The Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning (VPSL) at Sacred Heart University offers global service trips during spring break as well as the May intersession periods.
“These programs are designed for students to practice cultural competency, be in solidarity with their community partners and develop an understanding of their role as global citizens,” said the Assistant Director of VPSL, Anne Wendel.
Over this past spring break at Sacred Heart, which took place from March 1-8, a group of SHU students and faculty traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, while another group went to Guatemala.
In San Juan, the SHU students and faculty members worked to help rebuild homes that were affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The group was split into two to help two different families rebuild their homes. One group worked at the home of a 55-year-old man named Jose who got trapped in his home during the hurricane and tragically had to get his leg amputated due to the injuries he sustained and could not work on his home by himself.
“Jose really made me realize that I should be more than grateful for the things and people in my life,” said sophomore Dayna Pendino, who was a student leader for this trip.
In Guatemala, the students lived in the Finca Florencia Community where they got to meet some of the families who lived there, eat local food, learn about the history of the Mayan culture, and help rebuild a bathroom at the school, among many other things.
Sophomore Olivia Chaponis was on this trip and said, “Happiness is found in the friends and family we have and the experiences that we may take for granted. The children and families that I have met along with the students and faculty I went on the trip with will always hold a special place in my life.”
“Our global service-learning programs are key ways in which we live out our identity as a Catholic institution in tradition and spirit,” said Wendel.
According to the VPSL website, “domestic and international immersion programs provide powerful cultural exchange opportunities, as well as significant personal growth and reflection.”
“I love that SHU has brought me closer not only with the Bridgeport community, but with communities abroad as well,” said Pendino.
Applications will open in September for the 2021 trips and more information can be found on the VPSL web page under “International Service Programs.”