Saturday, March 19, 2016

Asheville Immersion Trip

As many of you know I spent my spring break in Asheville, North Carolina and had a blast! I want to give everyone a little background about what I was doing.

I became an advisor with Bear Breaks at Missouri State. Bear Breaks helps students plan and attend immersions trips here is their definition of what an immersion trip is:

"The Spring Immersion Trips are week long experiences where students are immersed into a new culture, group of people, and experience.  Trips include direct service with local agencies, learning about a specific social issue, social time in the destination city, and time to hang out with other students. "

At first the idea of driving a van of students across state lines sounded like a nightmare to me but I decided to put myself out of my comfort zone because I loved the purpose idea of the trip and I always am complaining about wanting to travel more. This trip also allowed me to interact with students and was great experience for my major outside of the classroom.

Here is a picture of our group:

Not only did we have a blast I think each and every person left feeling moved and I know I learned a lot. My favorite day of service was the day we spent at the Haywood Street Respite. This was a church and a community of people dedicated to making an impact on the lives of the homeless in Asheville. The church offers a clothing bank, meals, and a respite where people without homes can come after being in the hospital to recover. We were expected to roll up our sleeves and do some manual labor, but we were called into a room and it was explained to us that we would be serving through eating at the meal they serve and connecting with the people around us, most of which were living on the streets. The man talking to us told us everyone is broken and sometimes talking to someone is the best thing that you can do for them. We also got to hear from a man named Keith, who was on the streets for 9 years. His story broke my heart but at the same time I was moved about the sense of hope he had. Here is us with Keith in the green:

We stayed for the meal, which was delicious, and we all decided that we wanted to stay for the church service, even though part of the group was not religious. The church was the absolute coolest church I have ever been too. The building was old and there wasn't much special about it, but they allowed dogs in church! The congregation was extremely diverse, some were living on the streets and others were dressed in suits. The pastor was dressed humbly in a flannel shirt and a beanie and had his dog Penny with him. One thing I loved about the service was that they incorporated secular music. They had us sing "My List" by Toby Keith, if you are not familiar it's this song:

People from the pews spoke up after the pastor gave the sermon about what they thought and gave their own interpatations and it was one of the most honest and helpful places I've ever been. It really showed the how importance of community and honesty are and that's something I will take back with me.

The trip left me making more goals for myself and wanting to devote more time to volunteering, which I plan to do,  so we will see what I can get rolling!

This was such a great trip and opportunity, I recommend it to any gradate assistants at Missouri State and especially those studying Student Affairs!

Oh and we got a ton of free time, which we spent exploring downtown Asheville and hiking so here are some more pictures.

   And we have an awesome video!