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Alternative Spring Break to Return to Belize

03/12/2011

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - A group of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) students will return to Belize in Central America for an Alternative Spring Break. The 11 students will volunteer their time at several villages, which are recovering after a recent hurricane.

For the 10-day Alternative Spring Break, Spencer Moser, coordinator of the MCLA Center for Service and Citizenship, takes a group of students to help out communities in need. Last year, students traveled to Central America to participate in a community service project: They replaced a rotted-out ceiling in the kitchen of a southern Belize school.

Another recent Alternative Spring Breaks brought MCLA students to New Orleans to assist Habitat for Humanity as a response to Hurricane Katrina.

According to Moser, last year's experience in Belize was "a real eye-opener" for the students. He said the trip provided them with incredible insight into traditional Mayan culture and exposure to everyday life in the community.

Sara Katz '13, who was among last year's group, will travel to Belize this year, as well. 

"When I heard that the Alternative Spring Break trip was going back to Belize, I was ecstatic," Katz said. "Going to Belize changed my life, and I wanted to experience it all over again." 

Katz explained that on this trip the students will plant trees after a summer hurricane wiped out hundreds of orange groves. More than 90 percent of Belizean oranges are in Tropicana orange juice; when the hurricane destroyed the orange orchards, most of the country suffered. 

Besides meeting people from other parts of the world, the trip is an opportunity to expand MCLA friendships. Of the 11 students who will participate, Katz only knew four of them before the group began meeting regularly to discuss trip details. Last year, she knew none of the other students who traveled to Belize.  

"Whether or not I know people ahead of time," Katz said, "I think the trip is going to be another incredible experience."