Approximately 180 Hope College students will be spending their spring break serving others and gaining insights into the needs that they encounter.

Some 15 service and immersion trips have been planned for the college’s spring break, which runs Friday, March 15, through Sunday, March 24. The mix includes trips across the U.S.

More than 150 students will be participating in 14 immersion trips organized by the college’s Campus Ministries Office. In addition, another 27 students will travel with professor of kinesiology Dr. Steven Smith to Jamaica.

In Mobile, Ala., will participate in the daily life of a community of L’Arche ministries, in which adults with developmental disabilities and those without live together and learn from one another.  In East Palo Alto, Calif., students will be working with Bayshore Christian Ministries, a year-round urban-ministry program focused on youth, to explore the ways that race and economics have an impact on access to a quality education.  In Washington, D.C., students will work with The Pilgrimage to understand the impact of incarceration policies in the U.S. and to see how churches, families and communities can work together for justice and mercy.

In Miami, Fla., students will work through DOOR (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection) and consider issues of urban diversity and justice as they interact with a variety of communities and serve with and learn from local organizations such as soup kitchens, immigration lawyers, housing shelters and tutoring programs.  In Orlando, Fla., students will work with Covenant House Florida to see how street outreach, crisis shelters, transitional housing projects, and spiritual and mental health services are helping to address the wounds of youth homelessness.  In Tampa/Immokalee, Fla., students will connect with Beth El Farmworker Ministry and meet with workers in the fields to learn about human trafficking and farm worker justice.

Students remaining in Holland will explore how area churches, other organizations and residents are working in a spirit of restoration and healing to address issues such as poverty, racism, unemployment and at-risk youth.  In Detroit, students will work with Motown Mission to learn about food justice and an urban food renaissance involving intentional communities, urban agriculture, community gardens, public schools and community organizations.

In Staten Island, N.Y., students will address the immediate needs of residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy through the work of Project Hospitality, a long-standing organization that has addressed issues of hunger, poverty, HIV, homelessness and immigration in Staten Island. They’ll worship, learn and reflect about the ways that work has changed in the wake of Sandy, and how the church can be a presence for the long-term as it addresses such immediate needs. 

 In Newark, N.J., students working with North Reformed Church will consider what it means to be evangelists while engaging with ministries that reach out to segments of the urban community in need.

At the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, students will work with Re-Member on a housing rehabilitation and renovation project alongside members of the Lakota community.

In Nashville, Tenn., will learn about housing, access to food and urban ministry through the Center for Student Missions.

In the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, students will connect with Restoring Eden to visit mountaintop-mining removal sites and learn about environmental justice, energy issues, and the experience of local residents whose economy and health are impacted in complex ways by the mining.

Along the Mexico-U.S. border at Agua Prieta, Mexico, and Douglas, Ariz., students will work with Frontera de Cristo to develop a deeper understanding of the economic, political and spiritual connections that people have across borders, and issues related to immigration, economic justice and multicultural ministry.

The group of students with Smith will be working on the school campus of the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It is the 15th year that Smith has led a group of students to the site during spring break.