Students who cannot — or choose not to — leave New Haven for spring break can now participate in an array of cultural and philanthropic activities in the Elm City.
Rabbi Lina Grazier-Zerbarini, associate rabbi at the Joseph Slifka Center, is set to launch the first “Spring Break in New Haven” program this year. Sponsored by the Slifka Center, in conjunction with Dwight Hall and the Office of New Haven State Affairs, the program will run from March 10 to March 15 and include small projects with philanthropic organizations, dinner in different ethnic restaurants, visits to the theater and West Rock Park.
Grazier-Zerbarini, who has been involved with the Reach Out program in Latin America in the past, said that the idea for the New Haven program came to her after realizing that students who could not afford a Reach Out trip might prefer to participate in a program located in New Haven itself.
“I wanted something fun and occurred to me that students don’t know the city well beyond the six blocks around the Yale campus” she said. “The goal is to hopefully help students develop a comprehensive knowledge of New Haven … to do fun cultural things … to speak to community leaders and do community service.”
Anirudh Rr ’08 said he has stayed in New Haven for the past two years during spring break and thought that the program would be a good opportunity to get to know New Haven more intimately. Hopefully, he said, the program will help break down what he called a “deep divide” between the city and the so-called Yale bubble.
“I hope to experience New Haven and step out of the bubble and to gather information about the city,” he said.
The program’s itinerary includes events with two New Haven philanthropic organizations: Christian Community Action Inc. — for which participants will meet and collect the stories of former clients for the organization’s 40th anniversary — and Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services, which will host an ice-skating trip for participants at Ralph Walker Park with its after-school program. Other events include a biking excursion to Lighthouse Point and watching Man of La Mancha at Long Wharf Theater.
“I think it will be a lovely thing to go ice-skating with children from all over the world,” Grazier-Zerbarini said. “It will be fun doing something that is probably challenging for everyone, something we can all remember.”
Eighteen students — most of whom are international students — are currently signed up for the program, and several others expressed interest in participating only for one or two days, Grazier-Zerbarini said. But she said the program would not be available part-time to students because she feels those who only participate for a few days “won’t get the full experience.”
Matthew Du Pont ’10 said he was going to participate in the program because he would be staying in New Haven over break and thought it would be a good way to see the city.
“It looks like I’m one of the only non-international students participating,” he said. “I don’t really know what’s in New Haven, and I haven’t been to West Rock in a while, so this will be a good opportunity for me [to explore both].”
But Volkan Doda ’10, who said he will also be spending his spring break in New Haven, will probably not participate in the program.
“I don’t want to make a commitment during my break unless it is something really appealing to me, something to do with my career,” he said.
Registration for the program closed last Tuesday.