University Ministry

Drop Shadow

Tijuana Day Trips


Why are these trips called Breaking Ground?

We spend the day with the people of La Morita, one of the poorest and fastest-growing colonias (neighborhoods) in Tijuana. Many people have come from all over Mexico in search of a better life but struggle with the reality of low wages and still live in houses with dirt floors and no running water. We literally break ground when we work to improve these conditions. At the same time, the grounds of our hearts break open to become more loving and dedicated to service. We go not just to help these families improve the quality of their lives, but to witness to Jesus' response to the question "Who is my neighbor?" Quite literally, the people of Tijuana are our neighbors, but they are also those most in need.  

What does the day in Tijuana include?

  • Meet at 7:30am for brief orientation and hour drive to the San Eugenio mission
  • Physical labor project (planting trees, patching a roof, laying concrete, etc.)
  • Share lunch and learn more about life in  La Morita
  • Visiting with people of La Morita either in homes, or a residential facility for people living with HIV/AIDS, or a shelter for migrant men closer to downtown
  • View border fence in two different places and peer at the U.S. from the Mexican  side, learn about the history and impact of the border, and pray for people who have lost their lives trying to cross
  • Dinner (provided)
  • Reflect as a group on the impact of the experience
  • Due to unpredictability with border wait times, it is difficult to know exactly when we will be able to return to USD, but previous groups have usually returned between 9:30 and 11:00pm.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

People communicate in many different ways other than using just the language of their country.  

That being said, we will translate what is necessary.  Even if you don’t know any Spanish, you can still have meaningful encounters with the people in Tijuana. 

Trust us, you will know more Spanish by the time the day is over!

What do I need to bring?

A heart willing to serve, humility, flexibility and a sense of humor and:

  • Valid passport
  • Water bottle
  • Bag Lunch

How do I sign up?

Email Maria Gaughan at with your phone number and year in school and/or graduate program.  Know that these trips do fill up quickly so the sooner you contact us, the more likely there will still be a spot for you. We begin taking sign-ups on the 1st of the month.

Graduate students please sign up with the Grad/Law University Minister Mark Peters at

Fall 2014

  • September 27 (Signs ups begin September 1)
  • October 18 (Sign ups begin October 1)
  • November 8 (Sign ups begin November 1)

Spring 2015

  • February 14 (Sign ups begin February 1)
  • April 11 (Sign ups begin April 1)
  • May 2 (Sign ups begin May 1)

Does it cost anything?

We ask for $5 that will go directly to the needs of the community. Bring this to Aleisha in UC 238 by the Wednesday before that Saturday's trip to confirm your spot.

Can I come more than once?

Absolutely! You are always invited back.  Our friends across the border enjoy seeing their friends again and again, and you might be surprised by something new upon your return.

How else can I be involved?

  1. University Ministry offers an extended experience over Spring Break called Tijuana Spring Breakthrough. Check out all the Romero Immersion Programs here:
  2. University of San Diego is home to the TransBorder Institute, which is dedicated to promoting border-related scholarship.

To sign up, contact Erin Bishop at 619-260-4897 or