Cross-Cultural Mission Experiences
This spring break, 60 students traveled to three different locations for Spiritan Campus Ministry's annual Cross-Cultural Mission Experiences (CCMEs). Students assisted in home repair and community projects in Mullens, WV; worked with migrant farmworkers to understand the injustices in Florida's tomato fields in Immokalee, FL; and helped to rebuild homes affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA. In all of the experiences, students were able to get a taste of the culture of the area through food, conversation with members of the community, and working together on a variety of projects in the areas. Below are students' reflections on their experiences on the CCMEs.
(L-R) Attila Mihalik, Elana Famularo, Mary Ames, Michelle Stiller, Skyler DeWitt, Catherine Connolly, Caitlin Reilly, and Aaron Thomas helping at Habitat for Humanity.
(L-R) Aaron Thomas, Anjali Singh, Mary Ames, Jessica Livingston and Elizabeth Faber pose in front of the Guadalupe day care.
"The Cross Cultural Mission Experience to West Virginia over Spring Break was a very humbling experience, and it opened my eyes to the nearby difficulties while also showing the good in the people I was around. It was shocking to find that an area that is very close is almost a different world from the one that I am used to. Seeing an area that has such different living conditions made me realize how fortunate I am to have what I do, and that not everyone is as lucky as I or anyone else that I interact with daily is. Although, just by looking, one would think that just because conditions aren't as nice as our own, life down there is horrible; but "West Virginians" would say otherwise. The West Virginians were welcoming, helpful and so grateful for the work that we did for them as they do similar work for their community, that they care so much about, every day. The CCME trip helped me realize a lot: I now have seen firsthand how fortunate I am compared to others, how nice people can be despite their lives in comparison to ours and the selflessness of the students I go to school with. Service has always been a part of my life but each time I do service I realize how it should play a part in everyone's lives because, more often than not, others need it and it won't go unappreciated."
— Peter Samson
Student Government Association
(L-R) Kate Lecci, Elizabeth Faber, Mary Ames and Meghan Roach enjoying a fresh cut Florida orange.
"The trip to Immokalee, Florida, which is one of the Cross Cultural Mission Experiences (CCMEs) that Duquesne sponsors, is one of the most difficult to understand. With various issues focusing on immigration, farmworker rights, poverty, and safe working conditions, the students experience a wide spectrum of information that is overwhelming and educational. In order to fully understand, students learn about community, dedication, and hard work through working with community social service organizations, exploring the culture through food, and working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Student/Farmworker Alliance. With proper guidance from Kate Lecci, an experienced Campus Minister, the attendees begin to understand a variety of issues in addition to learning about critical thinking, reflecting, and formulating personal opinions. The trip perfectly fulfills the Duquesne University Mission of "Serving God by serving students" through emotional, educational, and spiritual aspects. "
— Attila Mihalik
Vice President of Finance
Student Government Association
Description of CCME Experiences
Children's Camp at a Spiritan Mission
San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic (August, 2014)
The cross-cultural experience to the Dominican Republic involves running a camp for small children at a Spiritan Mission in San Juan de La Maguana. At the Spiritan Mission students work with the teenagers of the community as well as learning about the Dominican culture. The students work with the teens by providing a day camp that includes craft projects, music, stories, and outdoor games and sports. In the evenings the group spends time with the teens and their families experiencing the culture through food, dance, and story sharing. Preference for this experience will be given to Spanish speakers
Hurricane Relief Work
March 2 to 9, 2014
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated much of New Orleans. Recovery and reconstruction efforts are still in great demand. Students are encouraged to join an SCM team over Spring break to help New Orleans residents take one step further in rebuilding their homes and their lives. Students spend the week building homes, learning about the conditions of many of the areas in and around New Orleans before and after Katrina, and discussing the root causes of the issues that allow these conditions to persist.
More information on the recovery effort:
- Office of Disaster Response for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana www.edola.org
- Catholic Charities New Orleans www.catholiccharities-no.org
- News outlet www.nola.com
March 2 to 9, 2014
This cross-cultural experience involves an immersion into the lives of migrant farmworkers in the agricultural hub of Immokalee, Florida. Participants learn and serve in local social service agencies (e.g. tutoring in day care centers, working with Habitat for Humanity). Students will listen to the stories of farmworkers and organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) that assist them with advocacy in immigration, housing, material assistance, education and healthcare.
Baileysville, WV (Feb. 28 - 5, 2014)
This annual trip to the southern coal fields region of West Virginia occurs during the first part of Spring break. Participants spend a few days working to improve housing conditions in and around the Appalachian community of Baileysville, W.V. and learn more about the people, the local economy and environmental conditions. Examples of work include home repair (no construction experience needed!) and work in a local food pantry. There will also be many opportunities to listen to the stories of local residents, an integral part of the experience. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to see another culture that's nearly in our backyard.