Greatest (break) of all time

Adam Montgomery

The Center for Community and Engaged Learning Alternative Breaks team wrapped up a successful and busy week across the nation.

Weber Students are seen cleaning up and prepping the new goat shelter.
Weber Students are seen cleaning up and prepping the new goat shelter. Photo credit: Zadoth Vazquez

According to the Alternative Breaks page on Weber State’s website, this program allows students to participate in mission trips during spring break and gives them a broader view of the world around them.

This spring, the students had the option to pick from four different projects focusing on environmental sustainability, health and food insecurity, Native American issues and local youth and civil rights.

Students went to San Francisco, California, the Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, Fort Worth, Texas, and O’ahu, Hawaii. There was also a local option for those wanting to stay close to home in Ogden and Salt Lake City.

These trips ranged in price from $500 to $1500 and can be broken up into a payment plan.

Weber Students put up a flaming W at the goat farm.
Weber Students put up a flaming W at the goat farm. Photo credit: Zadoth Vazquez

The CCEL Alternative Breaks team said students would experience pre-break, on-break and post-break education and become an active citizen of world and engaged with community issues.

The pre-break prepared the students for the experience by providing education and training about site-specific social issues. The students also go through group building and “pre-flect” on their goals and expectations for the trip.

During the trip and break, students were encouraged to look at the root cause of social issues and evaluate their roles in the community by getting involved through direct service and reflecting on their work, furthering their education on social issues in the area.

Post-break reflection helped students find different ways to continue their supporting their local communities and finding new ways to continue to serve nearby.

Zadoth Vazquez, the director of the Alternative Breaks and a member of the CCEL Student Team, participated locally in assisting the Salt Lake City community. Vazquez made it a point to have one of the trips be accessible to all students by having a low-cost and local option with the least time constraint.

A close-up shot of one of the identification tags on a goat.
A close-up shot of one of the identification tags on a goat. Photo credit: Utah Refugee Goats
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Students devoted their labor and time to the Volunteers of America Youth Resource Center and the Lincoln Elementary Promise South Salt Lake after-school program on this local trip.

The VOA Youth Resource Center provides food, emergency shelter, case management, trauma response and care for homeless and at-risk teens. Donations and volunteer opportunities with the Youth Resource Center are year-round.

Promise South Salt Lake is an after-school program consisting of 14 community centers. These community centers focus on providing after-school meals, tutoring, enrichment activities and more. In addition, the Lincoln Elementary after-school program emphasizes many interest-based clubs for the children to choose from.

Working with the youth “was an emotional and supportive environment to see everyone share a bit of their life stories and how we can apply it to our communities to make an impact,” Vazquez said.

Students then took to the Utah Refugee Goats 80-acre farm outside downtown Salt Lake City to further their spring break assistance.

Utah Refugee Goats runs an independent, sustainable, non-profit refugee-led goat farm to empower the refugee communities of Utah while providing a culturally appropriate meat source.

The URG was started by three East African communities collaborating with the International Rescue Committee. The URG has since become wholly owned and operated by the refugee communities it is meant to assist.

A glamour shot of a goat perched atop some red rock.
A glamour shot of a goat perched atop some red rock. Photo credit: Utah Refugee Goats

The group kicked off a five-week long project expanding the farm and providing more shelters for the upcoming baby goats. The pregnant goats aren’t due for over a month. However, one of the pregnant goats gave birth while the volunteers assisted.

“That was a wild, exhilarating and beyond amazing experience,” Vazquez said. “It was nothing like I’d ever seen before.”

Utah Refugee Goats is currently halfway to its goal donation amount of $85,000 raised to provide scholarship funding and assistance to Utah’s refugee communities and refugee students.

Goats and kids are seen enjoying the nice weather.
Goats and kids enjoy the nice weather. Photo credit: Utah Refugee Goats

Utah Refugee Goats is currently seeking volunteers for multiple positions on the farm. People who are interested should fill out the volunteer interest form located on their website.

To learn more about community involvement, future service trips and applying for next year’s alternative spring breaks, contact CCEL.