Goodwill trip to Ethiopia set for spring break

BY PASCALE ANGLADE
Contributor

County College of Morris offers its students a chance to be the next generation of global citizens by providing educational tours and school trips around the world and this spring break is no exception.  

This year’s trip is scheduled during spring break, from March 10 to March 19.  The destination is Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

Sponsored by the criminal justice department and the Criminal Justice Club, this voyage is open to everyone from CCM students, faculty and staff, to family and friends.  The cost is approximately $2,500 and includes flights, hotel, three meals a day, all activities, guided tours and transfers. A Criminal Justice Club member will be accompanying the traveling team.

The travel agency, InConTra Inc., has been providing Santa Goodwill tours since 1985 for volunteers interested in doing benevolent work around the world.

“This is the third CCM spring break trip, the first time we went to Guatemala, last year to Peru,” said Dr. William Solomons, assistant chair and professor of criminal justice at CCM.  

Generally, these trips occurred during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and the team dressed as Santa for the goodwill visits in November, but now CCM goes during spring break instead.

“Spring break is not Santa, but they will do the same things,” said Solomons.  

Last year, the travel group visited a troubled high school outside of Lima.  They sat in the classrooms, met the teachers, played soccer and volleyball with the kids.  They  brought them sports equipment, toys, and exchanged pictures on Facebook and other social media.

This is not quite a vacation, and is not for the comfort zone addicts.

“In Ethiopia, travelers will be visiting either a senior center, an orphanage, a daycare, or a hospital,” said Solomons. Beside the goodwill visits, there will also be other enriching activities such as sightseeing tours with a local guide. “Everyone who has been there agrees that it’s the most spectacular trip they’ve been to,” he said.

The experience of another country alone is enough to entice students.

“If I could, I’d go to this trip,”said Kosim Akmarov, a business major at CCM. “It’s cool to experience a new culture, a beautiful country, and different types of foods.”

Ethiopia’s rich culture is varied. It is the oldest Christian civilization in the world having embraced Christianity in the 4th Century, long before Europe, but both Christians and Muslims live there peacefully. Additionally, some people believe that the Lost Ark shown in the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and King Solomon’s gold mines are hidden somewhere in Ethiopia.

The capital city Addis Ababa, with a population of approximately 7 million, is a buzzing hub of economic, social and political activity. No matter the economic or social circumstances, Ethiopia is a destination where spreading goodwill is most welcome.

One CCM student, Stephanie Garcia, is fulfilling a long-time goal of visiting the continent of Africa by embarking on this journey.

“This is the first time I’m going to Africa and I’m super excited,” Garcia said. “I always said if I could pick one place in the world it would be Africa, I can’t wait to see this beautiful and different culture. I am going by myself, but I’m okay with that because I love meeting new people.”

All U.S. citizens attending the trip are required to have a passport valid for at least six months for international travel. The flight itself may be daunting; flying from Newark to Addis Ababa takes approximately 13 hours.

“The flight leaves Friday night, gets there Saturday evening, and comes back the next Sunday. It’s basically the entire spring break” Solomons said.

Spending break experiencing a foreign culture while engaging in goodwill activities just might be the perfect adventure for some.

“What makes the trip even more special is that we get to interact with and help the kids there,” Garcia said. “I can’t wait to see the smiles on their faces.”

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