Story by Jake Eccleston, Reporter
Photo courtesy of YOUTUBE
While most college students think about white, sandy beaches and palm trees when they hear the words “Spring Break,” a number of Aquinas students will be traveling to five different sites in order to make life better for a group of people. In the coming weeks, 53 students will embark on five different service-learning trips aimed at helping a variety of causes. The five sites include Christian Appalachian Project, Jerusalem Farm, St. Peter Claver School/Church, International Samaritan in Nicaragua, and Building Bridges of Hope in the Dominican Republic. Each program rewards the participants with unique experiences that will bring each of the students much closer together with the other students in the group they are attending with .
At Christian Appalachian Project, Aquinas students spend one week in Eastern Kentucky, working primarily on local home repairs with the people of the community. Students going to Jerusalem Farm, located in Kansas City, Missouri, will learn about local foods, solar initiatives, community building and simple living, while working on home rehabilitation and serving with area nonprofits.
Student Leader junior Alex Karatkiewicz, is looking forward to returning to work alongside the people at Jerusalem Farm and recognizes the importance of the memories that he will make saying that they, “impact a little part of yourself so that there is meaning behind your actions.”
At St. Peter Claver Church and School in New Orleans, Louisiana students will spend one week interacting with school kids and completing repair projects. Junior Maria Moon, a first-time participant on the New Orleans trip stated that while she does not know what to expect of New Orleans, she is really excited to meet and get to know the kids from St. Peter Claver because of all of the great stories she has heard about them.
The Nicaraguan group will be working with International Samaritan and the La Joya community, located near a garbage dump. The Dominican Republic group will assist to help provide medical clinics to three rural communities close to Haiti.
With all of these trips that are getting ready to depart, it is easy to forget all of the work and dedication that is put into planning and preparing each of these excursions. Service Learning Director Eric Bridge, now in his twenty-first year as director, is excited as ever for this spring’s group of service-learning participants.
He voiced his source of inspiration saying, “I’m inspired by the Aquinas students’ commitment to serve and to learn more about issues. AQ students display a willingness to engage with people across the US and around the world.”