Editorial: Service trips offer true life lessons

While the majority of the campus prepares to depart for home next Friday, several hundred Villanova students will be gathered in St. Thomas of Villanova Church for a prayer service. The students will be preparing to leave for their fall break service trips sponsored by Campus Ministry. This fall, students anticipate traveling as far as Costa Rica and as close as the Bronx on mission trips or Habitat for Humanity trips, but no matter what the distance, many of the valuable results are one and the same.

The University prides itself on offering some of the best service options available to college students, most notably one of the largest collegiate chapters of Habitat for Humanity in the country. Year after year students overwhelmingly favor the service break trips when they decided to take advantage of Campus Ministry’s options.

The reason for offering these is not so Villanova students will enter the working world with a better resume or so the University will make a better name for itself and receive higher rankings. Rather, service is promoted and valued here so students will have the opportunity to acquire life-long lessons that prove to be far greater than snagging the title as “best well-rounded candidate” ever could be.

These lessons teach about poverty, why it happens and what we, as students now and leaders tomorrow, can do to stop it. Service break trips teach about solidarity with the poor. There are a lot more similarities than differences between people than most would ever consider. Once we experiences another culture and society, even if it is just for a week, we gain a new perspective on life and doubtlessly a greater sympathy for less fortunate individuals.

Many students have returned from past trips awestruck, as if viewing the world for the first time. Their new perspectives often affect their life goals and ambitions. Realizing what we truly wants to do with our lives, as some students do for the first time while on a trip, is perhaps the greatest gift the University offers its students. One part of college is not just supposed to prepare us academically for the world in the classroom, but a true education takes students outside of the labs and lecture halls and into the realities of the world. There might not be a greater wake-up call than witnessing a small child begging for food or the 12-foot by 10-foot shack that houses a nine-member family.

Some argue that it costs too much to send students on such trips and that the money might be better spent going directly to those in need. But, one can argue that without such trips, countless Villanova graduates would not have attained the values and lessons learned while nailing on roofs or reading to children, lessons they will pass on to co-workers and families.

So while you are stuck in traffic on the bridge or waiting for the train to take you home a week from today, say a little prayer for those who are taking a different route this break. We hope that they will share with us what they learn.