One of the greatest attributes of Manhattan’s L.O.V.E. program is that it allows students to choose their experience by offering various types of outreach based on the destination.
The Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.) program has a presence on campus. It promotes social justice by sponsoring student trips around the world that combine the Lasallian mission of service with the core beliefs of promoting self-growth through experience. The expectations for the spring semester of 2011 were no different, with five trips planned, four of which occurred over the winter intercession. With an increasing level of interest among students, the program has embarked on another year of valued service-learning excursions for the student community.
One of the greatest attributes of Manhattan’s L.O.V.E. program is that it allows students to choose their experience by offering various types of outreach based on the destination. In January, students traveled to Kenya, Ecuador, New Orleans and West Virginia to give back to the world based on their preferences.
A popular trip among students, L.O.V.E.’s visit to Kenya included multiple immersion experiences, such as going to an orphanage, the Nyumbani Children’s Home and the Child Discovery Centre, for four days, as well as a clinic in the Nazareth Hospital. To enhance their reflective experience, students took a trip to Kiberia, the largest African slum to date. Such excursions conveyed to the students the struggles that the Kenyan people face every day and gave them a new sense of appreciation for what they have back home.
“Even though we read and hear about the extreme poverty and social injustices that nations such as Kenya endure, by immersing ourselves into their society, we were able to have an all-encompassing experience that incorporated varying levels of the socioeconomic standards by which people live,” says Christopher Shemanski ’11.
The two-week immersion trip to Ecuador had similar goals, with students gaining a new understanding for the simple lifestyle that many in the world endure. Students stayed in the impoverished community of Arbolito, where they interacted with the local community, particularly in an after-school program for the children. The Jaspers had similar experiences in the final immersion trip of the semester to the Dominican Republic during spring break.
“The thing that struck me the most about this trip was that, even though the people were so poor by our country’s standards, they were the richest people I have ever met,” says Brittany Lee Ellis ’11, who went to Ecuador. “They may not have had much money or material possessions, but they had more compassion, respect and dignity than anyone else I have ever met.”
The L.O.V.E. program also includes opportunities to serve within the United States and annually offers student favorites — trips to New Orleans and West Virginia. L.O.V.E. traveled to New Orleans for the fifth year in a row and continues to commit to the city by assisting with overcoming Hurricane Katrina’s devastating aftermath. The trip to West Virginia helped students understand the cycle of poverty by sending them to a farm where they were put to work without any technological or modern machinery assisting them.
“Being part of the Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience was a life-changing experience,” says Erin LeRoy ’11. “I was able to travel with a group of my peers, to New Orleans, Louisiana in order to give aid through service and labor. I learned skills and finished projects that I never dreamed that I would be doing.”
The L.O.V.E. program’s funding stems solely from the fundraising efforts of the students throughout the year and donations made by members of the College community. As a Lasallian institution, the Manhattan community is always willing to help the program thrive, which benefits the students’ education in ways that activities in a classroom are incapable of doing.
*Article from the spring edition of the Manhattan magazine.