By Megan Dreher & August Kissel, Asst. Editor & Editor
Students spent their winter intercession in a number of ways. Some worked, others went on vacation, and some used their time to catch up on sleep lost during the semester. But there were also groups of students that were able to spend a week of their intercession participating in the L.O.V.E. program, giving back to communities both nationally and internationally.
Students who participated in these L.O.V.E. (The Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience) trips had the opportunity to immerse themselves in service and social justice experiences. The destinations this winter included New Orleans, Arizona, Jamaica and Ecuador.
“The trips went really well as far as I know. I have spoken to some of the leaders briefly but am looking forward to a longer debrief this coming Friday with all 4 teams.” said Jenn Edwards Robinson, the assistant director of the office of campus ministry and social action.
Manhattan College has made a connection with the multiple communities visited on these trips, and students have traveled to serve for quite some time.
The New Orleans trip has been active since Hurricane Katrina, sending students to help rebuild houses in the area since the winter of 2006. The trip to Jamaica, where students work with The Mustard Seed community in particular, has operated since March of 2012. In Arizona, students work to understand the issues of border control, and have been going since March of 2013. And L.O.V.E Ecuador first took place in January of 2007.
The students that are selected to go on these trips have the opportunity to participate in the trip as a group member, and later can work toward becoming a student facilitator. This gives students a new perspective on the trip while still being just as impactful.
“For me, it was really exciting for my co-leader, Katrina Daly, and I to see everyone experience things and learn things for the first time just as we did last year,” Emily Garren, a co-leader of L.O.V.E. Jamaica, said.
“I did this trip sixth months ago and I only participated, leading was a whole new experience. I had to teach what I had just learned to ten people that didn’t know. Being able to go from a listener to a facilitator is a very different experience. Being able to understand the whole issue in a way that I could sit and answer questions about it that are not simple, less about numbers and more about conceptual questions,” Nicole Padron, group leader of L.O.V.E. Arizona, said.
The service was a major component of each of these trips, but the lessons learned left a lasting impact on these students. The bonds that were formed within the groups, as well as with the individuals that the students served, made the hard work worth it.
“I feel like it was a combination of the team and how we built that relationship with each other, but also the work that we did and seeing the reaction. I feel like when you can see the impact you are making directly on someone, it really makes you think ‘I’m really having an impact on this person and I’m really helping her.’ It’s a direct impact, and I think that’s what really makes it amazing,” Samantha Wilson, a group member of L.O.V.E. New Orleans, said.
Members from each of the trips would agree that the L.O.V.E. trips are a life-changing experience and the week spent volunteering and serving others is very rewarding.
“You don’t expect it to be so life changing. When you talk about throughout the semester, you think, “oh it’s going to be fun.” and that you’re going to do something good. And you’re like wow, this is more than that at the end,” said Wilson.