Feature Story

Spring Break Interfaith Service

April 3, 2019 – by Ohio Wesleyan University

Four Ohio Wesleyan Student-Created Teams Complete Experiences in U.S., Mexico

Nearly 30 Ohio Wesleyan University students spent their spring breaks completing educational and service projects conceived and planned by their peers.

The groups traveled between March 9 and 17, and gathered together March 26 to share images from and insights about their experiences.

Before the teams left, and again at the return celebration, they received blessings from Associate Chaplain Chad Johns, director of Spring Break Interfaith Service Week, who shared a traditional Franciscan blessing:

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships … with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people and the earth … with tears to shed for those who suffer so you will reach out your hands to comfort them and change their pain into joy,” Johns said. “And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so you will do the things which others say cannot be done.”

This year’s team destinations, missions, and members were:

Lakota Nation, South Dakota – Building and Rebuilding

This interfaith team engaged in the long-term mission to rebuild Lakota-Anglo relationships through respectful conversation, deep critical reflection, and dedicated service on the Rosebud Reservation. Their work was impacted by a prairie hurricane that left many roads flooded and impassable, but their efforts including painting a teepee and making quilts for newborn children.

  • Mayson Martin (logistics leader)
  • Ellie Shoemaker (reflection leader)
  • Jacqueline Arnott
  • Acadia Caryl
  • Anna Fender
  • Leigh Stavar
  • Christopher Mickens (adviser)
  • David Soliday (adviser)

Bucerias, Mexico – Connecting with the Community

This team worked with Human Connections, an organization that specializes in cross-cultural immersion with an eye toward growth and learning for all involved, in Bucerias, along Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The group explored sustainable tourism, met with local artisans, and worked with community members, including teaching classes to area children.

  • Colette Cosgrove (logistics leader)
  • Dylan Hays (reflection leader)
  • Luis Gonzales
  • Amber Greenleaf
  • Annelise Hernandez
  • Kacie Howell
  • Christina Semeraro
  • Elenya Stephani
  • Dawn Chisebe (adviser)
  • Lynda Hall (adviser)

New York City – Gender, Sexuality, and Poverty: Navigating Overlapping Realities

This team completed service with Metropolitan Community Church of New York and the Pride Center of Staten Island to better understand the historical and current issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, including issues of isolation, acceptance, urban poverty, and access to resources.

  • Alexis Greene (logistics leader)
  • Brandon Stevens (reflection leader)
  • Maureen Brennan-Reyes
  • Anna Burkhart
  • Jacquelyn Keslar
  • Sydney Quinn
  • Becca Strider
  • Cole Hatcher (adviser)
  • Mary Kate McNally (adviser)

Washington, D.C. – Crossroads of the Powerful and Powerless

Legislators with bills. Lobbyists with agendas. Politicians with ambitions. Activists with causes. Homeless people with needs. Immigrants with dreams. The nation’s capital is composed of all of these and more. This team explored the many facets of power and poverty, completing service and meeting with organizations and individuals trying to reduce poverty and improve lives.

  • Jenelle Collier (logistics leader)
  • Alexis Thomas (Reflection leader)
  • Lauren Barnes
  • Veronica Cody
  • Alana Guzman
  • Ahmed Hamed
  • Miah Katalenas
  • Olivia Moyler
  • Dmitri Ashakih
  • Lisa Ho (adviser)
  • Michelle Kinney (adviser)

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Interfaith Service program at www.owu.edu/InterfaithService.