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Spring Break Takes On New Meaning For These NDNU Students

Belmont, CA, March 5, 2008 — Ah the joys of spring break. The term conjures up visions of warm sunshine and endless parties in places like, Las Vegas, Cancun, and Hawaii.

Not so for eight students from Note Dame de Namur University. They will be spending most of their vacations serving others at Dorothy's Place, a service organization in Salinas, CA. that serves the poor and homeless of Monterey County. Dorothy’s Place, which is run by a community of Franciscan workers, is named after Dorothy Day, a journalist and social activist who co-founded of the Catholic Worker movement.

They will spend their days preparing breakfast at lunch in Dorothy’s Kitchen, serving the food to the poor and homeless individuals who come seeking a free meal, assisting at with the after-school daycare program, which is largely populated by the children of migrant workers, tutoring and teaching crafts. They will also have contact with the women who are served dinner and provided shelter in the evening, as well as the migrant worker community.

For several of the students, the experience is part of their Theologies of Liberation class, taught by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Marianne Delaporte.  For Delaporte's students, their work at Dorothy's Place will a chance to experience liberation theology, a movement that emerged from the Church in Latin America which emphasizes the idea of God as a liberator and on the side of the oppressed.

“The idea is that the students will integrate their readings about oppressed peoples with their work in the community,” explains Delaporte.

“Having the opportunity to work with migrant farmers and the homeless helps students learn about social justice and solidarity. They get to experience first-hand some of the central concerns around our mission and Catholic social teaching.” said Kathryn Racine-Jones, Director of NDNU’s Center for Spirituality and Social Change, who will be accompanying the students.

On the night of March 12, students will acquire ingredients, plan, and prepare dinner for the women who will be spending the night at the shelter. The second night, they will travel to a local college, where they will partake in a hunger banquet. The guests are fed proportionally what people all around the world eat. Therefore, many diners will receive just rice and beans, while a select few will enjoy steak and vegetables. The selection is random, but is intended to be a dramatic example of the state of our world.

“I hope to learn more about what places like Dorothy’s Place does for the community. Also to gain a better understanding of the different realities that the different communities there live through,” said Emmy Gandeza, a senior majoring in sociology.

Junior Diana Enriquez adds: “I am looking forward to the hunger banquet and   working with the kids in the youth program. I also am looking forward to working along side by side with students here at NDNU. This will be a great experience for all of us and perhaps next year we can take more students.