Motivation for mission trips differs among students

Jake Sprong, senior, spent nine days during the summer on a mission trip with Christ Church of Oakbrook in Santo Domingo.He helped build a home for a Haitian family and rebuilt a church for a youth group. “You get to see how the world lives, and it gives you a fresh perspective,” Sprong said.

Mission trips have become a cliché. Students are immersed in their friends, building a resume and college applications. Even though some go for these reasons, students find their priorities changing by the end of the trip. The motivations between each student were different and each experienced something different.

Sprong explained how everyone worked together for one person regardless of their background, during the trip. “There was no luxury when we were down there. The only luxuries we had were for our safety, but everyone there regardless of background worked together for one purpose,” Sprong said.

Adam Bloyd, senior, also attended the trip in Santo Domingo. “We went there to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, help out the poverty, and spread the word of God,” Bloyd said.

In order to be allowed to attend the trip, each student was interviewed.  There also was a high commitment level. Bloyd believes because of these factors there weren’t a lot of people who went only for friends.  “I don’t think so because of the commitment level you have to have for this trip, and also, it’s not the purpose of why someone would go on the trip,” Bloyd said.

Melina Vitális, senior, went to Caguas, Puerto Rico because she wanted to volunteer somewhere this summer.

During the trip, she painted outside walls and ceilings, picked up trash, and pulled weeds.  “This was different because I really felt like I made a positive impact on the home owner’s life. It was really emotional when our group had to leave because we not only finished her house, but we became friends,” Vitális said

Her church doesn’t have a youth group, so when she heard about the trip through a friend she jumped on the opportunity to volunteer. “I think there are people out there who go on mission trips only because of friends, but there are others like me who just want to help out with friends,” Vitális said.

Emilie Bush, senior, believes that around 30 percent of students who go on mission trips go for their friends.  Bush went on a mission trip this summer to Guatemala City, Guatemala. Bush expressed how she always wanted to go on a mission trip and she had been waiting a long time to go on this one.

“I’ve never done anything like it. I thought it would kind of help me figure out what I want to do with my life and who I am and going to help people,” Bush said.

In a poll taken of 55 students, 63 percent of them said helping out was the reason for volunteering. Thirty percent said it looked good on college resumes, and 7 percent said they volunteered for friends.

Bush admits that some people participate for social reasons, but she believes that during the trip, an individual’s intentions can change. “[Friends] might be one of the reasons at first, but I think that when you’re there you’d be surprised of how much you get out of it and how meaningful it is. So if it is initially one of the reasons, but by the end it’s not about that,” Bush said.

Students like Sprong found their purposes changing by the end of the mission trip. “Every day I try to live up to the expectations that the little kids there hold me to.  They turned people like me into their role model and everyday I’m challenged to be that role model that they want me to be,” Sprong said.