Dina Thelusma is joining nine other USFSM students in an alternative spring break.

USF Sarasota-Manatee students volunteer in Las Cruces, N.M.

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: March 13, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (March 13, 2017) – Some spring breakers prefer helping the less fortunate. At USF Sarasota-Manatee, 10 students are devoting their spring break this week to helping those in need in Las Cruces, N.M., 25 miles north of El Paso and the Mexican border city of Juarez.

Along the way, the students will learn about immigration and border issues from various perspectives, including the U.S. Border Patrol, the Department of Justice, local social service agencies and families affected by border issues.

“Our goal is to learn and experience as much as we possibly can so that we can educate our fellow students and community members and ultimately inspire positive, long-lasting change,” said Kati Hinds, an advisor accompanying the students.

Dina Thelusma, a 19-year-old biology student, said she’s looking forward to a week of “making a difference.”

“I personally love any opportunity to do service activities and service events,” the sophomore said. “It’s a great way to spend my spring break, knowing that I’m giving back and doing something for a community.”

The students are partnering with Border Servant Corps, founded in Las Cruces 1997 to address social issues in the border areas of New Mexico and southwestern Texas.

The students will stay at Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces. Returning Saturday, they’ll enjoy a week packed with activities, from visiting a community health center to attending immigration hearings to meeting an immigration lawyer and a missionary doctor who treats Juarez citizens.

“I know we’ll be working on social issues, not just for the people affected by the immigration crisis, not just for the immigrants, but for the whole community,” Thelusma said. “We’ll learn about border issues and the impacts of immigration on that area.

“Being that we are all different, we all have different perspectives, so it’s going to be interesting to see what everyone gets out of it and how we can make a difference,” she said.

Last year, Thelusma spent spring break working in a community garden, volunteering at a middle school and helping the homeless in Atlanta.

“With each of these experiences, you get something in return. Looking back at the trip to Atlanta, I can say it gave me a greater appreciation and compassion for what homeless people are going through,” she said.

“Anybody can be in that situation and I think it’s important for those of us who are blessed with plenty to give back to those who are less fortunate,” she said. “Giving a little of your time, or monetary giving, whatever you can do, it’s important for each of us to give back.”

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