As part of Saint Anselm College's Service and Solidarity Mission Program through Campus Ministry, nine groups of 128 student-volunteers recently began a week of service, prayer, and reflection as they embarked on this year's spring break alternative (SBA). In addition to the eight sites in the United States, this year 14 students and two faculty members will travel to Costa Rica where they will help build a home using money raised by the college community during last year's Lenten season.
During the trip, participants will work alongside local Costa Ricans on behalf of the sponsorship program, Unbound. Due to the lack of power equipment in this rural area, the group will build, mix concrete, and dig a septic system by hand. Saint Anselm students will be accompanied by modern languages professor Jaime Orrego and nursing faculty member and alumna Joanna Parolin '11.
"The fact that the college community helped raise the money means a lot. Not only are we making a direct impact by funding the project but being involved in building the home creates a deeper connection with our mission and with the family," Wanless said.
A new site this year is God's Love We Deliver in New York City, N.Y. Led by senior economics and finance major Abdelaziz (Zizo) Alsharawy, and senior nursing major Ashely Blades, students will help fulfill the organization's mission to improve the health and well-being of men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition. The group will prepare and deliver nutritious, high-quality meals to people who, because of their illness, are unable to provide or prepare meals for themselves. All of this organization's services are provided free of charge without regard to income.
During their trip, the students will meet with former SBA leaders and Saint Anselm alumni Kevin Golen '08 and Jessica (Marzik) Golen '10, Josh Dupuis '09, and Norma
As a leader, Blades believes that the Service and Solidarity Program has helped shape her perspective on the world and what it means to live in solidarity. She hopes she can continue in her personal growth and relay these lessons to her participants as well.
"I can only hope to spend this week supporting my participants as they actively serve and grow in love with our brothers and sisters from different communities," Blades said. "I want to gain more insight on how I can continue to serve others in new communities once I graduate, while also continuing to support others in their journey to solidarity."
Additional sites include Vanceburg, Ky., Aberdeen, Miss., Manning, S.C, Ridgely, Md., Detroit and Gulf Port, Mich., and Orland, Maine.
Director of Campus Ministry Susan Gabert hopes that through the Service and Solidarity trips students will learn how to challenge their preconceived notions and respect the dignity of others.
"Being socially aware and just are at the core of who we are as a Catholic college," said Gabert.
"These trips help with the formation of our students and opens their eyes to how others live. This gives them the opportunity to explore their spirituality, meaning of life, and how they interact with others."
Throughout the week, the student-led groups will do a variety of work at the different sites including assisting in local schools, building houses, working in natural disaster relief with service organizations, and interacting with local families and individuals in the community.
Campus Ministry encourages members of the college to pray for the participants, the communities they will serve, and the personal challenges they will face during their missions. The groups will be returning to campus at the end of Spring Break on March 6.
Follow along with the student groups, see photos, and read updates from the student leaders on the Service and Solidarity Missions blog.