These are just some of the words that students used to describe their experience on a Quest trip last March. Four different teams of students visited different U.S. cities last spring break to learn from, listen to and serve alongside ministries and organizations in New Orleans, Washington D.C., Aliquippa and Pittsburgh.
Each trip is coordinated by the Center for Faith and Practice (CFP) with the hope to create long-term relationships with each of the places where students are sent. At least one staff advisor attends each of the trips. These advisors arrange the details of the trip and help students make connections to the places they are serving. They also guide the participants in processing their experience by reflecting together and thinking through big questions and complex issues as a team. The small teams grow together in significant ways. One student who attended the New Orleans trip last year observed that "when one group can come together for a common purpose and put differences aside, it's amazing what we can learn, not only from the environment that we are in, but also from the people we are with. God really does have such a hand in putting together great groups."
The vision for Quest trips is to provide a space for students to explore and interact with the ideas of justice and mercy, community development, beauty and creativity, civic responsibility, and advocacy for others. They are designed for students to begin to connect the Christian worldview they learn in the classroom to faithful reflection, response and action. When asked how her faith was impacted by her trip to Pittsburgh, another student said, "This trip really was a humbling experience. It taught me to think outside of myself and to take on the attitude of Christ talked about in Philippians 2:11."
The trips are a powerful way to help solidify some of the things that students are talking about in their classes here at Geneva College. It pushes them to think critically about what it looks like to understand the Gospel and its implications in transforming society around us. Students begin to see what this looks like as they work alongside people who are seeking to bring about hope and change in places because of their call to love mercy, act justly and walk humbly.
Next spring, there will be six opportunities for students with Quest. Applications and descriptions of each of the trips are listed online at www.geneva.edu/quest. Teams will be returning to Aliquippa, Washington D.C. and New Orleans. New trips this year include New York City; Three Rivers, Michigan; and Quito, Ecuador. Applications for the domestic trips are due Wednesday, December 7.