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A spring break recap: Giving back is the new black

By: Liz McGovern

Though students like to relax and unwind on spring break, they enjoy the opportunity to give back even more. Service trips have become an increasingly popular Marquette spring break alternative, and this year more than 300 students spent their vacations volunteering at sites around the country through the Marquette Action Program.

When M.A.P. was founded in 1976, the organization sent small groups to service sites in the Appalachian Mountains to learn about rural poverty, but it has since expanded. According to Campus Ministry's website, M.A.P. works with more locations that alleviate urban poverty, improve sustainability, promote education and assist with natural disaster relief.

Megan Andereason, a sophomore in the College of Nursing, went to Detroit with M.A.P. and stayed at the Catholic Worker House, a women's shelter. She says the experience helped her see beyond the "Detroit stereotypes" and that she considers the city resilient and compassionate.

"It's a very rare opportunity to be able immerse yourself in a different community," Andereason says. "Going to a new place opens your eyes and helps you see your own city in a new way."

Last year, Andereason traveled to Port Ministries in Chicago, which was a new M.A.P. location. Ann Mulgrew, an assistant director in Campus Ministry and director of M.A.P., says establishing new sites is essential to the program.

"M.A.P. changes every year, and we keep getting new sites," she says. "It's not just about building long-term relationships but being an advocate for what's happening in our country and responding to tragedy."

Making a Real Difference in the Gulf Region and Areas Surrounding, or MARDI GRAS, another popular service trip organization, also builds long-term relationships. The group was formed to help restore communities damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and focuses on rebuilding homes and businesses. Even though the hurricane hit almost nine years ago, Ed Quattrocchi, a senior in the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication, says rebuilding is nowhere close to completion.

"Natural disasters have a lot longer lasting impact than people realize. After media outlets stop reporting, people start to forget," he says.

Marquette students will never forget the hurricane's impact. MARDI GRAS President Jac Cupkovic, a senior in the College of Business Administration, fell in love with the organization on his first trip freshman year. Since then, he has gone on 12. He says the best part of the participating in the organization has been the relationships he has established with the homeowners after working with many of them for several years.


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