Gannon University’s Good for U initiative offers opportunities for students, faculty and staff to explore their spiritual wellness and give back to the community in a different form of community service known on campus as Alternative Break Service Trips (ABST). They are organized by the Center for Social Concerns.
Spiritual wellness has so many facets of its reaches by establishing peace and harmony in our lives by aligning values with our actions. Many students have found ways to give back to the community in whole body, mind and soul through various opportunities such as Theology on Tap and Sunday Chapel, but ABSTs are a unique experience.
ABSTs take place during spring break or after the school year ends. They provide an opportunity for students to either travel somewhere in the United States that they may have never seen before or travel to far-off exotic places in order to give back to their communities and help out in a way that most schools can’t.
This year, the Center for Social Concerns is sending students and a faculty or staff accompanier on one of the 11 trips available. This includes Guatemala, Haiti, Ontario, Michigan, Florida, a Collegiate Challenge trip with Habitat for Humanity and two trips to Mexico during the week of spring break.
In May, the center is hosting three trips: one to Washington, D.C., one to Vellore, India, and also the International Trip with Habitat for Humanity.
These trips are not just a getaway trip. These trips have a purpose. On an ABST, students have the opportunity to focus on different ways of life and helping those individuals in the community and learning new things about different cultures.
So, when students leave for the trip to Guatemala, they will be focusing on community and economic development, while those making the trip to Detroit will be focusing on sustainable food systems, dignity of work and workers’ rights.
Many of the staff members who are attending are excited about the opportunity to go on this type of trip, which are a lot different from the T.R.A.V.E.L. or faculty-led trips, as these trips have their students commit to the four pillars consisting of service, simplicity, community and reflection. These trips are a way to see the world in a different way.
Jessica Hubert, director of the Center for Social Concerns, has a huge part in the organization of the ABSTs and enjoys the different level of service that students can experience.
“Sometimes service looks like giving and sometime service looks like receiving hospitality and learning from our hosts,” Hubert said.
Service is a huge part of the Gannon experience, as evidenced by two large events known as G.I.V.E Day, which stands for Gannon’s Invitation to Volunteer Everywhere and happens in the fall semester, and then Day of Caring.
Sara Nesbitt, program coordinator for the Center for Social Concerns, said the goal of ABSTs is to “introduce students to a new culture and to give an opportunity to learn and serve cross-culturally and be inspired to come back and spread what they have learned.”
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and go on an ABST in years to come, with new reasons to go every year. Contact Hubert at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nesbitt at email@example.com for more information regarding how to get involved with an ABST.