Students spend spring break serving others

429028_3022758202882_1609210432_nWhile most of the Marquette student population will try to unwind during spring break after midterms, some students will travel across the country to give back to those less fortunate.

The Marquette Action Program, known as MAP, is sponsoring 18 trips to 12 different states this spring break. More than 150 students will participate in these trips, taking part in a variety of activities such as working with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild homes, providing meals in urban homeless shelters or helping out in classrooms.

Despite limitations on available sites, there is no lack of enthusiasm for the unique opportunity. More than 200 students applied for the programs, according to Taylor Baar, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and the MAP student coordinator.

These MAP trips continue the long-held Marquette tradition and Jesuit ideal of community service. Last year, Marquette undergraduates spent an estimated 455,000 hours in service to the community each year, according to assessment statistics on the Division of Student Affairs website.

“I believe community service allows individuals to discover more fully what makes them feel most alive and most human, so that they are better able to give themselves wholeheartedly to others,” said Sarah Thiry, a senior in the College of Nursing and a MAP trip facilitator.

This year, the MAP sites will correspond to social justice themes including education, urban or rural poverty and human dignity. Students will travel to such diverse places as Joplin, Mo., Montgomery, Ala., and Ivanhoe, Va., to do a wide variety of work. Other students will travel to New Orleans with MARDI GRAS and undergo a Border Awareness experience in Texas through Campus Ministry.

“We focus on the justice issue, and we make sure there are people from the community who can come in and educate the students,” Baar said. “There are quite a few factors that go into creating a unique MAP site that we think would be great for participants.” 

Students said they enjoy the trips and the experiences they gain because they can help others and build relationships.

“The MAP trip I went on changed my outlook on America,” said Claire Hackett, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. On her trip she helped clean up a national park in Virginia in 2011.

“MAP has shown me that relationships are a key component to living an authentic human life, so whether you are with your friends eating in a dining hall or pouring milk at a service site, it is always important to be open and present to those you are with, because you can learn something from everyone,” Thiry said.

Baar said the difference between MAP and other types of community service is the reflection component of MAP trips. This gives students the chance to think more deeply on the impact of their work in the community.

“Sometimes without (reflection) you may not understand the importance of (the work),” he said. (Cited Website)