AU students spend spring break helping others

As students enjoyed the week off for spring break, two on-campus organizations took the opportunity to spend time helping those in need outside their community. The Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action and the men’s soccer program both lead trips to participate in city-wide and international service projects.

Jonathan Dean, University Chaplain, and Kris Johnson, Wackerlin Fellow, lead six AU students on a one-day trip to Night Ministry and Care for Real Food Pantry in Chicago, Ill. Night Ministry is a homeless youth shelter and Care for Real Food Pantry serves those in need in the Edgewater neighborhood. While there, the students were able to serve food to the Chicago area homeless population.

Dean believes this trip was beneficial to students as it offered them a unique insight into a large urban area project, and helped them better understand the reasons and solutions for national poverty. “We hope students will grow as individuals through community service like this,” says Dean, “and form compassionate outlooks that they can carry forward after graduation and into their lives as citizens.”

For Johnson, providing students with these service opportunities is a great way for students to gain a new perspective on what matters. “Taking part in service projects is a fantastic community building experience for the students,” says Johnson. “They leave more connected to one another and also more connected to humanity.”

While several students ventured to Chicago to lend a helping hand, another AU organization traveled to Costa Rica for the trip of a lifetime. During the week of spring break, the Aurora University men’s soccer program took an eight-day international trip where they experienced competition, community service and a new culture.

“This trip served as an incredible opportunity for our AU men’s soccer players to volunteer in community service projects around the world, and provided a true liberal-arts experience through athletics, service and travel,” explains Head Coach Amir St. Clair.

While in Costa Rica, the Spartans competed against three international professional teams and immersed themselves in the Costa Rican culture through whitewater rafting, zip lining and hiking. They also spent their time volunteering at a local orphanage to help serve the children in a number of different roles.

“As soon as we arrived to the orphanage, the children were yelling and jumping at the chance to play,” said Nick Rizzo, Graduate Assistant for the men’s soccer team. “The smiles and laughter coming from both the children and our players made for one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. This trip was a trip that will forever remain with the Spartan men.”