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Southwest Airlines Flies UCR Students to Florida

UC Riverside Students Taking Off for Florida Conference to Showcase "Eastside Story," Cited as National Model for Service Learning

Students Flying Southwest Airlines at Ontario International Airport Thursday, March 24th at 8:30 a.m.

(March 23, 2004)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- High school and university students, some of whom have never been on a plane before, will fly to Florida Thursday to showcase an original play called "Eastside Story," which has been cited as a national model for service learning.

The play, written by youth from Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood, is a project of the University Eastside Community Collaborative Center for Public Service. The students, and the teachers and faculty who assisted them with the production, will be invited presenters at the National Service Learning Conference in Orlando, Florida between March 27 and 31. The National Youth Leadership Council organizes the conference.

Brian Brophy, lecturer and Rickerby Hinds, assistant professor, both from the UC Riverside Department of Theatre, directed 32 local high school students from Poly, Lincoln and North and five undergraduate students from UC Riverside. The play, performed at UC Riverside in January in front of 470 people, uses live music, digital art and dance from the 1950s, through the ‘90s to tell the story of Riverside’s Eastside as seen through the eyes of its youth, a vision gathered through personal interviews with Eastside residents.

“The students owned the stage at the final performance,” said co-director Brophy. “They took control of the play and made it their own by telling the story with commitment and urgency. I was very proud and moved by their storytelling ability, and the way they shared with the audience the culminating moment of our five-month investigation.”

Lucia Ortega-Villasana, director of the UECC, said “Eastside Story” turned out to be an innovative public service message offering views on tolerance, respect, celebration of community, and non-violence. She said this was an ideal service learning project because it combines hands-on service to the community with genuine academic goals that meet state requirements. The Cesar Chavez Foundation and the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism funded “Eastside Story.”

Ortega-Villasana said she will accompany 12 high school students, four UC Riverside undergraduates and five teachers and faculty members to Orlando, FL for the conference presentation. “It is an exciting time for these students, some of whom have never been on an airplane before, to think about going across the country to present in front of about 2,000 educators,” Ortega-Villasana said. She said she is grateful to Southwest Airlines for providing free airfare for the students involved. “Some of these kids would not have had the opportunity to go without that generosity,” she said.

John Coelho, Southwest Airlines Area Marketing Manager, said "These students portray such a powerful message about our community, and Southwest Airlines is delighted to help them share this story with those on the other side of the country."

Other trip sponsors include the UCR Foundation, the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, Mi Tortilla and the Riverside County Credit Union.

Founded in 1994, the UECC Center For Public Service is currently administered through the UCR Chancellor's Office, the UCR Vice Chancellor For Student Affairs, the Riverside Unified School District Superintendent, Riverside City Mayor and Riverside City Manager. The UECC Center For Public Service hosts a wide range of programs that offer multiple opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage with each other, our local school district and with the larger community, especially in the ethnically diverse and economically challenged Eastside.



The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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