Why YOU Should Go On A LOVE Trip

The first club/organization I join at Manhattan College was the LOVE program. LOVE stands for Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience. LOVE isn’t your typical service trip where you take pictures for your instagram, or build houses with your friends. It is way deeper than that. LOVE is a social justice immersion trip that focuses mostly on educating participants on the structures and systems that have forced marginalized people to suffer. You get to listen to the people most affected by social injustice. By hearing their stories often times you view the situation differently from what the media, peers, or family might have told you. These types of trips are really important because you get to see a more authentic view of the situation before its manipulated by others opinions. 

My first LOVE trip was to El Paso, Texas. It would be a trip that would shape my life. A couple of fellow Manhattan college students and I traveled to our southern border during the last government shutdown to learn about migration. Immigration is a controversial topic right now. Everyone has different views on it and that is something that ended up helping us on our journey. We worked at a shelter that received migrants from horrible conditions in detention centers. I worked in the showers, where I helped them take their first shower in months. Some of the women had lice and their hair was matted. At detention centers, they were abused by private owned corporations that profited off of their misery. In addition, I helped out in the clothing department. This was the first place they arrived when they were being admitted to the shelter. When they received their clothes it sometimes brought tears to their eyes. One man I encountered held his baby girl through the desert some 80 miles because she didn’t have any shoes and he didn’t want to put her down. I had the honor of giving her first pair of shoes. Her dad was sobbing with gratitude as he relaxed his arms.  When I came back, everything in my life had so much more purpose. Every grade that I received was important because I wanted to be my best. I wanted to take advantage of the privilege I have but also use it to better everyone. I will always be grateful for the opportunity Manhattan College offers to go on trips like these. They help shape students purpose to succeed and make something better for themselves and society as a whole. My name is Alana Pons and I am part of the Lasallian Family.

My next role with the LOVE program is not as a participant, but as a leader. I will be leading LOVE New Orleans. This trip is focused on the many social justice issues including: racial inequality, economic inequality and economic sustainability. New Orleans is famous for being the stomping ground of Hurricane Katrina. Although this storm was 10 years ago, people are still suffering and homeless. The trip is all about learning about the racial divide even before the storm and how Katrina only acted as a catalyst to the racism in New Orleans.