Today’s blogger is I also known as the OSI Marketing Team’s Social Media Coordinator, Teresa Nguyen. I’m a sophomore majoring in Public Relations and Advertising. On campus, I am involved in Chi Omega Sorority, Freefall DePaul, and Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity in which I serve as the Vice President of Membership. I also spent my spring break with the UMIN Service Immersion program in Montgomery, Alabama and I am so grateful to share my story with the DePaul community.
Has it ever crossed your mind how long or what it takes for a person, group of people, or an event to make an impact on your life? This is a question that lingered in my mind in my experience over this spring break service immersion trip.
Hearing wonderful stories from my friends about their service immersion experiences, I was extremely motivated to apply and see where it would go from there. I had very little knowledge of how this experience would be and I think that is what helped me get so much out of this trip. Before our 13-hour excursion to Montgomery, Alabama, we had three meetings with the group of ten where we most importantly, met one another and established what we were looking forward to. We all got along very well and really had no idea how tight knit our group would be in the long run.
In Montgomery, Alabama, we stayed and volunteered with Resurrection Catholic Church. We all had different types of experiences since some of us served with the senior citizen program, the elementary school, and the parish grounds. I worked with the senior citizen program and the elementary school alternating days and it was so much fun! With the senior citizens, I was able to assist them in cleaning their apartments and also delivering hot cooked meals to them. I really enjoyed visiting these seniors because when they opened the door to greet me, their faces lit up seeing that there was company there just for them. Most of the seniors lived alone and were sick therefore being able to provide a smile for them meant so much. I was overwhelmed by how warm and open these people were since they had never met me before yet they were more than happy to share their story with me and provide me with words of wisdom. I also worked in the elementary school with the preschoolers and kindergarteners, who were adorable as can be! With them, I helped them in learning the numbers and alphabet by singing and playing fun songs and games. This reminded me how education and learning can be so exciting, which made me grateful for the educational opportunities I’ve been granted with to this day.
Every night, our group would come together and reflect and share in what ways our volunteerism impacted or touched us. Because we were all spread out at different service sites, we had many things to share with one another. These reflections alerted me that although all of us are so different, we were there for the same reasons and passions in life, which is to selflessly serve in the betterment of the community and the world.
Now that I am back, four weeks later to be exact, I wouldn’t have spent my spring break any other way. This service immersion experience was more than anything I would have expected. The community I worked with in Montgomery and the peers from DePaul that were on the same journey, all changed and impacted my life for the better. Every single person I interacted and encountered with taught me life lessons and things about myself that I never thought of. I always knew that I enjoyed volunteering and volunteering my time to help others but this immersion motivated and even inspired me to turn it into a passionate career path. Not only did I come back to school with a new perspective on the world, myself, and my career aspirations, but also a new family within my fellow Vincentians in Action!
My advice to those who even to the slightest chance are considering on applying on a future UMIN service immersion trip, do it. As you all have witnessed these last three weeks through the reflections of Jorge, Nicole, and I, it is an experience like none other and that was only our first trip! The winter break 2013 service immersion applications are being accepted until May 8th. More information can be found here. If you would like someone to talk this over with, those at UMIN and even the three of us at OSI are more than willing to speak with you!