Feature News

Social justice, sunburn, prayer make meaningful memories during spring break

Apr 14, 2017

When North Central College takes a weeklong break before spring term, students create memories that will “last a lifetime.” Ranging from a service trip to Detroit to playing softball under the Florida sun, below are a few trip reflections from four students:

Jennifer Yager ’19, a secondary education and math major, traveled with the College’s women’s softball team to Fort Myers, Fla.:
During my time at North Central, I am fortunate enough to be blessed with the opportunity to go on a spring break trip with the women’s softball team. It is amazing to spend a week in the sunny state of Florida with all your best friends playing the game we love. The late nights in the hotel pool and watching movies together in our hotel rooms were the times we truly became a team. The trip taught me how to “go with the flow,” because I learned that things won’t always go the way they are planned. Whether it is losing your luggage, waiting for coach because he’s taking forever to get to the van, or watching the hours pass by before the next meal in the end it is all worth it. The greatest reward is always when you step onto the field and know everyone is there for the same exact reason. Some of my greatest memories from this trip include coach leaving the van running on in the parking lot for hours thinking he turned it off, and spending the entire day at the beach with everyone coming back extremely sunburned. Then the next morning, attempting to hide the fact that we were all in pain! These are memories and experiences that will last a lifetime, and I am so lucky to be able to make them with all of my best friends.

Alexander Dungan ’18, a psychology major, joined the BREAKAWAY trip in Bethlehem Farm, W.Va.:
For my BREAKAWAY trip, I went to Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic service community in West Virginia. I love going on service trips because I get to help someone while doing fun, new tasks like collecting copious amounts of logs for firewood, herding pigs, and collecting eggs from chickens. I got to do all those things, yet this trip was different because I was sick partway through with a 24-hour stomach bug some delicately call “the plague.” For one of the first times on a mission trip, I had to let other people help me. I love to be seen as the crazy yet independent kid who is always there to help people without needing help in return. It was difficult to let myself be seen as vulnerable yet I feel it was one of the more valuable things I learned at the farm. I learned to humble myself to let others help me when I definitely needed help. So many people I didn’t know very well, from a faith community I’m not very familiar with, stopped to make sure I was doing alright. The mountains and stars were beautiful and impressive, but it was in the faces of each person on the trip where I truly saw God throughout my time there. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to serve people, but I am even more grateful for the friends and the family I made while on the trip. I’m really not sure if I will ever have the chance to return; regardless, I feel like I found a new home, both at Bethlehem Farms and in community with the other people with whom I had the honor of living this new experience.

Cynthia Ramos ’20, an elementary education major, attended the Sankofa Experience in Washington, D.C.:
This Sankofa trip was an experience I will never forget. I gained a better understanding of systematic oppression, improved my understanding of my own beliefs, and now see museums through a different lens. Visiting the museums of different marginalized groups allowed me to see the story of each group individually, along with the similarities between each group and their relation to current events. As a future teacher, I want to make culture and cultural identity a major component in the classroom as we move toward a global society in desperate need of tolerance. I learned about the importance of the sources we use when teaching history. At various points during the trip, I saw the dissonance between what school taught me and what reality is. In order to attempt to understand a different culture, the next best thing to experiencing it firsthand is being educated about it. The museums I visited on this trip provided a platform for me to learn the content and analyze any bias that may be portrayed. I realized how much I don't know and how much more I want to learn. It was great to be surrounded by individuals who are passionate about social justice and are unafraid to have those types of conversations. At first, I was a bit unsure of what the trip would be like since I knew very few of the participants. However, I was able to find common ground with my peers and professors on how we could improve North Central College and our world in general. This trip is something I would highly recommend to anyone, whether social justice is something you are deeply passionate about or just want the opportunity to learn more about marginalized groups. One way or the other, you will for sure be impacted.

Alison Schneider ’19, a biochemistry major, attended the BREAKAWAY trip in Detroit:
When we arrived in Detroit, we passed by houses that were burned down, abandoned and not kept. I noticed people walking on the sidewalk had a somber lift to their step. Their eyes looked tired and worn. I sat back and took a deep breath. I realized why we were there. I prayed a silent prayer that we would be examples of Christ to this community. We worked with organizations that help the Detroit community in a variety of ways from urban farming to feeding the homeless to fixing up homes. All projects were eye-opening, challenging and wonderful in their own unique ways. I had such an amazing time with the people I went with and met. There is something special about Detroit that you don’t see too often, and it is the hope that things will be better someday. There are compassionate people who are dedicating themselves to serving the Detroit community in hopes of prospering the city into what it once was. I could see it in the eyes of the people at the N.O.A.H. Project, the project leader we met, and even in the art in downtown. I truly believe that Detroit has the potential to flourish because there are people who are passionate about helping a city, no, their city grow. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. God is amazing and works in really unique ways. I pray that the city of Detroit keeps growing. There are good people in the world, and Detroit really showed me that.

By Upasna Barath '19

Photo on homepage by Stella Fanega '17