NORFOLK, Va. – Greek native Kleopatra Moditsi is among 29 Old Dominion students who will spend spring break helping refugees, people with disabilities and restoring oyster reefs as part of the University’s alternative spring break trip March 4-12.
Moditsi and Megan Trent are part of the group heading to Oinofyta, Greece to volunteer at a refugee camp that houses about 650 migrants and refugees, primarily from Aghanistan. The camp is managed by Lisa Campbell, who is from Newport News and one of the founders of a disaster-relief organization called “Do Your Part.”
“Since we have refugee resettlement programs here in Hampton Roads, my hope for this experience is that we all come back understanding the bigger picture to better serve our local communities and become stronger advocates for this population of people,” Leah Pfitzinger, a trip advisor and graduate assistant in ODU’s Office of International Programs, said to Noell Saunders of ODU.
Moditsi, an international student and native of Greece, said while she understands the culture in her country; dealing with refugees is a new experience for her.
“I know a week is not a lot of time to make a difference but we can at least encourage them,” she said. “We can show them that there is a future better than what they have.”
Moditsi is double majoring in political science and international studies. She said she couldn’t be more excited about going home to lend a hand for a good cause. The trip also lines up perfectly with her future career goals.
“It’s a chance for me to see what these people go through, have a one-on-one conversation with them and see what it feels like to be uprooted to a place you didn’t plan on going to,” Moditsi said.
Trent, a psychology student minoring in criminal justice, is an avid U.S. traveler but, unlike Moditsi, has never ventured outside the country. She said she has mixed emotions, but can’t wait to go.
“I’m anxious to experience something new, but I’m nervous because it’s a different culture unlike the United States,” Trent said. “It’s definitely a new opportunity that I didn’t have before.”
Moditsi and Trent became friends while traveling at ODU. “Kleo (Moditsi) is so helpful and now she is stuck with me,” Trent said, jokingly.
The alternative Spring Break program offers transformative community service-based experiences designed to heighten students’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance individual growth, and prepare them to become lifelong active citizens. Each trip integrates service, reflection and education while focusing on various social issues such as poverty, youth development, economic development and sustainability.
This year, three separate groups of ODU students are visiting Texas, South Carolina, and Greece.