Wednesday March 14, 2018

Breakout

For college students, spring break is a wonderful lull from the chaotic stream of weekly course work, research, extra curricular activities, service, and any other activity that may cause stress. Students may use the time off to visit family or take a road trip. Rather than catch up on homework, I used my spring break to participate in a UD breakout trip!

To facilitate excursions off campus for breaks in the academic school year, the University of Dayton offers breakout trips to provide students to grow in ways outside of the classroom. The UD website describes the breakouts as, “a fulfilling experience that helps the community through services that include: rehabilitating low-income housing, working in soup kitchens, tutoring and mentoring at-risk children, cultural immersion and appreciation, and many other opportunities while also broadening your own perspectives.” For my breakout trip, four of my fellow Flyers and I ventured to the L'Arche community of St. Louis!

The L’Arche community of St. Louis was joyfully smiling when they welcomed us with open arms. L’Arche is an organization that helps people with disabilities, called “core members”, by providing them with housing and assistants to help with any of their daily challenges. The assistants are not, however, by any stretch of the imagination, running the show. They are simply around to keep an eye on the core members. From my observations, core members are far too busy to be held down by anybody!

From basketball games to art studios to service events, L’Arche core members are constantly on the move. They have busy schedules with a lot going on! One of my favorite events is the weekly ritual of Friday karaoke night. To name a few, we rocked out to John Denver, Frozen, and even the theme song to Reading Rainbow! Two members of our UD group brought guitars, which made for quite the jam session. 

Our UD group spent plenty of time in all three L'Arche houses in St. Louis. We hung out with core members, helped with yard work, and reflected with group sessions. We also had some time to explore the city of St. Louis, which was great. 

My most memorable experience from the trip was building relationships with core members of L’Arche. They were some of the most genuine people I have ever met, and had so much life to give. Not to mention, they were extremely big goofballs! For instance, Jim, living in a room adjacent to mine during my stay, was constantly laughing and sharing his jovial smile and plenty of jokes. He was very welcoming as well, regularly checking with me to make sure he was not being too loud in his room next door.

Throughout all of my time in St. Louis, I continually thought about future UD groups visiting L’arche. Becoming familiar with such a warm community was excellent. If we were able to bring some of L’Arche’s warm environment back to UD, even just a little bit, then our trip was certainly worth it, and will be for groups of the future as well.

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