By Thomas Curry
College spring breaks typically consist of beach parties, trips to Cancun and tropical resorts, or relaxing with friends at home. Some Catholic University students are choosing to use their time away from school to give back to communities both domestic and abroad.
Twelve spring break trips, hosted by Campus Ministry and Habitat for Humanity, attract a wide variety of students across campus to serve communities across the United States, as well as other countries. They do so by building houses, serving migrant communities, immersing themselves in other cultures, and doing whatever else they can to serve the communities that will host Catholic University students. Students will represent the university through immersion and solidarity in eight states and three countries.
Habitat for Humanity is hosting five of the spring break trips: Taos, New Mexico; Bend, Oregon; Goose Creek, South Carolina; Tacoma, Washington; and Houston, Texas. The student service organization organizes trips each year to follow their mission of “bringing people together to build homes, community, and hope!”
“[Habitat for Humanity] wants students to put God’s love into action by going on these trips,” said Joseph Galassi, who was one of the Spring Break Coordinators for Habitat, “We’ll be teaching everybody an important trade, being able to build homes, and we get the chance to meet the people we build for and see the smiles on their faces, it’s really a great feeling.”
A major part of Habitat for Humanity’s spring break trips is not only being a helping hand for the community they team up with, but also to foster a community with each other to build friendships.
“I just happened to lead a trip that a lot of my friends are going on,” said Galassi, who is leading the trip to Bend, Oregon, “but there’s also some people who I have gotten to know through this trip, so I’m excited for the outcome of this trip.”
Meanwhile, Campus Ministry is hosting seven Justice and Immersion Trips, traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Apopka, Florida; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Kingston, Jamaica; Nazareth Farm, West Virginia; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and the US/Mexico Border. Each trip serves a specific purpose specific to the community, such as work on disaster relief efforts, education on marginalized areas, and building relationships with the local community.
For example, students going to Apopka, Florida anticipate immersing themselves in the culture of the Apopka, Florida community by staying at the homes of migrant families and helping out on local farms, all while growing in community with each other and the people of Apopka.
“I hope to learn more about the community in Apopka and the troubles that they face because it will give me a better understanding of problems that don’t seem to be reality where I’m from,” said Emily Cournoyer, a sophomore who is participating on the Apopka trip, “I also hope to learn from the people who work down there and hear their stories.”
Some students opted to apply for the Service Justice and Immersion Trips with their friends, while others applied by themselves to serve with a new community.
“I didn’t plan on going on the trip with any of my friends, but I have been making friends with the people within my group,” said Cournoyer, “I have gotten pretty close with a couple of girls in my group and I’m sure I will become closer with the rest of group after the trip.”
Students will leave as early as Friday, March 8 for their respective trips, and will return as late as Saturday, March 16.