USM released students for Fall Break on Oct. 19, 2017. While the majority of students fled campus for a few days of relaxation, a handful of students made their way to Birmingham, Alabama to partake in the Center for Community Engagement Alternative Fall Break Trip. Two of the students who partook in the trip, Sanchirmaa Namjilsuren and Mariam Atobiloye, happen to be international students from Nigeria.
According to the Center for Community Engagement website, “During the spring, fall, and summer breaks, the CCCE hosts alternative break trips for students who want to use their time off to visit a new place, learn more about different areas, and spend some time working with the community on a service project.” Past trips have had destinations in Baton Rouge, Louisville, and the Mississippi Delta.
Mariam Atobiloye, who came to USM last year from Mongolia to study biological sciences, and Sanchirmaa, who also came to USM two years ago to study biological sciences, say the main reason they wanted to go on the alternative fall break trip was to have a chance to get to know the society and the people that they are apart of now.
This year’s alternative fall break trip went to Birmingham, Alabama where students were able to volunteer with Christian Services, local churches, and learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Namjilsuren and Atobiloye both agreed that one of the highlights of the trip was being able to learn so much about the history of the society where they now live.
“We went to the Civil Rights Institute and were able to speak to someone that had known Martin Luther King Jr. personally. That was really cool for me,” said Atobiloye.
Namjilsuren said, “Coming from Nigeria, I never really considered myself black because everyone is black, and I knew about Martin Luther King Jr., but I never knew about everything that they went through. That was definitely one thing that I enjoyed learning about was how they got to where we are now.”
The trip wasn’t all about learning however. Participants were also able to aide local volunteer services such as Christian services by sorting food and other goods.
Both Atobiloye and Namjilsuren say they enjoyed being able to get outside of Hattiesburg and have new experiences. They also both intend on participating in future alternative break trips and suggest other students to keep an open mind, take every opportunity they can and be adventurous.