The Center for Student Leadership Ethics & Public Service at NC State sends students who love to serve out into the world on what are known as Alternative Service Breaks. Students can choose between fall, winter or spring break and between programs that feature different countries or more locally-focused service projects. The stories in this series are just a few of many students who will be going out and developing leadership and service skills over spring break, which begins Monday.
E’lexis Brewer, Dominican Republic
Over spring break, E’lexis Brewer will lay aside her student role and don her teaching one.
Brewer, a senior from Powder Springs, Georgia, is traveling to the Dominican Republic for spring break with Outreach360, an organization that works to improve education in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic for first through eighth grade. This education can include English, literacy or health education.
“This year, my group and I will be working with children in Monte Cristi helping to teach English and Spanish-based curriculum,” says Brewer. “We will engage with the children everyday: teaching, learning, and interacting outside of the school.”
Brewer was inspired to take on the Dominican Republic this year because of her trip to Guatemala last spring break.
“In Guatemala, I saw the thirst for education that many children have and wanted to foster that in the Dominican Republic as well,” says Brewer. “We do not only teach the children but they teach us as well.”
Brewer, a sociology major with a Spanish minor, is interested in furthering her understanding of Latin culture as well.
“I have always loved the culture and really loved the experience (in Guatemala),” says Brewer. “I wanted to have that same experience elsewhere so I chose the Dominican Republic. There exists strong pride in Latin culture and I was very intrigued by the customs and traditions which I also hope to learn this time.”
Brewer found out about CSLEPS because of work study. She was assigned to their office and found out about their alternative break program and immediately applied to take the trip to Guatemala..
“Honestly, I cannot describe in enough words how eye opening and wonderful that experience was,” says Brewer. “You go on this trip and you think it will be ‘fun’ but you don’t realize how extremely rewarding and fulfilling it is and you share that experience with people who understand and get that same feeling.”
Brewer doesn’t think the week is too short for life-changing experiences either.
“It sounds crazy to say I experienced so much in one week but it’s true,” says Brewer. “I still reflect on it today and created great friendships that I maintain today.”
She wants that same experience for herself and her team this spring break. That’s part of why she signed up to be a co-leader. Brewer hopes that her team takes away applicable experiences and leadership skills.
“I hope that my team and I come back with a better understanding of the Dominican culture and reflect that experience here in the United States in some way,” says Brewer. “The experience does not have to be profound but my hope and expectation is that everyone comes back with something to take away from the experience whether it is understanding privilege or customs and traditions. I want that experience to translate here and have some effect on how my team feels here.”