RLC’s spring break trips offer opportunity for helping others, having fun

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by Jessie Ernst

Imagine basking in the sunlight while building a new house or sitting in complete silence for the next 24 hours. Well, that’s what some Simpson students will be doing over their spring break.

Simpson’s Religious Life Community is making five spring break trips available for students.

The locations of these trips are Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas City Mo., Mexico and Dubuque, Iowa. There are about 50 students attending these service trips and they all have a very common goal in mind.

“The goal of the trips is to provide fellowship among the travelers, as well as open the minds of those going to a world beyond Indianola,” sophomore and Student Chaplain of Service Benay Hicks said.

Nicole Anderson, a senior participating in the New Orleans trip, has high hopes her trip will broaden her horizons.

“I am expecting for this to have a big impact on the way I appreciate what I have and how quickly that can be lost,” Anderson said.

The RLC trips will not only provide an opportunity to meet people who have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or to be acquainted with Habitat for Humanity participants in Kansas City, Mo., they may also create lasting friendships among Simpson students.

The New Orleans volunteers will be spending 20 long hours in a cramped van together, but Anderson is excited for the chance to bond with the 20 other Simpson volunteers.

“We have a very diverse group going down south, so I am very excited to have the opportunity to meet a bunch of students from Simpson that I otherwise would not have met,” Anderson said.

Along with making new friends, students will be volunteering most of their spring break time to community service projects.

The Louisiana and Mississippi trips are hurricane relief trips. Chris Waddle, chaplain and director of church relations, is taking students to Bay St. Louis, Miss., which was hit by Hurricane Katrina.

“We will be clearing debris and repairing homes through the United Methodist Committee on Relief,” Waddle said.

The Louisiana, Mississippi and Mexico groups will assist in the rebuilding of houses as well as be in community with those who have lost their homes.

Students traveling to Mexico will be in close contact with citizens.

“They will be visiting a school and playing with children,” Hicks said.

All this work may seem like too much to do over a break that’s supposed to be relaxing, but students are happy and excited about it.

“I decided I might as well spend my free time doing something for somebody else,” Anderson said. “I would like to get a feeling that I didn’t spend my break worrying about myself.”

And with all the work the volunteers do, RLC ensures they get some fun time, too.

“We have free time in the afternoons to go see the French Quarters, Bourbon Street and a Saint Patrick’s Day parade,” senior Jami Coates, a New Orleans volunteer said.

Although, sometimes a quiet spring break is just the trick. Some Simpson students opted for a more calming RLC trip to Dubuque, Iowa.

The point of the trip is “to have an alternative to the busy, noisy lives we live,” Angela Gafford, chaplain and director of RLC, said.

This year’s spring break will be the third time she has led the Dubuque trip and she’s still very optimistic about its results.

“Students have a chance to get away from their regular schedule and focus on how to create a regular routine in their life once back at Simpson,” Gafford said. “The trip is a time to think about the rhythm of their day and how to incorporate God into that.”

Gafford said she’s pleased with how the trips have gone in the past.

“The RLC trips have good interest and offer a variety of places people can go,” Gafford said. “I’ve been real pleased with people’s experiences and we will continue to do them.”

Hicks also remains interested in the trips.

“They present the opportunity for students to serve others as an alternative to being served,” Hicks said.

Coates shares a similar goal for what she expects to get out of her New Orleans trip.

“I want a chance to see and experience new things, be able to help someone and do something worthwhile for people I have never met and will never meet,” Coates said.