Olivia Faulkner ’22
Social Media & Marketing Director
This year, like everything else, Merrimack’s Send alternative break program has gone virtual. While I was not able to attend an in-person trip this year, I still took a lot away from this amazing, virtual experience.
For Send San Diego 2021, we met on Thursdays for an hour and a half for the month of February. The same is true for the March Send trip with Nazareth Farm in West Virginia. With Via International, students got to meet real-life members from the community in San Diego. Topics discussed included the U.S.- Mexico border, grassroots organizations, and Chicanx culture.
The Send program also embodies four pillars of St. Augustine: Service, Solidarity, Community-Friendship, and Reflection. “Every dimension of our alternative spring break programs seek to embody the Augustinian values that inform the academic, social, and spiritual dimensions of the Merrimack experience,” says the Send mission statement.
This year, we met weekly through a screen. But, how impactful can that actually be? More than one would think. While the group did not attend San Diego in-person and get to physically experience the Chicanx culture for ourselves, we learned the stories of migrants and those who had grown up in the boroughs of San Diego. The Via International team worked incredibly hard to provide the best experience possible despite the unfortunate circumstances, and still left a mark on me as an individual.
This has really given me, along with other students, a chance to reflect on our core values and the impact actions of one may have on someone else. I loved learning each person’s story and it really went to show the importance of listening to others and thinking of them as more than a piece of a statistic, but as an individual.
As much as I enjoy my classes, hearing experiences and learning about the “why” of human movement from South America to the United States from those who went through it themselves will have a larger impact than any graded assignment. As busy as life may get, social justice is something I have wanted to educate myself on for awhile, and I had zero hesitation when thinking about this virtual trip: I knew it was something I wanted to do.
Taking the time to learn a piece of this large puzzle was something I want to invest my time in. The values learned from this small community will be something I carry with me everywhere I go. I appreciate Via International taking the time to educate myself along with fellow Merrimack students simply about what happens in your everyday lives.
Keep an eye out for future Send trips on the Campus Ministry page, virtual or in-person you will be happy you took the time to do this. I certainly am happy I did!