Students break out of “UD bubble” through service trips abroad
University of Dayton students traveled to Belize and Nicaragua over Christmas break as part of service breakout trips. Students provided medical assistance for those in need and played with local children. (Courtesy of Nick Michel)
By: Allyson Mitchell – Staff Writer
Some University of Dayton students promoted global community and spent a portion of their winter break volunteering abroad through breakout trips offered by the University.
Breakout trips are aimed to broaden a students perspective and allow them to be involved with services like rehabilitating low-income housing, tutoring local children, working in food pantries and other opportunities, according to their website.
“A ‘breakout’ trip is a trip that lets you breakout of your everyday life and experience a life of somebody else that is completely different than yours,” said Nick Michel, a senior communication major.
Michel participated in a breakout trip to Belize, where he worked in a children’s home for a week.
“I went to Belize because I was trying to find a way to get more in touch with service and do something more with my college experience. I wanted to do something a little different, so I thought this would be a really good way to make an impact on other people’s lives and hopefully be able to impact my own through this experience,” Michel explained.
Michel and 13 other students from UD lived and worked in a children’s home, where they helped take care of the grounds
surrounding the home until the children returned from school, he said.
“They had a playground and a swing set and everything so we played with them, helped them with their homework, and just got to be a little kid again with them,” Michel said.
He said he was worried at first that the kids wouldn’t open up, but the exact opposite happened.
“Every day was just a little different,” he said. “The best times were when we were spending time with the kids and getting to know them on a more personal level. One day I was asking a kid if he had any siblings there with him, and he said, ‘No, I don’t have any, but you’re my brother,’ so it was really nice for him to say something like that. It really made me feel connected and made me feel like I was there for a reason and my presence there was beneficial.”
Everyone experienced a lot of culture shock, Michel said.
“We really do live in a global community and there are people out there who live completely different lives than us. It was a nice way to really see and understand a little better what we have here in the U.S. is not generally what everybody else has. It was a nice way to experience something different,” Michel explained.
Senior biology major Aubry Colosimo went to Nicaragua for her breakout trip to give free medical help to people who needed it. The goal of the trip was a “triage” of pharmacy, consultation and dental services, she said.
“We tried to do some fundraising to buy medicine to bring down to Nicaragua. Miami Valley Hospital also donated supplies for us,” Colosimo said.
Colosimo and more than 40 other students from UD joined with students from University of Notre Dame, [University of
Milwaukee?] Milwaukee and other colleges to provide medical care, she said.
“There were a lot of memorable moments. Because medical accessibility there is very poor, watching the kids get excited to see the dentist was definitely something different,” Colosimo said. “In the U.S. people hate going to the dentist, but this was a luxury to them.”
Another memorable experience was giving peanut butter to a family for the first time, Colosimo added.
“We were making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and asked if this family wanted some. It really made me think about how different our lives were, and how much we in the U.S. take for granted,” Colosimo said.
Colosimo said she is interested in sustainability and promoting education. She plans to enter an accelerated nursing program and then join the Peace Corps to travel the world and help those who need it, Colosimo added.
“Trips like these really help broadening the horizons beyond UD’s bubble,” Colosimo stated. “Even though it’s small, it’s still helping. I want to go back, not just put a bandage on it.”