While many may use spring break as a time for catching up with friends, the University of Providence encourages students to use the time to serve and help others.
To encourage the mission of UP, the Service-Learning Integration course took four students to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to spend their spring break helping an underserved community.
“We were able to help out St. Augustine Church with some manual labor by taking apart some old pews and cleaning up their basement to show our gratitude for what they do for their community,” said Travis Vermulm, the Campus Minister of Service and Outreach for UP.
Over the course of the trip, students worked with Augustine Defenders of the Rights of the Poor, a non-profit which runs a free clinic for immigrants in the South Philadelphia area. Students also worked to enhance the playground at St. Anthony of Padua Regional Catholic School by creating playground art and games for children to enjoy.
“The school was very grateful, and the children thanked us personally and let us know that it had not been painted on for years, so it really made us feel like we brightened up their day because they were all super excited about it,” said Chloe Legreid, a sophomore at UP.
The purpose of the Service Immersion Trip is to show students different ways of learning and why a community may need help.
“We aren’t just going to a place and giving them a handout or fulfilling one basic need and leaving,” Travis said. “We want them to let us know what help they need instead of us just going and thinking we know everything.”
Travis hopes students came back to Montana with an understanding of the reason and meaning behind the trip and gave themselves a moment to reflect on the trip.
“You should be changed in some way leaving these trips and if you are not changed, then at least the way you see things should be changed,” Travis said.
Chloe shared how the trip showed her a different way of living.
“Since I am from the middle of nowhere, and going to a larger city, there is a different lifestyle from what I have experienced back home. Not only did we get to help people in a different way than I am used to, but we also got to experience a different lifestyle that we are all not used to, so it was a huge change in perspective for me.”
Students can enroll in the service-learning integration course in the 2023 – 2024 academic year for the next service immersion trip.