Where’d you go for spring break?

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Many Saint Louis University students traveled to all the spring break hot spots last week. But, several SLU students traveled across the country and internationally to do service work for the less fortunate.

Mary Ellenfeldt is a freshman who traveled to Kermit, W.V., with a group from SLU, where they worked at a daycare center and helped to remodel the house of Ida and Lovis Brewer. They also went to a local preschool in Mingo County and acted out Dr. Seuss’ classic story The Cat in the Hat.

“Ida and Lovis were the couple that we worked with,” Ellenfeldt said, “They both grew up in Kermit and have one son and two grandchildren. Lovis’ family was exceedingly poor growing up; four of his siblings died of starvation and malnutrition.”

On this trip, the group also learned that coal mining companies have a lot of power and that their practices are harmful to the entire area. For Ellenfeldt, this was an eye-opening experience.

“I was surprised at how little I know about all of it,” she said, “because the company owners have such an influence that much of the country does not know about what goes on there.”

Throughout the trip, Ellenfeldt was inspired by Ida Brewer’s good nature.

“It was amazing when Ida would walk into a room we were working and she would compliment our work,” she said. “She was so happy to have someone help her with a task that she could not do by herself.”

Another important experience was the camaraderie that the group shared. This trip allowed the students to become friends and share many stories.

Mindi Bergman, a freshman, traveled to Cuatro Ciengas and Ocampo, Mexico. This trip was different from Ellenfeldt’s trip in that it was more of an immersing trip to see how people live in these small towns.

“We would go with Padre Gerardo to the ejido [small towns in the middle of nowhere],” Bergman said. “We’d go around and tell everyone that the padre is in town and he’ll be saying Mass.”

The group went from door to door in the town spreading the message. In doing this, Bergman met many little kids. The kids had a very stereotypical view of Americans and the group was able to change their view.

“They would ask all these different questions,” Bergman said, “like, ‘Is your house big?’ and how many people live with the students at home. These questions were very insightful for me because they make me think about my own life.” Bergman also said she has gained a new perspective on members of the clergy.

“I have a new view of the clergy,” Bergman said, “They’re so cool. Their faith is what sustains them.”
Through their non-traditional spring break trips, these two girls gained a greater appreciation for what they have.

“I find I realize my purpose when I am doing things not for myself, but for someone else,” Ellenfeldt said.
“It made me step out of my comfort zone,” Bergman said, “to look at the world with new eyes.”