Tucker, DOC lead alternative trips over break

by Erin Lee | 3/28/16 6:47pm

While many students spent spring break posting photos of tropical vacations or adventures closer to home, Regina Yan ’19 was clinging to a mountain ledge trying not to get blown away.

Her rock-climbing trip in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada with the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club was one of many unconventional trips that Dartmouth students participated in over the past week. Organizations from the Dartmouth Outing Club to the William Jewett Tucker Center organized trips both within the United States and abroad for a variety of social justice and outdoor-oriented students.

Yan said she was introduced to rock climbing during DOC First-Year Trips and “absolutely fell in love with it.” She went on a rock-climbing trip in Arizona over winter break and jumped on the chance to climb again during spring break. The group of 24 students spent seven to eight hours each day climbing in the area and hung out together in the evenings, eating dinner, singing campfire songs and playing games.

“Having the opportunity to spend spring break with this amazing group of people, doing what I love, is something I would never give up,” Yan said.

The DOC organized several other trips through its subgroups, such as Cabin and Trail’s backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon and Ledyard Canoe Club’s annual whitewater kayaking trip to North Carolina.

For Greg Partridge ’16, this spring break marked his eighth trip with Cabin and Trail. The group left for the Grand Canyon right after finals and hiked and camped in the canyon for about five days. More than half of the 18 trip members were Cabin and Trail leaders, which helped the trip go particularly smoothly, Partridge said.

In one instance, a trip member bruised her ankle while hiking, and within a matter of seconds, everyone in the group rushed to her aid, providing water and first aid, he said.

Partridge said he wanted to go on the trip because he had never seen the Grand Canyon before and many of his closest friends are part of Cabin and Trail. He noted that backpacking provides a break from Dartmouth’s hectic schedule.

“It’s both relaxing and challenging,” he said. “It exercises you both mentally and physically in ways you don’t get academically.”

The Ledyard trip is a chance for Ledyard’s members — especially freshmen — to get to know other club members and be exposed to beginning whitewater kayaking, Chachi Riesco ’17 said.

“The trip really is a bonding experience for incoming people — it’s the best part of the club,” she said.

During the break, 13 students also traveled to Washington D.C. as part of a trip organized by the Tucker Center studying the intersection of race, faith and social justice.

The group visited Howard University — a historically black college — to explore aspects of race on campus. The trip also canvassed the local, predominantly black neighborhood for signatures, said Heeju Kim ’19, a student who went on the trip. Additional programming included visits to a mosque, a synagogue and a church to evaluate different faith traditions and how they intersect.

“That was really cool because I feel like it’s a little harder to find people who are really religious on campus — or at least that’s been my experience,” Kim said. “It was very interesting to travel with people who had very strong opinions on faith.”

In regard to social justice, the group toured the White House and the Senate and visited the offices of Rep. Ann McLane Kuster ’78 of New Hampshire and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ’88 of New York.

Anirudh Udutha ’18, another participant, said he was interested in the trip’s focus on intersectionality and how different factors converge to influence identity.

“That was really important in terms of trying to understand how we can be productive or effective activists for social justice,” he said.

Kim said she was looking for an opportunity that would sustain intellectual growth over the break, and the trip encouraged the type of deep, intellectual discussions she has not found elsewhere at Dartmouth.

“What we were talking about was so intensely personal, and everybody had to be extremely vulnerable,” she said.

Rachel Dokko ’18, who went on the trip and works for the Tucker Center, said the trip was one of the best experiences she has had with a Dartmouth program.

“I think it has changed my outlook on a lot of things,” she said. “I didn’t have much experience with the political process, or the justice system, or anything like that. But now I’m thinking about being more involved in community organizing, campaigning, things like that.”

Dokko added the Tucker Center was considering not organizing a spring break trip this year as it transitions into its new programs, and Tucker interim multi-faith advisor Leah Torrey had to work hard to make the trip happen.

Theophila Lee ’16 and Amy Liang ’17 traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam with Geisel School of Medicine professor Joseph Rosen and 47 other medical professionals as part of the Reconstructive International Cooperation Exchange program. The group performed surgeries, including reconstructive procedures, tumor removals and cancer surgery, Lee said. Rosen, who founded the project, goes on the trip every spring break and sometimes brings interested undergraduate students, Liang said.

“It was very eye-opening and inspiring,” Liang said. “I found microtia cases, where surgeons made ears out of rib cartilage, to be the most interesting.”

Lee and Liang also helped with an SMS-based disease surveillance and outbreak detection project in northern Vietnam. To Lee, being able to improve Vietnamese health care policy through this mechanism was the most fulfilling aspect of the trip.

“What I took away, when we went to the rural health communes, is that even if they are understaffed or under-resourced, we still get to see how they try to make it work,” she said. “They’re very efficient with their resources.”