Another Class of ‘Men for Others’ Applies for Mission Trips
When we as a culture think of South and Central America, we imagine gorgeous beaches, tropical weather and fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas in them. While though there's nothing inherently wrong with indulging such fantasies, only addressing the appealing, commercial side of these locations ignores areas and people that are in desperate need of aid - and, as seniors at Strake Jesuit, we are given the opportunity to personally provide it.
A few weeks ago, applications for Senior Service mission trips opened for all rising seniors. With offerings such as Nicaragua, Belize and Peru, these trips provide students with the opportunity to earn their 100 necessary service hours in a potentially transformative fashion. Over the course of week-long journeys, students must look true poverty in the eyes, perhaps for the first time in their lives, and spend a chunk of their summers without many of the basic amenities that we all take for granted. Senior mission trips are not for the faint of heart - tropical vacations, they most certainly are not - but their admissions process is extremely competitive year after year, in large part thanks to the glowing feedback generated by the previous graduating class.
The opportunity to help those in need is what sets Strake’s mission trips apart from the average service opportunity. There’s something truly eye-opening about building houses near the Mexican border or digging irrigation trenches in rural Nicaragua, something that builds empathy and compassion for all of those around us. Strake Jesuit’s mission statement is to build “men for others,” and these yearly trips to some of the poorest parts of the Americas bring those words into action. The students who choose to embark on these mission trips have exactly such a mindset; there are countless ways to earn one’s senior service hours in the comfort of our lovely air-conditioned concrete jungle, yet the enormous number of applicants and participants exemplify the power behind our community and its commitment to service.
In all honesty, I’m a city boy at heart, one who could hardly imagine being away from his warm bed for more than a few nights and would never, by any stretch of the imagination, consider himself an outdoorsman. And yet the words and works of my classmates have inspired me to betray my comfort-loving nature and apply for a mission trip to Nicaragua. How such an experience might play out is still very much up in the air, but the fact of the matter is that there comes a time when being a “man for others” requires stepping out of one’s living room and into the world. For me, and for the dozens of my classmates that will apply for this year’s mission trips, that time is now.
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