During fall break 2019, 216 Creighton University students deployed on Service & Justice Trips across 17 states to learn, reflect and serve those on the margins.
They met with migrants attempting to remain in the United States, dived into the history of the civil rights movement in the south, supported the work of Habitat for Humanity in a small Oklahoma town, and conducted service projects nearer home in Lincoln and Omaha.
They also worked with people experiencing homelessness, served those with physical or mental disabilities, tutored, battled hunger issues and worked with Native American populations.
All told, Creighton students participated in 30 Service & Justice Trips across New Mexico, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Nebraska. The trips, which are student led and involve no Creighton faculty or staff, last either a full week or a half-week for service projects in Omaha and Lincoln.
Jeff Peak, assistant director of Creighton’s Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, says the trips are one way the University fulfills its Jesuit mission and through which students can experience a world where privation and struggle often are encountered.
“There is a large education component to these trips,” he says. “The goal is to give the students a better understanding of complex issues.”
One of the larger trip themes ismigration, Peak says, and 37 students, divided into four teams, spent the week in El Paso, Texas, which borders Mexico, and in Anthony, New Mexico, 18 miles north of El Paso. Here the students provided services to migrants, observed court hearings on removals and heard presentations from attorneys and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
Others traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, where they worked with Resurrection Catholic Mission, tutoring in an elementary school, serving needy families and adults and visiting historic sites associated with the civil rights movement.
One of the longstanding Service & Justice Trips is to the small Oklahoma town of Stroud, population 2,690, where for more than a decade Creighton students have helped the Stroud chapter of Habitat for Humanity build houses.
Marilyn Wheeler, president of Stroud Habitat, says the town looks forward every year to the arrival of the Creighton students.
“Sometimes they prime houses, sometimes they roof houses,” she says.
“Today they are sheet-rocking, yesterday they were insulating the house. They built a shed yesterday. They also worked at the Stroud Food Pantry and did mentoring at Jacob’s Ladder, which is an after-school program for kids functioning below grade level.
“They do everything in Stroud. They’re fabulous, the best of the best.”
Creighton’s popular Service & Justice Trips take place in the spring and fall. Student applications for Spring 2020 Service & Justice Trips are due Nov. 21.
This post originally appeared in a Creighton Today news release on October 21, 2019.