Service & Justice Experiences: An Alternative Spring Break



Sarah McAssey

As spring break comes around each March, many students are itching to escape the blustery Pennsylvania temperatures and their respective heavy course loads to spend the week in tropical locations, such as Miami or the Caribbean. However, many students opt to spend their week a different way and participate in Service & Justice Experiences through Campus Ministry. 

Kate Giancatarino, Associate Director of Service and Justice Experiences on campus, reported that 210 students participated in SJEs through Campus Ministry and 12 nursing students completed a mission trip in Peru. Students had the opportunity to participate in break trips at 15 different sites throughout the United States, ranging from the city of Philadelphia, Taos New Mexico and beyond, to Ecuador. Students have the choice to participate in a Habitat for Humanity trip that focuses on building homes for areas effected by natural disaster and poverty, or a mission trip that entails a variety of different work and addresses societal issues.

Freshmen Caitlin Ramirez had the opportunity to travel to San Diego, California for a break trip and reflected, “we basically went through a crash course on immigration. I learned extensively about border culture and Chicano culture in a thriving environment.” 

Break trips can provide an opportunity for students to be brought out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in an unfamiliar culture or place. Ramirez muses, “Beyond that, I found 13 valuable friends, confidants, and shoulders to cry on. My experience went beyond getting to know the people of the culture to include my group members who were an incredible part of my experience.” 

A special crop of dedicated upperclassmen had the opportunity to lead groups for these experiences. With a role of such responsibility comes great perspective. Junior Sarah Hannan led a trip to Marion, South Carolina with Habitat for Humanity.  “This was an incredible week during which I met individuals who cherish relationships and their community with such great trip,” Hannan said. Hannan has participated in other break trips prior to her leading a group to Marion. She shares that this time around, she found a unique perspective.“Leading the trip gave a different view to the experience as I was able to see our group evolve into a community who developed opinions on poverty,” she said.

It is evident that our own students thoroughly cherish the experiences their break trips bring them. These experiences are meant to challenge, broaden perspective and foster genuine relationships. With all of this, if you are seeking a way to spend fall or spring break in the future, consider participating in a break trip; you will not disappointed.