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Smith ServeUP 2017 Update

by Daisy Paez '18 and Dayana Bulchand '18

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nineteen Smith students along with about 65 from the Five Colleges, journeyed down to New Orleans this Spring Break with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to spend a week serving the city and discussing the intersection of faith and social justice, while getting to know locals all over the city. Two students, Daisy Paez and Dayana Bulchand, were among the Smith Team that went on the trip. Both Daisy and Dayana had the opportunity to experience New Orleans culture but for Dayana, this was the second time coming on the ServeUp trip. Because of this, she was able to expand on her past experience and discovered new knowledge that came with conversations pertaining to faith and social justice. She had the opportunity to work on sites, which included painting a church and even visited the park she worked on the first time she came to do service work. Dayana believes that her experience and conversations on this trip were one of the most eye-opening experiences of her life. She feels humbled and touched by the people she befriended, who wished for nothing more than to share their happiness and stories.

Similarly for Daisy, she worked on multiple projects throughout the week with her team which included painting a house the first two days and assisting Dayana's team along the way. She was able to experience religion in ways that she never had before. Daisy recalls her most important lesson: "I got to study Bible verses for the first time and got to learn a new and more vulnerable side to Jesus' character. I was always taught that he was perfect and I thought that meant he didn't get angry, but I got to read about his vulnerabilities that were expressed through his anger when witnessing others that had been taken advantage of." Through work in the lower and upper 9th Wards of the city, we encountered the realities of Hurricane Katrina and witnessed the damage that still remains even after more than 10 years. We confronted impending issues of racism, corruption and lack of care for every part of the city through the lens of Christian scripture where students of all faiths were brought together to discuss their perspectives. It was a life-changing and enriching experience for all. We are grateful for the partnership of the Smith College Center for Religious and Spiritual Life in helping make this trip possible!

2017 Smith Attendees:

Dayana Bulchand '18
Daisy Paez '18
Jessica O'Connell '18
Abigael Stephens '18
Daniela Deny '18
Karla Pena '19
Thao Phan '19J
Michelle Chen '19
Molly Day '19
Lacey Harvey '19
Dominica Cao '19
Alejandra Cervantes-Ramos '19
Jennifer Moran '19
Angelica Luna '19
Anathiel John-Charles '20
Kathie Li '20
Bri Jefferson '20
Ann Mudanye '20
Whitney Mutalemwa '20