By Corrie Coleman | Reporter
This spring break, Baylor Missions is sponsoring 14 mission trips. From building music centers in Mexico to teaching nutrition in Guatemala, nearly 200 students will serve in seven countries as well as throughout the United States.
The Hunger in Texas trip will highlight food insecurity through community service in Texas, specifically in communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. Students will learn about the impact of hunger on families while working in Rockport, an area struggling to recover from the hurricane. They will also spend time in Austin, speaking with policy makers about food insecurity in Texas.
Grace Norman, Baylor government relations manager and leader for the Hunger in Texas trip, explained that lower-income families often experience food insecurity after a natural disaster.
“[Hurricane Harvey] was and still continues to be a disaster that affects everyone equally regardless of socioeconomic [level],” Norman said. “Are the impacts disproportionality going to affect families that were previously struggling with food insecurity?”
Norman said food insecurity is important for Baylor students to understand because it affects a large portion of the population, especially in Waco. She said because hunger impacts so many communities, knowing how to address the issue is critical.
“There’s that growing disparity that gap, chasm really, between the haves and have-nots,” Norman said. “How do we meet communities where they are and how do we invest where we live?”
A civil rights tour, another mission trip trip taking place over spring break, will lead students on a tour of major states and landmarks in the civil rights movement such as Selma, Birmingham and Memphis. Students will have the opportunity to walk across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma as well as meet staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Holly Tate, assistant director for missions at Baylor, encourages students to recognize the value of the communities they are visiting.
“It is very unrealistic to think you’re going to change the world in a week,” Tate said. “[So students need] to be open to learning from the communities they go to visit and realize that … different cultures bring a lot of value to the table.”
Tate said she hopes students will return from these trips with a new understanding of their own communities. She said effective mission trips prompt students to serve not only in other countries but also in their own cities and neighborhoods.
“I think it’s engaging for students to be able to do something like this for a week … and then be like, ‘Why can’t I do this the rest of the year?’” Tate said. “I want students to walk away … thinking about what can they do while they’re here in Waco or when they go on to their professional career.”
Tate said the high number of students going on mission trips speaks volumes.
“We’ve got almost 200 people going on spring break trips. That’s a lot of people who are willing to give up their spring break,” Tate said. “It says a lot about our students and what they think is important.”