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Christian Appalachian Project Spring Break Service Trip | Valparaiso University


At Valpo, our spring break service trips are known for providing students with unforgettable experiences that connect them to their communities, help them understand the world around them through the lens of servitude and grace, and allow them to discover themselves in new environments. We collected student reflections from the Christian Appalachian Project service trip, and learned what servant leadership can look like for Valpo students. 

Abby Manak '25 & Ashley Velasquez '25

Humanity is a beautiful attribute that shapes the ways people are connected and vulnerable. Humanity is a synonym to benevolence, meaning the quality of being well-     meaning; kindness. Embracing humanity       all the flaws, experiences, and strengths       adds to the kindness of every interaction we have with others. Kindness adds to the revival that Christ displays on this world. Christ calls each of us to be kind and compassionate. Ephesians 4:32 states, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Kindness means forgiving the mistakes our humanity might lead us into. Humanity is beautiful as it shows us the balance of love we share with one another.

 On our service trip, through the Christian Appalachian Project, we were able to see small, beautiful moments of humanity. On our worksite, we had the pleasure of working alongside the participants/homeowners Ray and Regina. Although they were gone for the last two days of our roof work, we had special moments with them on the first two days. Being able to catch      a glimpse of the couple’s growth in      McKee County was an amazing experience. We were able to hear the roots of their home lives and growth together.

 A very meaningful experience was when we were able to pray over Ray’s surgery, which was on the second work day. We were able to link arms and pray God’s peace, grace, and love over him as he left. This was especially touching because we thought we saw him for the last time when we left on Monday, but that next morning, he joined us outside and excitedly called us over. Despite knowing little about us, Ray willingly opened up about his worries and put his trust in us and God to overcome his fears.

 Not only this, but the humanity shown within our work crew at the site was like no other. People we barely knew showed us never-ending love, support, and kindness, even though half the time we had no idea what we were doing and constantly made mistakes. This also allowed us to work cohesively and efficiently, with the help of our leaders and Coco the cat! It is important to welcome the humanity of others into your life, as it will greatly influence how you perceive the world. 


Natalya Reister '25

One of the most beautiful things that makes us human is our capacity to care for others. On our trip, we had many opportunities to serve, but it was in a moment of role reversal that humanity was truly displayed.

 We had been working on tearing off old shingles on a family’s roof all morning. As we drew near to our lunch break, one of the home     owners asked to speak with someone. A team member went down to make sure everything was okay. We continued working, but were soon informed that the homeowners had prepared a lunch for us and were inviting us into their home to share the meal with them.

 As we sat around their table sharing stories, Christ’s love was on clear display. We had arrived at the site ready to serve, yet there we were sitting around a table being served. Not only did we get invited into their home, but they welcomed us into their lives by opening up in conversation. Often when we serve others, we find ourselves being blessed just as much, if not more, than we expected. This is the beauty of humanity. Our humanity empowers us to love others well with whatever we have. Additionally, our humanity helps us to recognize the gifts we are being presented with and to accept them with a grateful heart. 


Jillian Seeger '24

When I think of the word humanity, I think of brotherly love. Brotherly love can be described as the love that we share with those around us, specifically in our proximity; our peers, neighbors, acquaintances, classmates, leaders, and homeowners in the context of our spring break service trip. As we headed to Eastern Kentucky, I was nervous because even though I knew everyone on the trip, I only really shared my humanity with some of them. I knew some people from classes in the past or had seen them at Celebrate, but I only shared my surface-level humanity with them at first.

 Throughout this trip, I grew so close to everyone. I learned about Ryan Cole’s humor, I learned about Luke and Abby’s faith journeys, Ashley and Forrest’s hardships, the things that scare Jovanis, James, Esther, and Natalya, and I got to grow closer to Pastor Kate. At the end of the trip, I realized that there’s more to humanity than just what makes us human and being kind to each other. I learned about our homeowners, Wanda and Wayne, and how they came to be as a couple  as a family, and as believers in Christ.

 I could’ve gone on this trip and told you that all I did was work on a roof. However, that’s not what I got out of this trip. I had the opportunity to dig deeper into what makes everyone around me more human. Our individuality makes us human; I’m forever grateful that I had the chance to share my individuality and humanity on this trip, and hopefully, it impacted those around me. I truly believe that our own humanity is what will end up changing the world we live in today.






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