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February 6, 2014

BEING A GLOBAL CITIZEN: Q&A w/ Uche Mordi about the Alternative Spring Break Program

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It seems unreal to say but spring break is right around the corner for many of you. At USC, this is a time for a quick recharge to gear up for the last push towards the end of the academic year. Many choose to spend their time at home, stay on campus and have adventures in LA, or go on a trip outside of the city. For this blog, I interviewed USC senior student, Uche (pronounced “Òochay”) Mordi, and she discussed the process of choosing to go to Guatemala with USC’s Alternative Spring Break program. She is currently finishing up her last semester at USC and will graduate as an Economics major, Natural Science minor with a Pre-Pharmacy emphasis.

Q: First of all, that’s a cool name. What does it mean?
A: Uche means “God’s decision” in Igbo, a Nigerian dialect.

Q: So, where did you go for your spring break last year?
A: I went to Guatemala, to three different cities. The three cities were Atitlán, Panahachel and Retalhuleu. We were there for ten days. The first two and a half days were all about tourism. We wanted to get acquainted with the cities. Then the rest of the time, we worked in these rural areas every day from 9am to 5pm. Most of the work involved solid labor at the schools. We performed yard work, painting, interior designing, and just the general beautifying of the schools. The trip was definitely focused on volunteerism.

Q: Why did you want to go?
A: The initial reason was I got into a different study abroad program, but that program ultimately did not work out, so I used this as an alternative. My friend recommended that I look into ASB (Alternative Spring Break).

Q: Why did you choose Guatemala?
A: The programs with ASB are divided into international or domestic trips. I definitely wanted to choose an international program because of my Spanish background. I wanted to utilize my Spanish abilities and I have never been to South America.

Q: How do you feel about global opportunities at this school and the way USC encourages growth as a global citizen?
A: USC is doing a good job at this, not only because of the high population of international students. Our study abroad programs are great mostly because of the amount of programs available that worked with my schedule. I didn’t need to be a specific major to go abroad.

Q: What do you like about the Alternative Spring Break program specifically?
A: ASB requires students to have an open mind. We have to be aware of the different culture that we are stepping into. I like how ASB prepares the students for this trip and they really emphasize the culture shock we might experience. It allowed me to expand my perspectives.

Q: Is there a favorite memory you might have? 
A: The long bus rides to the small village. I just loved hearing the personal stories of people connecting to different kids. But there is one that stands out from the rest. It is the memory I have from the last day. It really struck me how the villagers we served in those 10 days were offering us gifts for the work we’ve done, although they do not have much at all. It was amazing to see people who might not have the same resources we enjoy, but still feel the desire to give us what they can out of the kindness of their hearts. I’ll always remember that.

Q: What was one unexpected thing that happened during the trip?
A: It’s not just the connection I had with the people we were serving. I also developed a bond with the students I went on the trip with. We still keep in touch, we have T-shirts that we proudly wear that help us reminisce about the trip and it created this network of support that I still have today.

Q: Any advice you want to give to anyone who wants to study abroad?
A: Don’t be afraid to go into unknown. There are many other avenues at USC where you can bond with people and create lifelong friendships besides the more popular options. Explore different niches and don’t fixate yourself into one group. This idea just speaks to the power of the Trojan community and how expansive it can be. It’s more than just a professional community; it’s a personal network of support throughout one’s lifetime.

For more information on USC Alternative Spring Break, please click here.

2 Comments

  1. Alex Karibyan says:

    “…go into the unknown” sealed the deal

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