Students Use Fall Break To Benefit Others

Courtney Garloff

Traditionally, students head home to a long weekend of rest and relaxation during fall break, but six students chose to pack their duffles and travel to Mercy Farms in Benson, VT to participate in the annual fall break service trip.

“I feel that to earn your place in the world, you should give back,” said sophomore psychology/physical therapy major Tori Dziedziak.

Campus Ministry offers one trip during the fall break weekend each year so students can provide service.

“Any trip that we have, one of the goals is direct service,” said Director of Campus Ministry Chris Somers.

Mercy Farms is operated by the Sisters of Mercy. It serves as a retreat to teach people about one of the Sisters’ critical concerns: the earth.

The staff living on the farm works the land and lives off of the crops they grow. Students went to help the Sisters with the labor that would otherwise take them weeks to accomplish.

Mercy Farms focuses on teaching people how to live off of the land and to eat more organically.

“This trip showed me how challenging it is to live organically, not only with money but with time,” said Dziedziak.

The trip also provided the students with an education.

“We want them to learn something about the people they are serving,” said Somers.

Students learned how to cook organic food and why they should shop organically. Students also

had time to reflect on the work they had done and all of the information they learned.

“Maybe they will learn more about the earth and how not to waste water and electricity.”

Reflection enabled students to better remember the messages the Sisters tried to pass along.

“We had a lot of time to reflection what we had learned and what we were doing,” said Dziedziak.

The trip also acted as a team building and bonding exercise for the volunteers.

“When you spend six hours in a car with people and then all day for about five days with them and then another six-hour car ride back, you start to learn a lot about people,” said Dziedziak.

There was a fee for the trip, but students raised funds to attend. Campus Ministry also offers trips throughout the year and during spring break.

“We want students to work with a population that they may not have ever worked with before.”

International service trips occur every year, too. Students have the option to travel to Guyana, South America and Cross Keys and Manchester in Jamaica.

The trips are part of service- learning courses that count as a three-credit religion core course.

Students who choose the inter- national service trips will meet with their group during class and learn about the tasks they will be expected to perform.

Guyana service trips have been a part of Campus Ministry’s program for over 20 years. This is the longest standing service learning course that the university offers.

The trip takes place at the end of the spring semester for two to three weeks. Students stay in Georgetown, Guyana and have different service opportunities while there.

Students will be able to learn and serve by tutoring young orphan boys, working in a hospital, and visiting a rehabilitation center for elderly and children. Students could also choose to

travel to Jamaica for a service trip, which has been offered for eight years. This one-week trip takes place in January over winter break. The service-learning course is held during the fall semester.

Students stay with Father Patrick Mwangi in his rectory in Manchester Keys in the mountain area of Jamaica. The students will travel as a group, visiting different service sites and interacting with the Jamaican people.

Students will also have the opportunity to visit children with severe disabilities, those with HIV, the elderly, people who have been abandoned and orphans. Students will work at a preschool, do home visits with the homebound, and spend the day painting or doing some physical labor.

Trips are also offered during spring break. Some previous trips having been to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Texas, California, Ohio and Connecticut.

There is also an annual Habitat for Humanity trip held during the spring. Interested students should visit the Campus Ministry page on e-MU.

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