Every year, Y-Serve provides a number of service trips over spring break. These trips give students a time to serve, learn, travel, and grow. On Thursday, Nov. 2, Y-Serve shared this year’s prospective spring break trips and what interested students could expect, based on past trips to Georgia and West Virginia. Anton Flores, Y-Serve’s contact in Georgia, joined the group to share about his community house and to detail what students could expect if they chose to serve on the Georgia trip.
Y-Serve’s spring break trips provide an opportunity for students to travel and serve in a cost-effective manner. A large portion of Y-Serve’s budget is used to help fund the trips over spring break. This gives students interested in serving a cheaper alternative to get involved. Y-Serve also provides several scholarships that can be put toward service-oriented trips. Y-Serve hopes to provide at least three different trips for students to pick from. Currently, the tentative trips involve one trip spending time with both Alterna and Jubilee Partners in Georgia. Y-Serve also hopes to send groups to work for Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and Sharing with Appalachian People (SWAP). MDS service assignments are distributed around the country, while SWAP is in a generally concentrated area with locations in Kentucky and West Virginia. Each trip is student-led, with prospective leaders applying.
Flores provided background on Alterna, a hospitality house located in a Latino neighborhood in LaGrange, Georgia. Flores lives with his wife in a neighborhood that is culturally Guatemalan. Flores’ biggest focus is the hospitality within the community, describing “the receiving of hospitality” as the most life-giving part of work. Flores founded Alterna in 2006 and is currently the “self-appointed pastor” for the neighborhood.
Flores described the prospective mission, or aims, for students choosing to go to Alterna over spring break. While there is a chance for service such as community beautification or tutoring, students will also focus on experiencing the community and hospitality. Flores hopes to have students stay in the homes of community members, being able to listen and learn from those living in the community. Students might get the chance to learn how to cook tamales from the residents of the neighborhood and afterwards share a meal while listening to stories of migration to America.
The trip will likely extend outside of Alterna, giving the chance for students to experience different cultures in nearby areas. Flores hoped to spend one day at Stewart Detention Center in Atlanta, Georgia. There students would visit people facing deportation and hear their stories. Another tentative day trip would be to a local intentional community where Mennonite activist Shane Claiborne will be sharing.
The other half of the trip to Georgia will be spent at Jubilee Partners, an intentional community in Comer, Georgia. Jubilee is a place for refugees to learn English, become familiar with the country, and start their new lives. Volunteer work at Jubilee Partners is broad. Students might be asked to help with anything from cooking, maintenance, or teaching English to residents.
The spring break trips are a way for students to commit to a short-term service project. This gives the opportunity for students to experience what it is to serve, as well as join in on a cross-cultural experience, with students going to new areas with new people. Y-Serve’s service trips provide a way for students to give as well as receive. Senior Y-Serve member Jack Hummel said his favorite part about past trips was “getting to know and be comfortable around new people, and the sense that you were doing something meaningful.” Wherever Y-Serve goes this spring, whether it be Georgia, West Virginia, or elsewhere, there are several great options this coming spring for students to get involved in service.