Lakers prepare for Spring Break service

Sarah Klein, Staff writer

Spring Break is only two weeks away, and here at Mercyhurst students are getting ready for midterms and mid-semester projects. While many students are looking forward to going home or to Florida, others have been planning for a different kind of break: an alternative Spring Break trip.

This type of trip is one focused on service and giving back, frequently involving travel to an area where people are seeking assistance. This year, Mercyhurst students will be participating in three different trips: one to Mexico, one to Detroit and one to Alabama.

This year, about 18 students, alumni and faculty members will be heading down to Valladolid, Mexico, for a medical mission trip. Once there, they will be joining volunteers from across the country to serve patients in clinics.

“This trip really is an incredible opportunity to experience another culture and give back to a community that’s very different than our own,” sophomore Forensic Science major Heather Atkinson said. “You really learn so much about others and about yourself when you immerse yourself in different cultures.”

This trip was recommended to her by fellow volunteer Raejonna Pascarella, a junior Sports Medicine major who has completed this trip twice already.
“There are so many amazing things that I look forward to on this trip. If I had to pick the most important, it would have to be not only getting to see and scrub in on surgeries, but also interacting with the villagers of Valladolid,” Pascarella said.

The trip made such as impact on Pascarella that she keeps going back.
“This year will be my third year attending the trip,” she said. “I started attending my freshman year, and the trip ignited a fire inside of me that forced me to go back.”
Pascarella is one of many serial Spring Break volunteers.

Twelve students, along with two chaperones, will be attending the highly anticipated annual Habitat for Humanity Spring Break trip in Birmingham Alabama, this year, many for the third or fourth time.

This trip is a weeklong experience helping a family in need by building them a home. This year marks the first year in many that the club has gone to a location outside of Monroe, North Carolina.

While on the trip, students can do anything from gutting a home that needs to be restored to building a brand-new house.
“When I went last year, we built the entire frame of the house, so in a week, we literally went from just the concrete slab of foundation to a framed house with a roof and a porch,” Julia Wrest, sophomore Intelligence Studies major, said.

Wrest is excited to participate for her second year.

Sophomore Intelligence Studies major Marina Delmoro will also be participating with Habitat for Humanity for her second year as well. She currently serves as treasurer of the Habitat club.
“I always wanted to join Habitat for Humanity when I learned about their goals and mission in high school. A couple of Habitat houses were built in my hometown, and I just fell in love with the ability to give back,” Delmoro said.

The final alternative Spring Break option is to Detroit, where Service Learning Coordinator Bethany Brun leads around 10 students each year for an urban immersion experience.
While in Detroit, students work with Neighbors Building Brightmoor, an organization dedicated to reducing urbanstrife via urban farming and land reclamation. Students will also have the opportunity to explore the city and experience its history and culture.

Every year, dozens of Mercyhurst students embark on alternative Spring Breaks to live out the Mercy mission in a new and powerful way.

“College is a great time to experience different cultures and explore the world in ways that aren’t typically offered. It’s an experience you really won’t forget,” Atkinson said.