Serving with a smile: Bears pack their bags for spring break mission trips around the world

Baylor students often serve on mission trips during spring break and devote their time to others. Photo Courtesy of Bailey Hebert

By Piper Rutherford | Staff Writer

Students who are signed up for Baylor Missions’ spring break trips will be opting out of a beach vacation this year, traveling instead to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Amsterdam, Madrid and Japan.

Bailey Hebert, senior program coordinator for Baylor Missions, said what makes these spring break trips special is that each one was designed with a particular academic focus in mind.

“Our trips to the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica are both medically based for pre-health organization students, while Amsterdam and Madrid are accounting-based,” Hebert said. “One of our newest additions is the trip to Japan, where students have the opportunity to learn about food insecurity and how the Japanese government serves students and children in Japan facing poverty.”

Beyond academic studies, Hebert said students will have the chance to apply what they have learned in the classroom, immersing themselves in local culture and vocational practices.

“For instance, in the Dominican Republic, we have partnered with One More Child, where Baylor students will teach about topics concerning health and hygiene to the young children there,” Hebert said. “What will enhance this experience is that our students will also be shadowing a doctor from the Dominican Republic, where they will learn more about the health care system, whether that be through medicine or home visits.”

Although Hebert will not be going on one of the spring break missions this year, she said she looks forward to receiving feedback on the newer programs.

“There is one nonprofit in Madrid we are lucky to work with, whose mission is to end sex trafficking in the city,” Hebert said. “So our students’ role in helping this start-up is setting up business features for their company, as well as walking them through tax processing so that their grand opening is a little easier.”

Sarah Nelson, assistant director for global missions operations, said she is attending the Costa Rica trip and serving as one of its leaders.

“During this trip, we will be interacting with Costa Rican high school students and working on improving their conversational English,” Nelson said. “This is important since tourism is such a major part of the economy in Costa Rica, so I feel grateful to get to experience this trip.”

Although one week does not seem like much time to get familiar with a new country, Hebert said it does allow students to form closer bonds with one another.

“Last year, I went to the Dominican Republic medical trip, and it was such a cool opportunity for students planning to be doctors or those who want to go to medical school,” Hebert said. “Even though I … am not medically inclined, it was still so amazing to see Baylor students helping local doctors and seeing them in their element.”

Nelson said she appreciates the spring break missions since she not only gets to serve around the country and the world but also gets to spread love with Baylor students.

“These trips are a getaway, including going over to neighboring states like Louisiana, where I have gotten to help with cleanup after Hurricane Ida and begin the rebuilding process as a part of a disaster relief group,” Nelson said. “Missions is all about how we, those from Baylor, can make a difference elsewhere.”