Co-Director of Alternative Service Breaks– ELSB @ UofL
Sophmore Education major @ UofL
Dedicated, passionate, considerate, “mom”
Can you explain your position and role in this service trip?
“My position for this organization is as Alternative Service Breaks co-director. This means I am the administrative part of the board and work with our advisor Pam Curtis and my other co-director Angel to make decisions for ASB. As co-director, I also oversee all ASB’s committee chairs, board members, and trip participants to ensure that they get the most out of this program. For this specific trip, I was the trip leader for Spring Break 2018. I coordinated every aspect of the trip from where we were going to what we were doing.”
What does domestic violence mean to you/what was your inspiration for this trip? Why did you pick this service site?
“I wanted to do a trip on domestic violence and work with amazing organizations so Chicago was a logical choice. Domestic Violence is a chronic issue and no one is immune to its effects. It is pervasive in that it affects individuals regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, or socioeconomic class. The reason I planned this trip was to make students on campus more aware of the issue of domestic violence. I think many times we get this idea of a stereotypical domestic violence victim and I wanted the trip participants to see domestic violence in a different light. That is why I chose to work with organizations that helped with victims of domestic violence that were already part of a marginalized group. At KAN WIN, we helped survivors and their families from Asian American backgrounds. This allowed the trip participants to see additional challenges that an immigrant faces while trying to leave a domestic violence situation. Other organizations we worked with included Sarah’s Inn that worked with Hispanic Americans and the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic that helped people from lower socioeconomic statuses. This allowed us to explore how domestic violence crosses cultures and has different effects on different individuals.”
Before this trip, what did you think of when you thought of the “master narrative” of domestic violence? What aspects of this trip challenged your previous conceptions of domestic violence?
“This trip questioned many of my preconceived notions about domestic violence. I largely based my idea of domestic violence on what I had experienced as a survivor. However, working with domestic violence victims from already marginalized categories made me realize the vast effects that domestic violence has outside of emotional and physical abuse. Many of the victims we worked with could not reach out for help from their abusers due to immigration status, financial reasons like potential homelessness, or religious reasons like being shunned from their community.”
What was the most rewarding aspect of leading this trip?
“The most rewarding part of this trip was watching all 14 of us be truly interested in learning about domestic violence and discovering things we never had thought about. Every evening after service, we did group reflections where we debriefed about the day. My favorite thing was listening to all the participants be able to tell me at least one thing they learned or challenged their conception of domestic violence at the end of every day. This way, each trip participant was able to hear 13 other perspectives about the service we did that day besides their own personal account.”
How has this trip helped you grow personally?
“This trip was a blessing. I was able to open up and share my whole story as a domestic violence survivor to a group of people that I really trust. Yes, we had an amazing time on the trip and had many fun memories but I now have 13 people that I am forever connected to because they went through this immersive learning experience with me.”
What is something important to you about domestic violence that you would like to share?
“If there is one take away I want people to know about domestic violence is you can never fully understand what a person is going through. Domestic violence isn’t identical for every victim and every victim faces unique challenges that can impact them for a lifetime. It is important to remember that it is never easy to leave a domestic violence situation. The “why does she stay” question is irrelevant because you can never fully understand the strings that tie a victim to their abuser. It is up to the victim to cut those strings and we as a culture need to indoctrinate a more loving/caring approach to domestic victims in order to let them know they are not alone.”
The Service Coordinators develop active citizens on our campus and in our community through immersive service-based trips and days of service.
Yelena Bagdasaryan and Loghan Currin