While International Service Project teams are gearing up with training and fundraising for their trips this summer, non-participants of ISP trips should not feel left out as the Office of Spiritual Life offers other options to serve those in the United States as well.
Although United States Projects was not offered this year, it has been offered in the past and may be offered again in upcoming semesters.
Alexis Marsh, junior nursing and psychology double major, went on a USP trip in June 2015 to Virginia to serve at Jill’s House, a camp for children with disabilities. Their days included dancing, singing, worship, reading the Bible, and outdoor activities with their assigned “buddies.”
“Joining a USP team is definitely a big step into getting out of your comfort zone and applying your faith, especially if you don’t travel often,” Marsh said. “I felt like I wasn’t as ‘strong of a Christian’ as others around me. Just hearing previous experiences from other students encouraged me to sign up, provided me an opportunity to grow closer to God and I learned more about my faith.”
Spiritual life also offers Urban Excursions several times throughout the school year to nearby cities such as San Diego or Los Angeles.
“ISP and USP have similar visions,” said Dr. Thomas Ferko, program director of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “You’re still not in the same culture. Lots of students think they need to go to another country to experience Jesus but sometimes you just need to go across the street.”
Ferko has been on five ISP trips to different parts of Asia and Germany and has been to San Diego on Urban Excursions multiple times for training.
“There are downsides to any short-term mission trip. One is thinking you’re going to make a difference. Students put emphasis on themselves rather than God,” Ferko said. “Another downside would be forgetting to serve the people who are already in your lives.”
December Kurtz, junior photography major, said it does not matter where a person serves.
Kurtz is going on an ISP trip to Germany.
“We may feel like we aren’t doing enough because we aren’t there long but any kind of mission trip or service program is helpful to all involved,” Kurtz said. “I had my heart set on going overseas to help people and spread the word of the Lord.”
Whether they fly across the world or walk across the street, students can serve wherever they are.