Published: Fall 2009 in Feature Story

A Day in the Inner-City

Two sociology professors take students to Los Angeles for a day
so they can put their learning and their faith into action

A Day in the Inner City

Students sort through clothing at a Los Angeles thrift store.

Ten Westmont students left the classroom behind in October and traveled to Los Angeles for a day of service and learning in the field with sociology professors Xuefeng Zhang and Judy Alexandre.

In the morning, the group volunteered at a thrift store that supports the work of World Impact, a ministry in the inner-city of Los Angeles. Tasks included sorting clothing and other donations and sweeping and dusting. During the visit, students heard about the programs World Impact offers to the local community.

At lunch time, students made sandwiches and took them to Macarthur Park, where they shared food with homeless people they met there. Later they walked down Skid Row. “It was very sad and eye-opening to see how much poverty there was,” Erica Martin ’10 says. “I walked the streets and held my breath at the stench of loneliness, rejection and homelessness,” Aimee Wong ’10 says. “God loves his children, all of them.”

Back at World Impact, the students heard hopeful and inspiring messages from men who had been homeless, but who changed their lives.

“We were immersed in a culture far different from that of Westmont or Montecito,” Seth Monroe ’10 says. “Schools were all fenced in, houses had bars on the windows, and the scenery was very bare. The leader from World Impact said he believed in change from the inside — leaders from the inner-city helping alleviate violence rather than change coming from outsiders. Some of us got into an interesting conversation about birds with a homeless man and his girlfriend. It was cool just talking to someone on a friendly basis rather than a me-helping-you basis.”

“The Day of Service was such a wonderful, stretching experience,” Martin says. “It was a beautiful day full of sharing, serving and learning. It made me want to do much more to show people in poverty how much God loves them.”

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