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Campus Ministry Students Receive More Than They Give

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As the 2008-2009 school year comes to an end, 155 students involved in their campus ministry programs in the Diocese of Raleigh will have life-long memories as the result of mission trips they took earlier this spring. Students from UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington, East Carolina, Duke, Elon and NC State spent their spring break traveling to locations in the United States and Central America to help those less fortunate.

Duke students traveled to El Estor, Guatemala, where they were involved in projects at El Casa Indigena, a dormitory for Mayan boys. According to Clara Yang, co-coordinator for the Duke mission trip, work consisted of carrying cinder blocks, chipping off the plaster on the walls and chiseling holds in the walls for PCV pipes in the renovation of a bathroom. In addition to the manual labor part of the trip, the students also participated in social and community activities and played sports with the youngsters.

“The El Estor community is a second home to me,” Yang said. “It is a familiar place and a place so full of God’s love, and the people are willing to share it. I think my teammates knew instinctively how to reciprocate their kindness and love. The connection we made was a holy and blessed one, and I believe that this trip showed magnificently how individuals’ faiths can be manifested to work for the common good.”

Other campus ministry groups worked with the poor in the U.S. NC State students traveled to Indiana to clean homes for elderly/disabled, build homes with Habitat for Humanity, conduct a confirmation retreat for middle school students and volunteer in a convent nursing home.

“By the simple act of showing up to help someone, you can change a person’s day and help them immensely. This makes them incredibly thankful and reminds you that even the smallest act can have a great impact,” said Maureen Matroni-Rakes (class of 2009).

Sixty-one students from UNC-Chapel Hill went to four different locations. A group of 15 went to St. Tammany, Louisiana, to work with Habitat for Humanity, and another group of 15 joined up with campus ministry students from other dioceses to work on the Christian Appalachian Project in Mckee, Kentucky. Fourteen students traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to work with abandoned children at an orphanage. And a group of sixteen worked with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in five inner-city schools and their after-school programs.

“What struck me the most about my time with the Good Works program was how beautiful it would be to live in a community in which the sole purpose is to serve our neighbor, without bias, distinction or fear,” said Sarah Gonzales, who will graduate May 10.

UNC-Wilmington’s students also took part in the Christian Appalachian Project. Seung Yu, campus minister, said all the students expressed great satisfaction with the week, agreeing that it was more than they thought it would be.

Eleven students from Elon University traveled to Mt. Pleasant, SC, to work with East Cooper Habitat for Humanity. "This is my second mission trip working with Habitat for Humanity, and the feeling you get from working on the houses, and knowing that the family that will live there will be eternally grateful for your help, never gets old," said Justin Sposato, president of the Elon group.

“We were fortunate enough to be present for a house dedication ceremony, and I will never forget the look on that mother's face when she saw everyone who had come out for the ceremony. She knew she was blessed indeed!” Sposato added. “Not only are you doing a good deed for another family, but the friendships that are created on these trips are ones that last a lifetime. It is an awesome experience when a group of people can come together to perform such great things for others."

East Carolina’s Campus Ministry program sent a total of 16 students to two locations in Florida, Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, where they refurbished houses. For Jackie Josten, it was “an opportunity to climb out of my shell.”

Josten and eleven other students worked on homes damaged by tropical storm Fay. “The trip for me was a complete success,” Josten said. “I did the Lord’s work and made valuable friends while doing so. In my life I have hardly ever been so sweaty, dusty, exhausted, and happy.”

Elon University

Above and below: Elon University Campus Ministry students working on a Habitat for Humanity project in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

NC State University

Above and below: NSCU Campus Ministry students spending spring break in Indiana cleaning homes for the elderly and working for Habitat for Humanity.

East Carolina University

Above and below: East Carolina University Campus Ministry students refurbishing homes in Daytona Beach, FL, damaged by tropical storm Fay.

UNC - Chapel Hill

Above and below: One group of 61 UNC-CH Campus Ministry students working at one of four different locations during spring break mission trip.

Duke University

Above and below: Duke Campus Ministry students working on facilities at a boys' dormitory in Es Estor, Guatemala.

UNC - Wilmington

Above and below: UNC-Wilmington Campus Ministry on site at Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky.