Experiencing New Cultures on Spring Break

Begun in 1977, Potter's Clay is one of Westmont's longest-running traditions (photo by Katie Wright '16)

Begun in 1977, Potter’s Clay is one of Westmont’s longest-running traditions (photo by Katie Wright ’16)

About 230 Westmont students will spend spring break, March 9-16, volunteering for various service projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Salt Lake City and Mexico. About 170 students will travel from Westmont to Ensenada on March 8 for Potter’s Clay, one of Westmont’s longest-running traditions now in its 42nd year. Participants on the student-led service trip will build homes, cut hair, prepare meals, lead prayer and worship as well as provide medical and dental care for Ensenada-area residents.

Westmont students build houses and change lives in Ensenada (photo by Katie Wright '16)

Westmont students build houses and change lives in Ensenada (photo by Katie Wright ’16)

“These students want to keep learning in a more hands-on, tangible and less-theoretical way while encountering new people and cultures,” says Rebecca Boa, assistant director of campus life for ministry and outreach. “A lot of these students intentionally place themselves in uncomfortable situations. They have a heart to serve others and want to experience God in this new culture and with people on the margins of society.”

Other students stay in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Francisco during spring break, working with local organizations that minister directly to under-served populations.

One student-led ministry focuses on haircutting (photo by Katie Wright '16)

One student-led ministry focuses on haircutting (photo by Katie Wright ’16)

“The theme this year is Glory in the Neighborhood, meaning we recognize that God is already working in the cities and spaces we are entering,” says student Megan Whitney, Urban Initiative education and outreach coordinator. “Our goal is to see how God is bringing reconciliation to these cities, and we expect his glory to be incredibly evident each place we go.”

About two dozen students will travel to Salt Lake City to participate in interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.

New this year at Potter’s Clay, a cultural immersion team of eight students will live and eat with several Mexican families during the week, speaking Spanish and learning more about Mexican culture. “I look forward to seeing the depth of their learning, the relationships they form and the immersion that enhances everyone’s experience,” Boa says.

Not only are the service trips student-initiated and led, but students are required to raise money for each trip. Students return to class Monday, March 18.