Students Travel to Aid Others at Break


Many students will be partying and getting loose during spring break next week. But for some at Detroit Mercy it will be a time to help others and shatter stereotypes about spring break.

Enter service-immersion trips.

The trips are run by Detroit Mercy Ministry, and focus on service work with disadvantaged populations.

“We try to live and work in solidarity with whom we are serving,” said Erin McDonald, university minister for service and justice.

Students go to a location and are given instruction by community partners on how and where to help.

The trips force the students out of their comfort zones.

There is an emphasis on critical thinking and “compassionate hearts,” McDonald said.

This spring, Detroit Mercy students are going on one of three trips.

One group will be in Chicago at Misericordia, where the theme will be “inclusion and reimagining love.”

Another trip will be to an unknown location, where the focus will be “street outreach” to the homeless population.

The third trip will take students to Salem, West Virginia, where the focus will be on rural poverty, especially in Appalachia.

Student volunteers will be performing home repairs and working in the local community.

Daniel Doyle, a junior, is attending his first immersion trip, the one to Chicago.

“I’m excited to go there and help adults with disabilities, because I have a cousin who has developmental disabilities,” Doyle said. “I know how hard it can be to work with them and the challenges that their family members have to getting them the correct care.”  

Luciano Marcon, a sophomore, is going on his second service-immersion trip to Chicago and will be in the same group as Doyle.

The last trip changed him, he said, but in an unexpected way.

“It was more of a learning experience for me,” he said. “I can apply things that I learned back home.”

Each group works with an agency that oversees and directs the work being done, leading to an organized and professional environment.

“They know how to do it, why to do it and how to do it safely,” said McDonald of the agencies.

Other upcoming trips will be to El Salvador in Christmas and Haiti in May.

Interested students may apply online on the service and immersion page of the Detroit Mercy website.

There is a cost for each trip, averaging $300 for domestic trips taken by car, $600 for domestic trips taken by plane and about $1,400 for out-of-country trips.

These prices include travel, food and boarding.

Scholarships and payment plans are available.

“Fifty percent of the students going on trips this year are receiving scholarships,” said McDonald.

Trips are interfaith and inclusive, so students of all backgrounds and religions (or lack thereof) are welcome.