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  • Sydney Umstead

Immersion trip highlights caring for creation

By: Sydney Umstead, News Editor

Campus Ministry has opened applications for the spring break immersion trip to the Hudson Valley, New York, which will focus on ecojustice and marginalized communities. 

The visit to Hudson Valley is new to the program in terms of topic coverage, but the group is in collaboration with facilities in the area. Spencer Liechty, director of Campus Ministry, stated that the trip is also similar to those in the past in that it is not just about going to these places for a week: “It is really about learning, building relationships and then reflecting on how we bring that back.” 

When planning these trips, Liechty says he looks at a “broad array of social justice topics.” In regard to the visit to Hudson Valley specifically, he found that it worked well for “being at a Jesuit Catholic institution and the call for us to care for creation,” which amplifies one of the Society of Jesus’s universal apostolic preferences to care for the earth.

During their time in the Hudson Valley, Liechty noted that Campus Ministry will work with an ecojustice spirituality center in the area. Furthermore, “There is a center there that’s run by — or inspired by — the Dominican Sisters, and part of the week will be spent doing some hands-on work on the land.” After that, “Other activities during the week will also be working with people.” 

The theme of the trip is “environmental ecojustice, but also working with marginalized communities,” said Liechty. During the trip, he explained, “There will be a few opportunities to work with people who might be experiencing homelessness or poverty in the area.” This, he hopes, will allow for an understanding of “how caring for creation both involves caring for the land and also caring for people.” 

Through the ministry, students have access to three trips during the summer, winter and fall breaks. For the last winter immersion trip, students had the opportunity to visit East Los Angeles, which Liechty stated focused on “people experiencing homelessness [and] poverty. Tripgoers also collaborated with the organization Homeboy Industries, which was founded by Father Greg Boyle and works towards navigating gang rehabilitation and working with formerly incarcerated individuals. 

The other winter visit to Wheeling, West Virginia “was focused on food justice, advocacy and using art as a way to advocate for different social justice topics,” said Liechty. The summer immersion program will travel to the U.S. / Mexico border which will look at the topic of immigration. 

Throughout these trips, Liechty highlighted how for him “experiential learning is really effective.” While being in the classroom is important, the service-learning experience also allows students to apply their knowledge which can help “ that whole education come to life.” The immersion experience can also impact what a student decides to do “career-wise.” The hope and the goal that Liechty has for the experience is “about presenting something, [and] experiencing something, encountering someone or something and counting to reflect on what that means.” 

A QR code is linked to the flier for the spring break immersion trip application. Applicants will then be brought to a Google form with questions relating to “gathering information.” There is also a question asking students to state why they are interested in attending this trip which helps the Campus Ministry to decide who will be attending the immersion experience because while Liechty stated he would love to take everyone, there is a cap put on attendants.

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