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Sydney Snell

From Colombia to Minnesota


Hi everyone! I just want to wish a big welcome back to everyone at DePaul after our six (!!!) week break. This six week break is one of the things that I love the most about DePaul because it allows students to not be worrying about finals over Thanksgiving. DePaul provides countless programs and experiences to students over breaks. These experiences allow students to go on a short-term study abroad trip or a service immersion trip.

Over my break, I had the opportunity to go on a service immersion trip to Bogotá, Colombia with eight other students. On this trip we learned about the issues of the education system, displacement, and armed conflicts. Having the opportunity to hear stories from individuals who have experienced these issues first hand was so amazing, and I am forever grateful for their determination to spread awareness of what is going on in their country. One thing that I take away from this trip is the importance of community. Wherever my group went, we were welcomed with open arms. Despite the language barrier, we were still able to make a connection through laughs and smiles. One day while we were volunteering at a school, one boy in second grade named Oscar was determined to teach me Spanish. He found it hilarious that I did not know what basic things such as ‘cement’ meant in Spanish. While he was teaching me Spanish, I also taught him some words in English as well.

Bogota, Colombia 
Once I returned from this trip, I was lucky enough to spend time with my family and friends in the arguably best state ever, Minnesota. One thing I miss the most going to school in Chicago is nature. While I was home, my mom and I planned a day trip to Duluth, Minnesota. While we were there we hiked through the snow and saw some beautiful sites.

Nature in Minnesota
​I hope everyone had a wonderful break, and I hope everyone has an even more wonderful winter quarter. :) 


Service Immersions

In honor of applications being open for spring break service immersion trips, I thought I should talk about the two trips I have had the opportunity to go on.  During the spring break of my freshman year at DePaul, I went to Bladensburg, Maryland.  During this trip, we went to D.C., as well as Baltimore in Maryland.  The focus of this trip was healthcare, which we learned a lot about when we visited many different sites in D.C..  When we went to Baltimore for a day, we learned about human trafficking, which was an issue I had hardly been exposed to before.  Human trafficking is rarely discussed in the media, so I was very grateful to learn so much about it. 

My second service immersion trip was to Los Angeles, California during my winter break last year.  The focus of this trip was homelessness, and we stayed in the heart of skid row.  This experience is something I will always remember, as well as all of the people I met.  The highlights of the trip for me were sitting with those who were homeless over lunch, and getting to know them.  One man I was talking to said he was so proud of our group for spending our winter break this way, and said he sincerely believes our generation has the power to change the world.  Another highlight of the trip for me was going to a site called Homeboy Industries.  Homeboy Industries helps many individuals who were formerly in gangs or incarcerated.  Their purpose is to help these individuals find a place back in society.  They do this by offering tattoo removals so it is easier for these individuals to get jobs, offering mental health services, workforce development, educational services, and more.  Homeboy Industries also has a bakery as well as Homegirl Cafe, which hires individuals who have come to Homeboy Industries seeking help.  Having these jobs that give them hands-on experience when many other places have turned them down due to their criminal record is a very important step in their road to success.

Both of these trips have allowed me to meet wonderful people at DePaul, as well as all over the United States.  Over winter break I will be going on a service immersion trip to Bogota, Colombia and I am so excited.  I cannot wait to write a blog about it. :)