While college students from all over the United States attend spring break by traveling to a variety of different locations all around the world, 16 students, along with Community Service Coordinator Jacob Richard and Director of Service Learning and Campus Ministries Mike Fales, went to Houston, Texas, to help those in need from hurricane damage experienced last August.
Olivet College’s alternative spring break trips, sometimes called service learning trips, were created by Fales. According to an article on the Olivet College website, “Michael Fales established an alternative spring break for Olivet College to test if students would be willing to give up their spring break to help a community in need.” Every year since 2007, when the trips rststarted, Fales and students on campus have continued to spread relief all over America.
This year, Fales decided to contribute to the cleanup in Houston, Texas, by taking students and working with others who volunteered in helpingrenovate ood damaged homes causedby Hurricane Harvey.
Travis Bubenik of Houston Public media said, “In Houston, there has been progress getting the city back to where it was before Hurricane Harvey.” Bubenik also said, “Billions of dollars have been distributed to help victims rebuild, some essential parts of theregion’s ood infrastructure have beenrepaired, and debris cleanup continues.”
The 16 students who went on this trip traveled nine days, from Friday, March 9 to Sunday, March 18. According to Fales, while on this trip, the students were hosted by Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church, where they were also given a shared place to sleep with 60 other students from Colorado State University.
Although the purpose of this trip was to help those in need, the Olivet College students worked a shift from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and were then able to go explore areas in and around Hous- ton. One of the places was Galveston, an island city where students enjoyed the Gulf of Mexico and a sandy beach. Junior Nataliya Malaydakh said, “I have never been to the ocean, so swimming in the Gulf and having an opportunity to enjoy salty breeze after a hard day ofwork was very rewarding and definitely worth it.”
According to Zachary Barricks, a senior at Olivet College, “The adventure of going with a group of Olivet Comets to take on Houston, Texas, was one worth signing up for.” Fales comment- ed in another article that much work was done over the week, including the students assisting a mother and child get back into their damaged home.
According to Nina Seretis, a writer for The Prospect Magazine, “It can be an extremely cool experience to immerse yourself into a community’s culture even for a week and to get a glimpse of what it’s like to live in poverty or a situation completely di erentfrom your own hometown.”