Spring Break is In Sight!

I’m looking forward to the end of my last class this Friday for a different reason than most Loyola students. Yes, a break from school will be nice, but more importantly, SBO (Spring Break Outreach) is only days away.

Last week I was barely in existence, shuffling from midterm to paper to midterm and back again, averaging about 4 hours of sleep and staying awake during the day only due to the constant presence of coffee.

What I came to conclude from my “hell week,” which began the previous weekend as I worked on my essay midterm for my Statesmen & Tyrants class, is that we all have those times…in life, but especially in college.

In a perfect world, I would go to class, go to work, do my extracurriculars, and still have time to make dinner with my roommates every night and get a good eight or nine hours of sleep a night.  Notice I said a perfect world, though; don’t ever mistake this scenario for the reality of my life.

The fact is, I usually have to choose between all of those things listed above, and depending upon the day, what I have going on, and how I’m feeling, different things win out.  Well, last week, midterms and the stress of classes won out.

But I’m much more pleased with what’s winning out this week: preparations for SBO.  SBO stands for Spring Break Outreach, a program through CCSJ, the Center for Community Service and Justice. During SBO, 80 students spend their spring break at 8 different sites throughout the country for a week of service and education. Each site focuses on a different social justice issue.

Some of our sites include Immokalee, Florida (migrant farm labor), New Orleans, Louisiana (racial justice), West Virginia (environmental justice), and Kentucky (rural poverty).  Last year, as a first-year student, I traveled to Newark, New Jersey for a week learning about urban poverty, and the city’s historical and social context, while serving in the city.

With my SBO group in Newark last year.

In the spring of 2012, though, I took a leap and decided to apply to be an SBO site leader for 2013.  Each site has a student leader, 10 student participants, and a staff participant. I’m leading the Baltimore site on prison reform and I could not be more excited about what lies ahead for my group.  We’re the first to leave on Friday afternoon, as soon as classes end, and we’ll be spending our weekend doing a workshop with inmates at a local prison, with a program called Alternatives to Violence.  We’ll then be spending the rest of our week in Baltimore serving at a number of programs relating to re-entry into the community for individuals exiting prison.

Since September I’ve been meeting with my fellow site leaders and our director, forming a bond that moved me to tears at our final pre-SBO meeting on Sunday. We’ve educated ourselves about our issues, educated each other, and at weekly meetings, educated our site groups.

At this point, I feel very ready and prepared for the 8 days of SBO, and I am really really looking forward to it. All I can say is that I hope the participants in my group all feel the same way. I know it’s scary when you don’t know what to expect in a situation like that.  Personally, I was scared to death before leaving for Newark last March. And to an extent, I still largely don’t know what to expect during SBO Baltimore next week. But that’s just part of the experience, and something we come to expect.

SBO means giving freely of yourself and your spring vacation to be present with a group of your peers, serve others, and serve yourself and your community by learning through firsthand experience. We can predict very little of what will happen throughout the week of SBO. We pack t-shirts and jeans, basic foodstuffs and water bottles, and no makeup or hair supplies. With the intention of living simply, we embark together, as a group of ten in Baltimore and a group of 80 throughout the country, in an effort to experience humanity.

Check back post-Spring Break for another post about how it all went!

Until, then, peace, my friends.

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