High Point University Students Spend Spring Break Serving Haiti and Houston
During spring break this year, High Point University students celebrated the values of service, selflessness and generosity by giving back to communities around the world. Through the Alternative Spring Break Program, students renovated a home in Houston, Texas, affected by Hurricane Harvey and served children in Haiti.
Their efforts, highlighted below, reflect the opportunities that HPU provides to students to expand not only academically, but interpersonally through a holistic education model. Through the university’s innovative approach, students see the bigger picture and discover a world outside of their own.
Led by HPU Chapel and Religious Life, students journeyed to Houston, Texas, to work alongside the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church on Hurricane Harvey flood relief.
During their pilgrimage, students worked to clean and repair the home of a pastor’s widow and also visited with some of the most unique ministries in the country. They heard from clergy, developed their philosophy for ministry, learned to ask and answer deep questions about what it means to be a disciple of Christ in a multicultural setting like Houston, and learned how faith relates to service and social ethics.
Beyond helping Houston, the trip also held personal ties for the group. Wes Fields, an HPU freshman and member of the Board of Stewards, the student leadership group for HPU Chapel, is from Houston. Many of his family and friends were affected by the flood, and throughout the week, he helped the entire HPU team see the service they were doing through the eyes of the people who live there.
“It was deeply gratifying,” says the Rev. Preston Davis, minister to HPU. “It brings the tragedy, trauma and hopeful response into much clearer focus. I’ve been so proud of these students for their effort, their willingness to learn from one another and these teachers, and their compassion to reach out to those in pain.”
“I decided to go on the trip because I love to serve others,” says HPU student Jacob Lancaster. “It is through service that I find the most joy, and I also find meaning in the community that is built on these trips, this being my third time on a pilgrimage.”
“The most impactful part of our trip was interacting with the family of the woman whose house we were working on,” says HPU student Anna Linares. “They were beyond gracious and patient, and it was an honor to help them through this season of their lives.”
A group of HPU students traveled to Haiti, which was ravaged by an earthquake eight years ago, through the Be Like Brit Orphanage. The organization is operated by parents of an HPU graduate. During their week of service, students built a home for a Haitian family. They shoveled the foundation, built up all four walls, and presented the family with a key to the home at the conclusion of the week.
At the end of each day, the students would play sports and spend time with the children at the orphanage.
Alexis Ogren, one of 12 HPU students who made up the Haiti team, dedicated her spring break to service because she wanted to get pushed beyond her comfort zone and grow through serving others.
“My absolute favorite part of the trip came at the very end,” says Ogren. “We had a huge dance party with all the children from the orphanage – the perfect way to end the week. Everyone was so happy, relaxed and having a blast. When we had to say goodbye to all the children, the impact of the experience hit me. I was shocked with how attached I’d grown to all the kids. And, of course, a favorite moment was our house blessing. After completing our build, we gathered together to bless the house and hand over the key to the family.”
Editor’s Note: 1) High Point University students traveled to Houston as part of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and worked to clean and repair the home of a pastor’s widow. 2) Led by HPU Chapel and Religious Life, students in Houston also visited with some of the most unique ministries in the country, learning from clergy and their philosophy for ministry. 3) HPU students traveled to Haiti through the Be Like Brit Orphanage and spent their week building a home for a Haitian family. 4) HPU student Bridget Collier plays with children from the Be Like Brit Orphanage. At the conclusion of every work day, the HPU student group would spend time with the children, singing and playing sports. 5) From leveling a foundation to installing walls, HPU students built a family’s home during their week of service in Haiti. 6) HPU students in Haiti mixed and spread concrete as the base of the home.
At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people.® HPU, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is a liberal arts institution with more than 4,900 undergraduate and graduate students. It is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report for Best Regional Colleges in the South, No. 1 for Most Innovative Regional Colleges in the South and No. 1 for Best Undergraduate Teaching in the South. The Princeton Review named HPU in the 2018 edition of “The Best 382 Colleges” in the nation, as well as Best Career Services (No. 19), Best-Run Colleges (No. 20), Best College Dorm Rooms (No. 7), a Great School for Communication Majors and a Great School for Business/Finance Majors. For seven years in a row, HPU has been named a College of Distinction with special recognition for business and education programs, and The National Council on Teacher Quality ranks HPU’s elementary education program as one of the best in the nation. The university offers 50 undergraduate majors, 57 undergraduate minors and 13 graduate degree programs. It is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference. Visit High Point University on the web at highpoint.edu.