Spring break service trip gave me gravity, hope

By Missy Katner

Lumen Assistant Editor

I get it now: why it’s so difficult to summarize or describe a spring break service trip. Trying to do so automatically cheapens the experi­ence. But I’ll do it anyway.

Please, please, please apply for one of the trips at some point in your college career. It just might change your life.

I boarded the bus headed for Chauvin, La., a little apprehensive about not really knowing anyone else. I thought, at the very least, I’ll get to see New Orleans, which I al­ways hoped to visit.

But at the end, the sight-seeing is not what stands out about the trip.

Louisiana is a beautiful place, not just for its vast marshlands, mysteri­ous Cypress trees, and warm beach­es—it’s even beautiful in its ugli­ness. What I mean is that through all the hardship the area has seen, the people are resilient, hopeful, and willing to fight for their home. It is inspiring to see.

Their state is sinking, at an al­most sickening rate. The Mississippi River used to deposit sediment and build up the land in Louisiana. In the last century, lock and damns along the river have impeded this natural process.

Every 35 seconds, Louisiana loses a football stadium size portion of land. It’s the fastest sinking land in the world. This has been a factor in the widespread flooding and de­struction of recent storms.

The situation is not irreversible and with support, the state can work to stop the sinking. But at the current rate, most of Louisiana will be underwater in 50 years. New Or­leans will be an island.

Knowing this information gave our service trip a real sense of grav­ity. But my true service may be pass­ing this knowledge on to others.

The other reason for attending a trip like this is for rejuvenation in school but also in life. I never would have imagined I could feel so re­freshed upon returning to La Crosse after 10 days and a 20 hour bus ride. The positivity of the people on this trip was infectious; everything seemed a little brighter and my faith in people was reaffirmed.

The life of a college student is characterized by absorption with your own life. It happens to every one of us at some point. With this fast-paced lifestyle, it’s sometimes difficult to make real connections with people. Having the time and the care to listen to someone else’s story seems to get lost in my grow­ing pile of homework.

On the trip, we had no deadlines and nowhere we needed to be. We finally had the freedom to be totally present with each other, which I had not felt in a long time. And it is those moments that stand out the most.

There you go. A cheapened version of the trip.

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