The first half of the semester has come and will soon be gone with the arrival of spring break.
For some, that means a week of much-needed R&R, but for those involved in the Marquette Action Program, that means final preparations for the annual service trips that will send small groups of students to 18 locations across the U.S. with the mission of sharing Marquette’s Jesuit identity and growing as members of a larger community.
The M.A.P. was started over 30 years ago through Campus Ministry and has since provided students with the “opportunity to live and learn from people of different backgrounds,” their website stated. Many of this spring’s sites are revisited year after year, but 2011 also brought the addition of four new locations: Alamosa, Colo., Ewing, Va., Milboro, Va., and an additional site in Baltimore.
Each location has a particular agenda, from state park cleanup to working with local soup kitchens or Habitat for Humanity chapters. Despite differences in the nature of service that students participate in, each group designates time for reflection on their work and faith-based discussion.
M.A.P. trips enable participants to be “exposed to different social, cultural and economic situations in our society, grow in awareness of justice issues, learn how service organizations work to make a difference, meet and interact with new people, and have time to reflect upon how the experience relates to you personally and your faith,” according to the program website.
Interested students must apply for the program by mid-January, usually shortly after the beginning of the spring semester. The application consists of basic information, a few short questions that assess potential participants’ interest in the program and expectations for the trip. A list of accepted students and their site assignments are announced just over a week later, and from that point groups prepare for the week-long journey ahead of them. In the months leading up to departure, participants attend introductory and orientation sessions, along with a one-on-one meeting with their student facilitator.
At a cost of $215 for the entire week, M.A.P. is not only an option that allows participants to embrace the university’s mission, but also one that can be worked in to an undergraduate budget without much difficulty.
For those interested in exploring issues of social justice on a more global scale, Campus Ministry also coordinates a service trip to Belize over the winter holiday. The International Marquette Action Program (I.M.A.P.) adds the element of cultural immersion to the goal of exploring social justice and solidarity. The international program is more costly, but planning and preparation also begin much further in advance, giving students time for individual fundraising.
While plans for spring break 2011 are likely solidified, students can consider taking part in the M.A.P. program in the future as soon as next fall, when informational meetings are held. For many past participants, it was an experience that they are glad they took advantage of.
“My mom encouraged me to look into it because the chance to work with a program like this is rare, and not something I’ll be able to do after college,” said Elizabeth Buchner, a sophomore who went to New Orleans with M.A.P. last spring. “It goes beyond a weekend trip. You really see the progress you make at the sites you work and engage with the other members in your group to reflect on the difference you are making.”
by Amanda Stewart