(IT IS) WHAT IT IS: Participation in break trips sets Villanova apart

Liz McIntyre

One downside to having a break trip program as well-established as Villanova’s is the inevitability that interested participants must be somewhat competitive to become involved. 

The application process requires legitimate reflection about your desire to serve, as well as a time commitment extending beyond the actual week-long break. 

Depending on how competitive you are and whether you believe competition should apply to service opportunities, this reality could be seen as disheartening. However, the implications are incredible. 

When the interest in service opportunities is so widespread that there are not enough resources to serve those in need adequately, a program can only accommodate so much demand. 

While our service break trip program’s ideal state would allow anyone expressing interest to take our Villanova spirit of service across the country and the world, our resources are still, logically, limited. Accordingly, the program must limit the participant pool. 

To the best of its ability, the program has sought to do so without putting any particular class at a disadvantage. The selection process makes a point of welcoming new students to the community with freshman-only trips going out every spring. Full consideration for upperclassmen, including those with no previous service experience, also makes it unlikely that anybody interested in participating in a trip will have to graduate without doing one. 

This competitive nature of Villanova’s Habitat and mission trips is not just a good thing — it is an extraordinary thing. Students on any college campus compete for sports tickets and honor societies in specific areas. But most universities have to seek out students to participate in service opportunities in order to have enough people to carry out the service mission effectively. Rarely are schools in the position to turn students away. 

Meanwhile, participating on a service break trip has gained a reputation of being one of the coolest, most fundamentally Villanovan things a student can do in his or her time here. This peculiarity of ours is unique, and that is a point of pride for all of us. 

If you feel shafted by break trips recently, or were discouraged from even applying for fear of rejection, there are alternatives for doing service over fall break. Get a group of friends to register for on-campus housing for the week, and go into Philadelphia every day to volunteer. You could also serve with your family at home. Part of the Villanova break trip appeal is getting to know a whole new set of peers, but you belong to so many more communities than your university. Each one of us has the ability to help meet the world, and our University’s break trip program is one example of the ample opportunities that we have to do so. 

Liz McIntyre is a senior psychology major from Chapel Hill, N.C. She can be reached at [email protected].