For spring break, most students hope to find themselves on the beach soaking up the sun. This spring break, Jenny decided to do something different and go on a VISION trip. VISION is a service and cultural immersion program at St. Thomas with the goal of being the change we need in the world. For this trip, Jenny went to White Rose Farm in Missouri, which is a community of small family owned farms focused on sustainable living.
Everyone on the trip stayed with a host family consisting of a mother, father, and a 2 year old daughter named Johanna. During the day they took care of different jobs on the farm, like cooking, planting, or watching after Johanna. The weather played a role in what they did for the day, as planting is weather dependent. Jenny enjoys cooking, so that was her main focus during the trip. Since the family only ate food that they provided themselves, this created a challenge when cooking. The family didn’t have any livestock so they didn’t eat meat, but they had a lot of different vegetables available for use. Every day the students would eat two meals, “brunch” and “linner,” as well as snacks throughout the day. While they kept themselves busy enough not to really notice the hunger, Jenny does admit by the end of the day they were pretty famished.
Jenny, being the only international student, had a different experience than the other students. Here in America, we see the self-reliance of sustainable living as the future of taking care of our planet. In fact, people from all over the country have been moving to sustainable living communities like White Rose Farm to reduce their carbon footprint. But back home in China, this kind of living signifies poverty. Jenny says she was reminded of her grandmother’s home when she was on the farm, and that shaped her view of the trip in ways it couldn’t for her classmates. Even so, she gained a greater appreciation of natural beauty.
Jenny recommends VISION trips to any student, international or domestic. She says that they are a great experience that offer a chance to grow in spirituality while doing service for others. For more information about VISION trips or to sign up for the next round of trips in January, visit http://www.stthomas.edu/serviceandsocialjustice/serviceprograms/vision/.