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​The 2012 NOLA Immersion group from PC.

​Students to Serve Communities over Winter Break

Students from Providence College will immerse themselves in issues of urban poverty through service projects over the winter break.

For the fourth year in a row, PC will join the “Urban Plunge” initiative from January 8 to 12 at My Brother’s Keeper, a non-profit organization in Easton, Mass., that delivers food and furniture to families in need.

Urban Plunges are offered by the University of Notre Dame in cities across the country, and the five PC students will be joined by counterparts from Notre Dame and Stonehill College.

Tram Nguyen ’16 (Hanoi, Vietnam) decided to join the program because she had volunteered in her home country and wanted to learn more about poverty in the United States, a developed nation.

“I feel some kind of responsibility to community, to contribute to community,” she said.

Nguyen, who plans to major in economics and math, is particularly interested in sustainability, she said. “I find a relationship between my [economics] major and community service,” she said.

In addition to Urban Plunge, 14 PC students will travel to New Orleans from January 12-19 for the annual NOLA Immersion through the College’s Campus Ministry. There, the students will gain a better understanding of issues impacting the region after Hurricane Katrina by working with four service organizations to perform a range of activities, including installing energy-efficient light bulbs in homes, working with homeless men at a shelter, and building homes.

Students also will meet with members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps working in New Orleans as well as a Providence College alumnus, Leonard N. Alsfeld ’74, an area resident who traditionally hosts the group.

In addition to the service, both Urban Plunge and the NOLA Immersion incorporate daily prayer and reflection to allow students to further examine the examples of poverty and injustice they witness. Urban Plunge participants start each day with Mass and write a final reflection paper about the experience.

NOLA students begin preparing for the trip in the fall semester with a retreat as well as fundraising. After students return to campus, they continue to reflect on the experience throughout the spring semester to try to promote social change on campus.

“There’s many ways to God, but service and reflecting on service is a great way to see the face of god in those they serve,” said Sarah Attwood, campus minister.

 

— Liz F. Kay

 
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