Instead of traveling to a remote location with friends for spring break, students are choosing to help repair homes, serve food at soup kitchens, tutor children and interact with the elderly in different parts of the United States and Ecuador.

Around 50 students attended a spring break service trip information session on Oct. 30 to learn more about spring break opportunities and how to get involved in this annual Fairfield tradition.

“I think it’s important to take the time to step outside of your experience outside campus to walk with others who are less fortunate and give back,” said Wylie Blake, campus minister for service.

Students are able to apply for service trips next semester in Kentucky, Florida, Washington D.C. and New Orleans, according to Blake. The international trip is in Duran, Ecuador.

The cost of the service trips range from $350 to $1,200, depending on whether students drive or fly to their spring break location.

Senior Lauren Bruchansky, who has participated in three service trips, said, “It is definitely a different culture. Once you talk to people and understand their way of life, you find out how much you have in common with them.”

When students are on the trips, they work by day and in the evenings and have reflections and discussions about their experiences.

Students who participate in the program must commit to exploring their faith, raise money and awareness, as well as significantly limit their cell phone use, Blake said.

Forty students can go on the four domestic service trips offered, while only 10 can travel to Ecuador, Blake said. Once selected, the students hold mandatory meetings six to seven times before departing for spring break. This, Blake noted, allows the students to become comfortable with each other before arriving at their service trip location.

“When you come to Fairfield, one of the first things you learn in FYE is about the Jesuit ideals, men and women for others, and Magis. Those are two things that students engage in in throughout the whole service trip process, beginning to end,” Blake said.

The application deadline for the service trip is Monday, Nov. 11, at 11:59 p.m., by which time students need to include a $100 deposit along with two references. Once the application is received, they sign up for an interview in mid-November. Students will be notified whether they are accepted to participate in a service trip by Thanksgiving break.

Jocelyn Collen, Campus Minister for Immersions and Pilgrimages, heads the international service trips. She will join students in spending time in different communities, meet the locals and their families, cook and try to experience what it is like living in poverty.

“(Students) can expect to learn how different life can be outside of the USA, and in a totally new environment,” said Collen. “Students can expect to have their worldview challenged and witness the global effect of their lifestyle in the United States on our brothers and sisters in Latin America.”

This isn’t the first time that students have traveled abroad for the spring break service trip, according to Collen. In the past, students have gone to Nicaragua, Jamaica, Belize and Mexico.

For more information on the spring break service trips, visit fairfield.edu/immersion.

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