Alexis Wyman-LaBelle  Staff Reporter


Students Jessica Doyon and Katie Franke working at the bake sale to earn money for the Puerto Rico trip in March. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Wyman-Labelle)

   The Intervarsity fellowship is preparing to go to Puerto Rico to help rebuild after the destruction after Hurricane Maria. The hurricane left the island without power and with an estimate over $8 million in damage.

   Intervarsity is a Christian fellowship on campus that partnered with ServeUp, a national organization that sets up missions trips, to make this trip happen. 20 students plan on attending this trip to Puerto Rico during spring break. Each of the attendees needs approximately $800 to attend. The plane tickets have been purchased by Intervarsity already so the students are hard at work trying to make enough money.

   Emily Murphy, a junior, is a participant who’s been actively involved with planning the trip is excited to attend. Murphy has been taking trips like these since her Freshman year, when a trip to New Orleans was offered.

   The goals of the trips taken are often to rebuild communities that have been destroyed by natural disasters. Intervarsity has never traveled to Puerto Rico before. Prior to this, they’ve traveled to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  Murphy says these trips are the best weeks of her life.

   “Doing something meaningful for other people,” Murphy exclaimed, “is a great way to spend spring break.”

   The trip is currently being funded by the students who are participating. Funding opportunities such as a bake sale and bottle drive have been executed. The members and participants of the trip have also discussed holding a community dinner to help with the overall cost.

   Another attendee, Jessica Doyon, a junior, is an Intervarsity member who is attending the trip, thinks this will be a meaningful experience. “The goal is to take what we hear from the news and experience it ourselves,” Doyon said. Doyon is also excited about meeting new people, and forming new relationships with other students.
   Doyon is an education major who is currently focusing on age groups birth to 5-years-old and kindergarten to third grade.

   “This trip will be a  great way to connect,” Doyon said. “It’s a great way for people you see everyday to get closer with them. I can’t wait to spend my time helping people.”

   During the week the students are down there, the opportunity to interact with the community is available to them. They are able to play with the local children which will be especially fun for Doyon and Shaoning Gu.
   Shaoning Gu, an exchange student from Shijiazhuang, China is also attending the trip.

   “I know there are many homeless people there, I am hoping to build houses and play with the kids,” Gu said in an online interview. Gu is hoping to bring awareness of the people in Puerto Rico who need prayers and care to UMF. Gu is hoping by going on this trip, she’ll make friends and understand Christianity.

   The goal of the trip is to take what the students have heard in the news about the devastating hurricane and bring the experience back to Farmington, and how they can use it to benefit themselves and others. Students will learn about the different community style in Puerto Rico and how it differs from the United States.