"My concept of poverty changed"InsideVandy has this recap of a student's experience in Uruguay as a part of Vanderbilt Hillel's Alternative Spring Break, which immerses students in service. According to its web site, Vanderbilt Hillel is "the center of Jewish life at Vanderbilt, serving the religious, social, and educational needs of the undergraduate and graduate Jewish student communities."
Hillel has spent previous Spring Breaks in other Latin American countries, including Mexico (recap here and picture here), Cuba, and Argentina (video recap here).
Excerpts from the Uruguay recap:
We went to connect with the large Jewish population in Montevideo but also to somehow accomplish the arduous task of building four houses for four impoverished families before we left the country.Excerpts from the Mexico recap:
My concept of poverty changed. The impoverished individuals I saw had family, community, love and hope. Families worked alongside one another and laughed.
That is to say, what part, if any, of Judaism provides the impetus to want to help others? Students read a number of Jewish readings during the course of the week that dealt with such concepts as the significance that every human being is created in the image of G-d, the impact of globalization on the world community and the importance of action accompanying thought.
To be a good person, it is important to give as much as you can and then give some more.