By Abby Laroy
Did you know that you don’t need to be a missionary to travel the country and serve Jesus? This is a common misconception amongst people who aspire to share the gospel universally, but fear they lack the qualifications to do so. However, Malone University offers an opportunity to do just that. Service and learning trips are designed to take students to different places around the country to experience and serve in new cultures. There are many trip opportunities. This year there is a trip taking place over Spring Break and is in Tucson, Arizona. A total of seven students and two faculty members will be departing from the Cleveland Airport on March 7th and returning March 13th. One of the faculty members leading the trip is Tony Schnyders. Most of you may know Tony as the Dean of Community Life and Student Engagement, but he is also a leader for service learning trips and encourages students to get involved and broaden their view of the world around them. This year’s trip is geared to combating immigration stigmas and educating students first hand. “There are a lot of misconceptions about what is going on at the border and this trip gives students the ability to see it first hand. We will be working with local churches and community leaders on both sides of the border. We will be educated on the different paths that asylum seekers take to cross the border, and we will hear what the local implications have been for communities that are right on the border.” said Schnyders. Schnyders also wants to emphasize the lifelong impact that service learning trips can have on students and encourages everyone who is interested to find a trip suited for them. Another trip leader is the friendly face of the Admissions front desk, Melanie Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a returning trip leader and shared that last year was her first experience on a service learning trip and was able to serve as a Spanish – English translator. Rodriguez is excited to see what students can learn, see, and experience while on the trip. “We will be learning about history, policies, facts and statistics as well as meeting people who are willing to share with us their story and culture.” said Rodriguez. Rodriguez believes that these trips offer a transformative experience for students and that it is important to expose students to a variety of cultures. Service learning trips would not be possible without the helping hands of every student participating. Alexis Price is a sophomore Social Work major in the Malone honors program and is one of seven students attending this trip. Going on a service trip will be a first time experience for Price, but she says she says she was inspired to take on this challenge by her sister, Amelia Page, and her servants heart and love for people. Price says she loves to give back to her community in any way she can, and the service learning trip is the perfect way to do that. However, trips like these can be scary, especially for first timers. Prices says she is most unsure about the harsh reality that can be integrated into other cultures. “I absolutely adore that God crafted me to be such an empathetic individual, and I see so much power in that. However, I know I have the potential to become overwhelmed and lose myself in the pain, and miss out on seeing how their pain has led to strength, perseverance, and beauty.” said Price.However, she is most looking forward to hearing stories from the natives and also growing in relationships with her team. Price also wants to encourage other students to get involved in service learning trips during their time at Malone because it pushes you out of your comfort zone. “It involves risk-taking and maybe even looking kinda silly, but it also involves utilizing, refining, witnessing, and finding God’s gifts in and within us.” said Price. That being said, Malone offers many opportunities to grow and serve spiritually on campus and off; this service trip is one of many offered this year at Malone. Don’t be afraid to listen in on student and faculty experiences from these trips.