Service trips can change the way you view the world

UDM claims that its service trips will “change the way you view the world,” and for many who have attended and help with the planning, it has.

For Allison Cutuli, who is working as a Jesuit volunteer at University Ministry, the service trips she participated in elsewhere have had a lasting impact on her.

“With service trips, it is commonly thought that it’s just us serving them, and it’s not always like that,” said Cutuli. “We come back just as changed as them.”

This year, UDM is hosting four separate service excursions in multiple locations, and if you’re interested, staff coordinator Megan Marshall suggests that you act quickly.

“If you really want to go, get your applications in early,” said Marshall. “When in doubt, if you are interested, fill out an application as well.”

Alternative Winter Break, which takes place this year Dec 18-23, has already been filled, but there are several more opportunities to get involved.

Alternative Spring Break takes place March 1-7; the “mystery trip” is from April 25 to May 2, which overlaps with the Detroit Urban Plunge from April 26 to May 2.

The upcoming service trips will focus on social issues like working with disabilities, immigration, urban and rural poverty and ex-offenders.

“Our hope is to turn things upside down,” said Marshall. “We hope people can see the inside of a social issue on a more personal, intimate basis.”

The mystery trip is a favorite among students. Cutuli likes the trip because it gives students the chance to focus on outreach rather than the destination.

Although the trips cost $400, most of the funds are earned through fundraising.

“We don’t want finances to stop students from coming on a trip,” said Cutuli. “We’ll work with them because we want them to come.”

Participants travel with six to ten fellow students. According to post-trip evaluations, many students view those relationships as the things they cherish most about the experience.

“The students really enjoy meeting new people,” said Marshall. “They are able to meet new friends at UDM and build a community.”

According to Marshall and Cutuli, there are many reasons to attend a service trip.                                    

“Learning in the classroom is one thing,” said Cutuli. “But actually going out and learning about social issues hands-on is an entirely different thing.”

Marshall urges students to go into their service trip with a sense of openness and a non-judgmental attitude.

“You’ll get to know people that are different, with different backgrounds and experiences,” said Marshall. “Being judgmental can really shut down conversations.”

Marshall and Cutuli hope that these service trips will leave students with a lasting impression. They want students to consider their future and the future of the world around them.

“I highly recommend them,” said Cutuli. “Looking back, they’re some of my fondest memories.”