UKRAINIAN Spring Break?!
Blogger: Jeremy Childs
Hey guys! About a week ago I returned to Oxy from my incredible Alternative Spring Break trip to Odessa, Ukraine! Odessa is one of the largest municipalities in all of Ukraine, a major port city on the coast of the Black Sea with a population of over one million people! If you want to read about my trip to Odessa and how I was given the opportunity to go on it, read more after the jump.
I first heard about the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program back in December of 2011 from a friend on the Executive Board of Occidental Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus. She told me that the Hillel at USC had started allowing students from Occidental to apply for a spot on their ASB trip to Odessa, Ukraine. Not only that, but the price of the entire trip itself—plane tickets, transportation, hotel, food expenses, etc.—was lowered to only $700 for the week! I had never traveled outside the country before, and so the chance to do so at such a reasonable price with one of my favorite college organizations was too good to pass up.
The trip followed an itinerary set by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a nonprofit organization that provides aid to diasporic Jewish communities around the world. Our days were packed with things to do, ranging from touring the Odessa Holocaust Museum to attending Shabbat at one of the two orthodox synagogues in the city. Each day also featured a different form of service for the Jewish community of Odessa: we purchased and delivered food to elderly residents; we visited Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans and listened to them tell their stories; and we facilitated activities with some of the Jewish youth at Odessa's Beit Grand Jewish Cultural Center (picture #9). In spite of all this work, we still found time at night to have fun with our Ukrainian peers. We went bowling with them, sang karaoke, attended an opera at the famous Odessa Opera House (picture #5), and more! Below are a few of my favorite photographs from the trip:
Overall, the trip was nothing short of life-changing. One conclusion that I’ve drawn from it is that this is only the beginning of my international travels. I’m already thinking about where I want to go next, especially for my semester abroad during Junior Year. It’s a tough decision…the world is just too big! Luckily, I have a long time to mull over my options before I finally have to choose.
That’s all for now! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.