KSU students to make a difference this spring break

Megan Ferguson

Kent State students from H2O Church and the University Parish Newman Center are participating in alternative spring break trips this semester to benefit the lives of others.

Students from the Catholic Student Association at the Newman Center are returning to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas with an organization called A Resource In Serving Equality — ARISE.

“The ARISE program astounded me because it was started by one person who wanted to make a difference,” said Amy Rietschlin, a senior integrated mathematics major. “It builds community and helps the people to help themselves.”

The program, which first opened in 1987 in Las Milpas on the border of Mexico, works with families to strengthen their communities. Many of these families are lacking basic necessities, such as clean water, said Mary Lynn Delfino, pastoral associate at the Newman Center.

“I got to meet people from all over the world who had partaken in an incredible journey that my privileged mind could never fathom,” Rietschlin said.

Rietschlin said it is important to put a face to refugees during mission trips so that students understand who they are benefiting.

Glen Wernke, a senior public health major, said he went on the trip to better understand diversity and why the Catholic Church stands with immigrants. It helped him better understand the problems refugees face on a day-to-day basis, he said. 

“Everyone has a story. All we need to do is take the time to listen,” Wernke said.

H2O Church is also sending four groups of people to four different locations this spring break for various service projects: Hyderabad, India; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; and Buffalo, New York.

Lauren Woolum, a staff member at H2O Church, said these trips are valuable experiences for anyone of spirituality to attend.

Woolum said the trip to India will be with a ministry called Back2Back, which will have students caring for orphans in the area. Students going to Florida will serve the newest H2O Church at the University of Central Florida.

Other students in New York will be working with the Jericho Road Community Health Center to learn more about health in the local community, and students attending the trip to Tennessee will spend their spring break in nature reflecting on the Bible and God.

“Do the a-typical college thing (and) get outside yourself in one way or another,” Woolum said.

Megan Ferguson is the religion reporter, contact her at [email protected].