Students choose mission over Florida beaches
Ten from UWGB Ecumenical Center will spend spring break helping at diocesan mission
Seventh in a series on the Bishop's Appeal
By Anthony Malcore
|READY TO GO: Molly Bloom (lower left), Brittany Wolfe, Angela DeLucia and Jennifer Feyen are among 10 students from the UWGB Ecumenical Center who will spend their spring break helping at the diocesan mission in the Dominican Republic. (UWGB Ecumenical Center photo)
Ten students from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Ecumenical Center will spend their spring break not on a Florida beach, but in service to parishioners in the Green Bay Diocese's mission at Elias Piña in the Dominican Republic.
The students will spend the week of March 17-26 working on an aqueduct system, painting buildings and digging latrines.
The purpose of the Alternative Spring Break trip, which is supported in part by the Bishop's Appeal and a grant from the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Green Bay is "to serve those most in need" and "to share in a culture very different from our own, learn about this culture, and reflect on the experience in light of their faith."
Students also must pay $550, plus expenses for immunizations, passports and extra medical insurance. They conducted three fundraisers to help offset the costs and received some support from local churches and businesses.
While the Alternative Spring Break is an annual event at the UWGB Ecumenical Center, this is the first time students have gone outside the country. Typically, students have gone to economically deprived areas in Virginia and Kentucky.
Laurie Svatek, UWGB campus minister and leader of the group, said "young adults enjoy traveling internationally and are keenly aware of helping those most in need. Therefore, it was decided it would be best to coordinate an international service trip for this year's ASB and be a little bolder in living our faith and our call to justice."
The idea was so popular that the trip was filled six days after it was announced in November. Usually, it takes several weeks to fill all the slots.
"I don't really know what to expect from the trip," said Heather Imhoff, a freshman. "I know we are going to a third world country and will experience a different culture. It's going to be a lot different from here, and that is why I want to go. I want to learn about other countries, about what other people go through in their daily lives, and to better appreciate the simple things we take for granted everyday."
Angela DeLucia, a sophomore, said, "I have never really been out of my own culture which is one of the reasons I do want to go, just to get away from familiar surroundings and obtain
a new perspective on life. So I'm trying to be open minded, and not have any preconceived ideas."
The students will bring with them seven suitcases of school supplies and sporting equipment.
Svatek said the trip is a response to the Gospel call to serve others. "Young adults seem to understand that they have a responsibility, and therefore a desire to help other people,"
she said. "They don't always connect it with their faith, and so through Alternative Spring Break we are able to build that bridge and make that connection. Moreover, for some students, social justice is the primary doorway through which they will come back to the church and form a deeper connection with God and their own personal faith and we think that is a very worthwhile thing to make available for students."
Before the trip, they talk to students about what they will experience and why they will be going, Svatek said. "So we connect what we are doing with Catholic social teaching and the
Jon LaRoche, a junior, has been on mission trips around the U.S. and said he knows they will see a level of poverty he has never seen. "I have seen quite a bit of poverty already, but this is a third world country, and I don't think any of us can possibly prepare ourselves for what we will be exposed to, and live like they do. I'm not really sure what to expect, but I know we will have a lot of fun."
"Yes, it's tough to give up the entire week of spring break especially when hearing about what everyone else has planned, whereas we're going to work in the Dominican Republic,"
LaRoche said. "However, it is an eye opening experience and I think it is going to be a lot of fun."
Jennifer Feyen, also a junior, said they "have seen a lot of pictures dealing with surrounding countries, so I have an idea of what the land and people are like. As for lack of electricity and other conveniences, I am going to think of this as being back in Little House on the Prairie times. So I think it will be fun, I'll look at it that way. I'm nervous about how things will be, but I want to go to meet the people and do something good by helping out, and not doing the ordinary selfish things over spring break."
Eric Meyer, a freshman, will be going on his first mission trip. He said he's "not quite sure what to expect except for high poverty and conditions we are not used to. However, I really want to do this because I've been helping people my whole life through other volunteering around the area, and I really want to expand the range of what I do for people. I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment I get from helping people and using the talents given to me to make their lives better."