Editorials

The Rewards of SERVE

The SERVE program has allowed me to visit places I thought I would never see and it has allowed me to meet individuals I thought I would never meet. I have become extremely close to other trip participants and the faculty members. This is what happens when you spend a week together, day and night. The SERVE program is an amazing program and unlike any other.

It provides an opportunity to really immerse yourself in a new culture in a way one would never expect. Because of this, I chose to lead a SERVE trip last Spring.

Many of us have heard of the SERVE program, but not many of us have actually considered how it operates. The SERVE Program has a variety of different approaches and steps to take in order to make it a successful trip. I led a trip to Ecuador in the Spring of 2013. My preparation was a bit different because it was an international project, so it involved a little bit more paperwork.

First off, you have to plan the whole trip on your own. You have to decide where you want to volunteer, how you will get there, the budget, how many participants you want to take and who your faculty advisor(s) will be. This is just the start.

Once this is established, you have to actually apply to be a trip leader. This application contains a variety of different questions including: what makes you a good trip leader, what your leadership experience has been, where you want to lead a trip, why you want to lead a trip,  what is the day to day itinerary, what you plan on accomplishing on the trip, and the budget cost for each individual participant. When you complete the application, you must submit it to the SERVE committee.

The SERVE committee reviews and considers your application. The committee consists of a variety of students, faculty and staff. The committee looks at all aspects of your trip like  how it is laid out, the itinerary, the budget and how beneficial it will be to the University. Once the trip is approved, you may have to make certain adjustments that the board has requested. You should then submit it again so that the board can look over it quickly for any changes.

Once your trip is approved, it is time to wait for the SERVE committee to send out the application to the university. Once they send the application to university students, you will receive updates about who applied to your trip and whether it was their first, second or third choice. The next step is to contact the individuals that chose your trip first to set up an interview. This involves a lot of flexibility on your end. You can also choose to do the interviews with your advisor(s) present. You have to come up with questions that pertain to what qualities you are looking for in each of your trip participants. You also need to make sure that they are able to financially afford the trip. It is important to be as clear as possible as to what the different aspects of the trip will consist of and to find out if he/she is okay with taking on this responsibility. The interviews should last about 15 minutes each, and they are often pretty informal.

Once the interviews are complete, you have to review each applicant to determine the best candidates for the trip. You must also ensure that someone on your trip speaks the native language. It is recommended to have more than one person that speaks the language. Each trip leader has his/her expectations of how the trip will go and what the trip participants will be like. Unfortunately, because we apply for only a set number of individuals to attend our trips, we cannot accept everybody all the time. Sometimes there may even have to be a second round of interviews to decide who should be accepted and denied.

Once the group is established, you should notify the SERVE committee. As a trip leader, you should plan a few meetings so your group can get to know each other before the trip. Some of your members may have an idea of each other, while others may not. It is also important to try to plan a few fundraisers, especially if your trip is an international one because those tend to be more costly.

You must then notify the place where you are volunteering and the hotel. For my trip, the place we were staying and volunteering were the same place, so I only had to notify one person. They usually want to know names and genders of each individual. You must also notify the SERVE committee of the trip participants names, passport numbers and birthdays. This is to ensure the plane tickets are purchased. Because my trip was an international one, it involved more paperwork on both ends (the SERVE committee and place we were volunteering/staying). We needed this paperwork to ensure the safety of all participants.

You must ensure that you include a packing list for participants because it is likely that some of your participants have never been to the location you are headed to. Soon enough you will be departing and on your way to your destination. As the trip leader, you may sit down and breathe because your trip is finally in motion, but your duty as a trip leader does not stop. You must ensure all aspects of the trip keep rolling.

Eventually, you make it to your final location. It was also your duty to assign rooms to each individual based on their personalities and who they hang out with. Depending what time you arrive, the participants will probably spend the first day unpacking, calling home, and just acclimating to the new location. It is important to have a team meeting to discuss the do’s and don’ts, the expectations and the itinerary for the trip. Each night it is important to try to have a team meeting to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each day and to see what everyone really got out that day. Your group may be all volunteering and doing the same thing, but they all see things a bit differently. Remind the students that they are there to volunteer and serve. There will most likely be times when your team gets snippy with each other while working long, tiring days with little alone time. Remind the participants that they all came on this trip for different reasons and it is very important to acknowledge everyone’s differences, wants and needs. It is also very important to keep your trip advisors informed about everything that is going on.

Pretty soon the trip will fly by, and you will not know where time went. All your planning and hard work came together to make it an absolutely amazing trip.

The SERVE program has allowed me to visit places I thought I would never see and it has allowed me to meet individuals I thought I would never meet. I have become extremely close to other trip participants and the faculty members. This is what happens when you spend a week together, day and night. The SERVE program is an amazing program and unlike any other.

It provides an opportunity to really immerse yourself in a new culture in a way one would never expect. Because of this, I chose to lead a SERVE trip last Spring.

Many of us have heard of the SERVE program, but not many of us have actually considered how it operates. The SERVE Program has a variety of different approaches and steps to take in order to make it a successful trip. I led a trip to Ecuador in the Spring of 2013. My preparation was a bit different because it was an international project, so it involved a little bit more paperwork.

First off, you have to plan the whole trip on your own. You have to decide where you want to volunteer, how you will get there, the budget, how many participants you want to take and who your faculty advisor(s) will be. This is just the start.

Once this is established, you have to actually apply to be a trip leader. This application contains a variety of different questions including: what makes you a good trip leader, what your leadership experience has been, where you want to lead a trip, why you want to lead a trip,  what is the day to day itinerary, what you plan on accomplishing on the trip, and the budget cost for each individual participant. When you complete the application, you must submit it to the SERVE committee.

The SERVE committee reviews and considers your application. The committee consists of a variety of students, faculty and staff. The committee looks at all aspects of your trip like  how it is laid out, the itinerary, the budget and how beneficial it will be to the University. Once the trip is approved, you may have to make certain adjustments that the board has requested. You should then submit it again so that the board can look over it quickly for any changes.

Once your trip is approved, it is time to wait for the SERVE committee to send out the application to the university. Once they send the application to university students, you will receive updates about who applied to your trip and whether it was their first, second or third choice. The next step is to contact the individuals that chose your trip first to set up an interview. This involves a lot of flexibility on your end. You can also choose to do the interviews with your advisor(s) present. You have to come up with questions that pertain to what qualities you are looking for in each of your trip participants. You also need to make sure that they are able to financially afford the trip. It is important to be as clear as possible as to what the different aspects of the trip will consist of and to find out if he/she is okay with taking on this responsibility. The interviews should last about 15 minutes each, and they are often pretty informal.

Once the interviews are complete, you have to review each applicant to determine the best candidates for the trip. You must also ensure that someone on your trip speaks the native language. It is recommended to have more than one person that speaks the language. Each trip leader has his/her expectations of how the trip will go and what the trip participants will be like. Unfortunately, because we apply for only a set number of individuals to attend our trips, we cannot accept everybody all the time. Sometimes there may even have to be a second round of interviews to decide who should be accepted and denied.

Once the group is established, you should notify the SERVE committee. As a trip leader, you should plan a few meetings so your group can get to know each other before the trip. Some of your members may have an idea of each other, while others may not. It is also important to try to plan a few fundraisers, especially if your trip is an international one because those tend to be more costly.

You must then notify the place where you are volunteering and the hotel. For my trip, the place we were staying and volunteering were the same place, so I only had to notify one person. They usually want to know names and genders of each individual. You must also notify the SERVE committee of the trip participants names, passport numbers and birthdays. This is to ensure the plane tickets are purchased. Because my trip was an international one, it involved more paperwork on both ends (the SERVE committee and place we were volunteering/staying). We needed this paperwork to ensure the safety of all participants.

You must ensure that you include a packing list for participants because it is likely that some of your participants have never been to the location you are headed to. Soon enough you will be departing and on your way to your destination. As the trip leader, you may sit down and breathe because your trip is finally in motion, but your duty as a trip leader does not stop. You must ensure all aspects of the trip keep rolling.

Eventually, you make it to your final location. It was also your duty to assign rooms to each individual based on their personalities and who they hang out with. Depending what time you arrive, the participants will probably spend the first day unpacking, calling home, and just acclimating to the new location. It is important to have a team meeting to discuss the do’s and don’ts, the expectations and the itinerary for the trip. Each night it is important to try to have a team meeting to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each day and to see what everyone really got out that day. Your group may be all volunteering and doing the same thing, but they all see things a bit differently. Remind the students that they are there to volunteer and serve. There will most likely be times when your team gets snippy with each other while working long, tiring days with little alone time. Remind the participants that they all came on this trip for different reasons and it is very important to acknowledge everyone’s differences, wants and needs. It is also very important to keep your trip advisors informed about everything that is going on.

Pretty soon the trip will fly by, and you will not know where time went. All your planning and hard work came together to make it an absolutely amazing trip.

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