About a year ago, as a freshman, Sarah Holder fell in love with UofL’s Alternative Service Break Trips.
“I loved the service aspect, that instead of relaxing over spring or Christmas break, 12 to 20 people go and dedicate their time to others,” she said.
Fast forward to this year and Holder has taken on a leadership role with the program. As student co-director, Holder helped plan and lead a spring break trip to Chicago for 14 students. They spent the week working and learning from three nonprofit organizations that serve victims of domestic violence.
“Personally, I wanted to address domestic violence because it is a chronic issue no one is immune to,” she said.
Holder, who is an early education major, said an objective in planning the trip was to expose students to domestic violence victims from different viewpoints.
“People often have an idea of a typical domestic violence victim and I wanted to broaden that vision for all of us,” she said.
They first visited KAN WIN, a nonprofit that empowers Asian American survivors of assault and sexual violence, and helped staff prepare for their Annual Benefit Gala.
Holder said they learned about how immigrants and refugees can be particularly vulnerable for fear that leaving their abuser might affect their legal status or lead to deportation.
“These issues are hard enough as it is, but some families face additional difficulties because of their backgrounds. Leaving can be such a challenge because there are obstacles from every direction,” she said.
They also worked at Sarah’s Inn with Hispanic American women and their families.
With a judge’s permission, they sat through several domestic violence court cases, where they learned some of the legal proceedings required to get away from an abuser.
At the end of each day, the students had reflection time and debriefed their experiences together.
“Everyone could tell something that struck them,” Holder said. “These trips encourage people to find what they’re passionate about and work on that in their own community.”
For example, a student on the trip noted how many homeless people they encountered in Chicago and is now thinking about doing service work around issues of homeless and mental health.
The group always does additional service work around their chosen social justice theme in Louisville Metro, as well. This year they visited The Kristy Love Foundation, a treatment program for victims of human trafficking, where they repainted a room where participants study to earn their GEDs.