Marywood students can apply to travel to Nairobi, Kenya for a service learning trip with the Little Sisters of St. Francis, a missionary community, this spring. The African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) is planning the service learning trip with collaboration from Marywood and Chestnut Hill College.
ASEC offered serving learning trips to Africa for Marywood students sporadically since 2008, with the most recent trip happening last year. This year’s trip will be the first time it has been consecutively offered.
Some of the volunteer opportunities offered to students during the 19-day trip include volunteering with at-risk youth, refugees, HIV and AIDS patients, hospital patients, disabled orphans and school children. Trip organizer Sr. Margaret Gannon, IHM, said she believes that these opportunities make the trip unique.
“There’s such a diversity in ways that students are able to serve the people of Nairobi and they are able to participate in real service, not just observation,” she said.
Gannon said she understands that when students travel abroad, the question of safety is always at the forefront of the conversation. She stressed that safety for the students attending the trip is the main priority. Gannon also said she believes that having the students work with the sisters enhances their safety because the sisters are highly respected by the people of Nairobi.
Olivia Alessandri, an ASEC 2017 service learning participant, traveled to Nairobi for last year’s trip. Her role this year will be to serve as a resource for anyone who has questions.
Alessandri’s biggest piece of advice for those going on the trip is to “be open to anything and accepting of everything” and to “say yes to every experience.”
Gannon said this trip has been her greatest experience during her time at Marywood. She added that she feels this trip has had a huge impact on the lives of not only the people of Nairobi, but also the student volunteers.
“I tell every student that they’re going to leave their heart in Africa and they always do,” said Gannon.
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