tried to find some photos on the SUU website of the past Alternative Winter Break, but couldn't find them. Fake ones from the internet will have to do. Adios! (Oh, by the way. Neither Mike nor I speak a word of Spanish!!)

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Okay, first of all, wow! That sound like one great humanitarian project. Good for you! BUT, how dare you miss the get together! Especially on the only year that Sandi AND HER KIDS will be here (well, the boys. Jessica can't come). What a bummer! :-( We will miss you.