The REAL Dayton: Becoming Part of Dayton

By: Tom Tappel – Staff Writer

Info: The REAL Dayton is an off-campus experience over Fall Break that combines service, reflection, encounters with our neighbors in Dayton, visits to cultural centers, and education about the gifts and challenges of our city.


In short, the REAL Dayton Fall Breakout was about discovery. Discovering new concepts and avenues of service, discovering the hidden gems of the city I’d been living in since freshman year, and discovering new friends to discuss and explore Dayton after it was over. But most of all, it was about discovering the potential I have, and every student has, to become a part of the community I live in.

Growing up in the suburbs, my family had little engagement outside our circle of friends. Sure, we waved to our neighbors and occasionally ate at a local restaurant, but we were, for the most part, engaged within the walls of our house. The service we did was always far away, disconnected from my town. We’d go to soup kitchens in lower income neighborhoods or we’d donate clothes to a truck destined for who knows where. I’m not complaining about my neighborhood or my childhood, it was fun and it was safe, but I feel now as a young adult, I am called to more.

At the beginning of the REAL Dayton, all of us listened to a speech given by a Jesuit priest, who is the director of Homeboy Industries in L.A. Anyone who has read about the Jesuits knows that one of their mission statements is to be “men for others”. However, Fr. Greg Boyle, or “G” as the ‘homeboys’ call him, argues that beyond just being “men for others” we are called rather to be “men with others”. This became our charge throughout the break. We strived to become part of the community of Dayton, not just part of the community of UD, to destroy the barriers between “us” and “them” to become just “us.”

All of this couldn’t be accomplished in a short break. However, the experience of serving with the people of the city of Dayton, exploring the culture and the people that make Dayton unique planted seeds that have continued to inform the way I view the city I live in.

The REAL Dayton is an opportunity to use your fall break to learn something beyond the classroom, something that has the potential to impact your life after UD more than any one class. So come, reach out, encounter Dayton, act with others, and lead together.

The REAL Dayton retreat runs from Oct. 5th – Oct. 8th. Make sure to register before Sept. 21 here.

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