Four students met outside Tuttleman Learning Center on March 12 — one of the first days of spring break — at 9 a.m. and introduced themselves. The same day, Dustin Miller, a junior secondary education major, drove the group the entire nine-hour drive to Monroe, North Carolina because no one else knew how to drive a stick shift.
“It was kind of just like, ‘Hi, let’s go,’” said Andrea Sarmiento, a freshman global studies major who went on the trip.
Sarmiento and Miller went on the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge, a service trip alternative to spring break. Miller is the fundraising chair for Temple’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that builds or improves houses, and Sarmiento was looking to get more involved with service groups on Main Campus.
Sarmiento and Miller are two of many students who choose to spend spring break or the summer doing service trips around the country.
“I think it’s a good thing to go to a new state and be a part of something,” Sarmiento said. “You get to meet new people, maybe like from the club at Temple or another school or just like the employees.”
The four students who went to North Carolina with Habitat for Humanity met up with 19 other students from Springfield College in Massachusetts, Sarmiento said. The students stayed in the upstairs loft of a ReStore, Habitat for Humanity’s chain of thrift stores that sell appliances and used furniture. Sarmiento said it was “like a giant sleepover.”
Other service trips at Temple occur over the summer rather than during spring break. Faithe Beadle, a sophomore psychology major, will travel to El Paso, Texas from May 13 to 20 on a service immersion program through Temple. The trip is organized through the Border Immersion Program at Cristo Rey Catholic Church in El Paso, which takes in groups of students to allow them to hear stories from people who regularly cross the border between the United States and Mexico.
“Basically right now we’re fundraising, because obviously we have to donate money to the church to keep it running,” Beadle said. “And then once we get there, we will be helping out in the church, but we’re not like providing help. If anything, they’re providing their stories to us.”
Beadle said the point of the trip is primarily to learn and understand a different way of life, then incorporate what participants learned into their everyday lives.
“The goal right off the bat is just awareness,” she said. “I think it’s also to share stories. … Sharing stories is important, especially in the area of social justice issues. When you have a group of people who are oppressed or underprivileged, sharing their stories with the people who are oppressing them or are more privileged than them, that can be groundbreaking.”
Beadle said she went on her first service trip as a junior in high school. She traveled to the South and helped teach young children grammar and the alphabet at a church. She said she expects this trip to be different because she’s less comfortable this time, having never been to Texas with minimal knowledge of the Spanish language.
Both Beadle and Sarmiento said meeting new people and gaining new experiences are the best parts of taking service trips.
“I think it was very rewarding,” Sarmiento said. “We got to meet some of the homeowners who we were building houses for.”
“I think it’s definitely good to make yourself aware,” Beadle said. “I think it’s important to try and do your best to help.”
Erin Moran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ernmrntweets.