Spring break is quickly approaching and students are preparing to leave the Stonehill bubble for a fun-filled week. Some students are combining the fun of Spring Break with a week of service for those in need. Students participate in H.O.P.E. trips as an alternative spring break program with the intention of making a difference domestically or internationally in impoverished or disaster-stricken areas. In the past students have served in the Bronx, New York; Camden, New Jersey; Wetzel Country, West Virginia; Cosby, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; Phoenix, Arizona; and Coachella, California. Internationally, Stonehill students have travelled to La Romana, Dominican Republic; Guaimaca, Honduras; San Salvador, El Salvador; Chacraseca, Nicaragua; and Canto Grande, Peru.
Rooted in the Catholic Social Teaching
H.O.P.E. represents Stonehill College’s Catholic social teaching and exemplifies the Congregation of the Holy Cross’s commitment to a serving those less fortunate. The program is open to all Stonehill College students, regardless of religious affiliation. Through these annual community-service trips Stonehill students are immersed in unjust social realities throughout the world. Through these experiences of growth and knowledge, H.O.P.E. seeks to carry out Fr. Basil Moreau’s educational philosophy that “forms people into agents of justice and engages the whole person – mind and heart.”
H.O.P.E. trips adopt four pillars including: honoring our neighbors, organizing for justice, practicing peace, and encountering God. In the five months leading up to the H.O.P.E. trip, participating Stonehill students reflect on these pillars while they learn about the culture, history, and issues of social injustice in the communities they will be visiting. After returning from the H.O.P.E. trip students are asked to reflect on their experience and integrate the four pillars of H.O.P.E. into their everyday lives.
Participating H.O.P.E. students are involved in many different activities in their service sites, including community development, sustainable agriculture, education, and political advocacy. Through their hands-on work, students’ return to campus armed with the knowledge of social injustices and a passion to create solutions to these inequalities. Students also gain a better understanding of the importance of diversity, including the differences between communities, the inherent value and dignity of each person, a raised awareness of societies, and the different cultures, worldviews, and political beliefs that make up our world. Furthermore, students participating in H.O.P.E. also engage in communal reflection on the service they are completing and how their service fosters the growing faith of Catholic social teaching. H.O.P.E. trips ultimately aid in student growth and instill in each participant a dedication of social betterment in marginalized societies.
You can read more about two students’ H.O.P.E. experiences here:
Alex Wilgoos has visited New Orleans, Arizona, and Nicaragua.
Lauren Mazzola has participated in a Nicaragua trip and will return there this year.
If you would like to learn more about H.O.P.E. visit this link http://www.stonehill.edu/community-global-engagement/service-and-outreach/hope/. If you are interested in alternative spring break service trips for future academic years, please contact the Campus Ministry Office. Visit this link if you would like to apply for a future H.O.P.E. trips http://www.stonehill.edu/offices-services/campus-ministry/service-and-outreach/hope-service-immersion-/.
If you are preparing to leave for a H.O.P.E. trip this year and would like to learn more about your destination before you go, you can browse HillSearch for travel materials. You can also conduct research on “social justice,” or read the eBook, Training for peace and humanitarian relief operations: advancing best practices as you prepare. If you have any questions about resources, or wish to learn more prior to your trip, contact email@example.com, call 508.565.1203, or come visit us at the Reference Desk!
Written by Kasey Lynn Berardi ’14