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Students serve over spring break

Students+work+on+painting+the+exterior+of+a+house+in+Enid%2C+Oklahoma+on+a+Marquette+Action+Program+trip.+
Students work on painting the exterior of a house in Enid, Oklahoma on a Marquette Action Program trip.

Students work on painting the exterior of a house in Enid, Oklahoma on a Marquette Action Program trip.

Photo by Courtesy of Ali Piccininni

Photo by Courtesy of Ali Piccininni

Students work on painting the exterior of a house in Enid, Oklahoma on a Marquette Action Program trip.

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For many, spring break was a time of relaxation and a break from responsibilities. However, some students took the break from school as an opportunity to volunteer.

Since 1977, the Marquette Action Program has provided opportunities for students to go on service trips across the United States. Affiliated with Campus Ministry, MAP provides students the opportunity to travel for service work. During last week’s break, 14 different groups of students traveled to destinations across the Midwest, East and South of the country, volunteering with a variety of different tasks.

Ali Piccininni, a freshman in the Colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences, went on a MAP service trip to Enid, Oklahoma, where her group worked with Habitat for Humanity to rehabilitate a home for new homeowners.

Working with Habitat for Humanity was no new experience for Piccininni, who had worked with the group on four previous service trips. But the MAP trip presented a new obstacle: working with a group of total strangers.

“I didn’t know anyone going into this trip, but we were able to really connect and bond,” Piccininni said. “We got to know each other very well.”

After five full days of labor involving painting the house’s exterior, building a fence and installing ceiling fans and electricity, the group succeeded in completing a large portion of the renovation. Still, despite the limited days, it was hard for the group to leave before the house was finished. Piccininni said that they all would have liked to see the project all the way through.

Regardless, the group of student volunteers were able to provide an enormous service for the new homeowners. On the last day of work, the students presented the new homeowners with seeds and soil from Marquette and the request that they plant the seeds in their yard as a way to remember the students’ contribution, hoping it will symbolically grow alongside the new home.

Kate Lawlor, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, had a different MAP experience over break. She traveled with a group of six girls to St. Paul’s Home for the elderly, an assisted care facility associated with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Cincinnati. Throughout the week, the group spent quality time with the residents, making friendships and bonding through unique experiences that mutually benefitted both the students and the residents. The group served food, planned events — including a fashion show, movie night and game night — and kept the residents company.

For Lawlor, the most memorable thing was hearing the unique stories from the elderly residents. She recalled their positivity and eagerness to speak to the students about their lives though many had dealt with lots of hardships. The joyfulness and resilience of the residents left a strong impact on the group.

“This sounds super cheesy, but the hardest part was probably leaving. You just get so attached to the residents, and they didn’t want us to leave, and they were crying because we had to go,” Lawlor said, adding that some of the residents gave the students their pictures and requested that they write and call.

For some students, MAP trips have become a significant part of their Marquette experience. Brian Martindale, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, has been going on MAP trips every spring break since he was a freshman, traveling to Chicago, Illinois; Ogala, South Dakota; and this year, Montgomery, Alabama. Martindale’s group of 10 split their time between volunteering with Resurrection Catholic Missions and touring important Civil Rights landmarks.

Throughout the trip, Martindale met many people, including a Montgomery preacher who was nearly killed by a group of racists in his youth, a woman inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to fight against the odds of racism and receive her doctorate and a woman who had participated in the march for African-American voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and was the youngest woman arrested during the Civil Rights Movement.

Between meeting people directly involved in and affected by the Civil Rights movement and visiting moving landmarks, Martindale explained that he, along with the other students in his group, have become inspired to use what power they have, despite their age, to continue to fight for justice and change in society today.

With a wide variety of possibilities for service experiences, MAP provides an opportunity for students to embrace Marquette’s Jesuit values and go out and make a change in the world.

 

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