Immersion in Texas
Prya Oliveira, Staff Writer
During spring break, Saint Martin’s University gave students the opportunity to go on an immersion trip to McAllen, Texas. Here, students volunteered their time to serve a community other than their own. Jessica Andres, a Saint Martin’s junior, talked to The Belltower about the trip and highlighted the impact and importance of the trip.
When asked how her group served the community of McAllen, Andres answered, “I was giving a voice for those who could not and voguing for them in their time of need.”
She also mentioned the power that is given to young adults and said, “as young adults, we can listen and act, so being at this age gives us leverage to go out and serve the community not just leaving them on the curve and forgetting about them.”
So how does this connect to Benedictine values? The Saint Martin’s website reads that the goal of immersion trips is to “summon in you an ethical call to personal and social transformation, to engage in authentic relationships with others and address the needs of our shared humanity.”
Andres says that through these amazing immersion trips, you are given the opportunity “to advocate, be present, and serve with the dignity of your heart.”
Other students on the McAllen immersion trip have published various blog posts on the Saint Martin’s Ministry website regarding their experience. Shayeleen Quintana, a Saint Martin’s senior said, “We have encountered people and families coming from different walks of life, and we were reminded in these interactions, how truly important it is to remember to treat another person as a human being first and foremost.”
Cung Le, another senior, commented on her trip, and said “Being in a service where the majority was in Spanish brought me home in a way. It reminded me that I, along with so many other people in the world have a different first language than English.”
It is interesting to hear that volunteering at places away from home can still manage to make some feel so connected to themselves. This trip has resulted in students partaking in a lot of self-reflection.
Andres said the trip to McAllen has changed her in many ways: “A lot of people believe that heading to the US-Mexico border is dangerous and unsafe, however, when visiting the border, there was no threat and seemed peaceful for the most part. Going on the McAllen trip made me realize just how much work needs to be done in our country because there are so many people suffering yet, we aren’t helping them.”
A few other students who attended this trip said that they would recommend immersion trips to anyone who is interested in service because it broadens their perspective on the world. This experience has helped students to step out of their comfort zones and experience a new side of life.
“I can say, coming back from this trip made me feel more inspired to make a huge change with our policies in our country and to really push what is right,” Andres said.
Andres concluded the interview by saying that the McAllen trip differed from the Flint trip because “the Texas trip mainly focused on immigration while the Flint trip focused on systemic poverty we face in our country.”