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Education Faculty and Students Participate in Service Trip

Posted by Byrne on 2017 April 23

Student participant of Team Jamaica getting to know one of the Jamaican residents

One of the most humbling and honorable programs offered at Marywood University through Campus Ministry is the opportunity for students and faculty members to participate in Service Trips around the country and even the world.

Last month, Patricia Arter, Ed.D., Professor of Special Education and Director of the Students On-Campus Achieving Results (SOAR) Program, Dr. Chris Fryer, Education Department Chairperson, and students Brooke Ackerman, Ashley Akers, Jennifer Amend, Anna Boginski, Allison Fruehan, Rachel Kester, Brittany Lippert, Briana Luppino, Carly Moore, Kelcie Spreng, and Kayla Sweet participated in an Alternative Spring Break Service Trip to Jamaica.

Drs. Arter and Fryer, and students spent one week at a Mustard Seed Community in Jamaica, Blessed Assurance, where they served residents with disabilities. These residents ranged from ages 7 to 30, all of whom were abandoned by their parents. All are wards of the state and are in need of care from the community. The Marywood University Service Trip Group offered assistance with feeding, walking, singing, circle time, and educational services. The participants engaged in fun and educational activities, like teaching writing skills using shaving cream or reviewing shapes and colors using flashcards. They also dedicated time to have simple yet genuine interactions with each of the residents.

International facilities like the one that the team attended are often underfunded and understaffed. Therefore, the help offered by the Marywood community made the Jamaican staff members grateful and appreciative of their assistance. The staff members were believed to be “very passionate in providing basic needs and care for the residents,” inspiring the service trip participants to share that same passion and care when interacting with the residents.

Although the Jamaican staff members were thankful for the Marywood student and faculty aid, it was the team who was appreciative for the experience. Dr. Arter stated, “I think we all came away knowing we are so blessed in the United States.” Dr. Chris Fryer, Chairperson of the Education Department, emphasized, “this experience has taught me to be more grateful,…compassionate, patient, and flexible. It was a life-changing experience that I will never forget.”

By the end of the trip it was known that “most of the residents had multiple, severe disabilities [and] very few were verbal or mobile”, Dr. Arter shared. However, instead of focusing on their disabilities, the service trip participants centered their attention on the numerous abilities and skills of the residents. “By the end of the week, we were able to know how to communicate with each resident – we were able to tell what made them happy.”

The members of Team Jamaica are eternally grateful for the opportunity to get to know the residents and staff members of Blessed Assurance. Providing service to the community and giving back to those in need represent one of the most cherished core values honored by Marywood University: the core value of service. All of the team members are now seen as role models for emphasizing the beloved core value of service.

Topics: Education SOAR

Posted by Erin Byrne

Erin Byrne, who is pursuing a master's degree in speech language pathology at Marywood, is a graduate assistant in the Reap College of Education and Human Development.

Read more from Erin Byrne