Finding God on Gannon’s Campus

Happy spring to you all. I was walking around yesterday and I was almost caught off guard with how green the grass was, and the flowers blooming on A.J.’s Way and elsewhere on campus.

Praise God for the start of a new season!

What I would like to talk about in this week’s column is actually something that happened about a month and a half ago.

I want to talk about Alternative Break Service Trips – ABSTs – and my experience, as well as that of a friend of mine. I believed that I should write about this because I had a conversation with another student last week.

I mentioned ABSTs, to which her response was, “What in the world is that?”

To those of you who think of it as yet another acronym, hear me out! ABSTs happen over Gannon’s spring break every year.

Students, faculty and staff travel together in a group either domestic or abroad.

This year, there were trips to Mexico, Toronto, Detroit, Haiti, Guatemala and more.

There were eight trips that occurred over spring break, and one still to happen next month, where students will go to Washington, D.C.

Gannon partners with organizations for the trips so that the travelers will get to experience service work with other people who are advocating for change in a radical and purposeful way.

Habitat for Humanity and L’Arche are two organizations that partner with Gannon and they have both domestic and foreign trips.

I was blessed to go on an ABST to Detroit and I had a blast.

I enjoyed getting to be immersed in the culture of Detroit and working with Earthworks, an organization that was focused on working toward food justice for the surrounding community.

They were connected with a Capuchin soup kitchen, and they had a couple greenhouses and gardens where they grew food and herbs.

People were encouraged to grow their own garden plots, and we got to help prepare the greenhouses by making the soil fit for growing plants, cutting up straw, trimming vines and much more.

One of my fellow trip members and friends, Malik Hassan, was willing to share his thoughts about Detroit.

“The best part about the trip was the atmosphere,” he said. “Going to Detroit, I thought it was going to be negative because I have visited Detroit before and it was from an outside looking in perspective and didn’t allow me to truly engage with the people of Detroit.

“[This trip] allowed me to meet the people of Detroit, and I was just captivated by their beauty.”

Malik also mentioned that he felt those connections not only with citizens of Detroit, but also with the people he traveled with, and I feel the same way about them too.

Malik was recently chosen as one of the trip leaders for the Detroit ABST for next year.

“I hope to make great friends like I did this year,” he said. “I mean… everyone in the group just had great insight, whether it was spiritual, or from a day-to-day basis – a personal perspective; it was great.”

God is truly present in the ABST trips.Even though we are going to serve and give, there is so much more that we receive from him and from the people that we meet that is incredibly amazing and life changing.

May God be with you today, and for the rest of the semester.

 

 

NATHAN DEMAREST

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