What Makes Spring Break Immersion So Special?

Hello all! I apologize for the slight break in posting- I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous entries how the spring semester picks up quite fast, and while there were definitely some hurdles along the way, I’ve also taken many great experiences from it all! And I don’t think anything fits that description better than my week spent on an immersion trip through Holy Cross’ Spring Break Immersion Program. With our original trip destination getting switched last minute because of COVID, sending us on a surprise flight that was actually my first flight EVER (thankfully, all went well and I enjoyed it very much), which later led to further complicating sleeping arrangements and Uber rides, adjusting to the unprecedented became a commonality for the early stages of the trip. I traveled to a L’Arche site, which is where people with and without intellectual disabilities live together in community and “make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities… through mutually transforming relationships” (taken from the mission of their website). L’Arche sites are located all across the globe, but my site specifically was in the Washington, DC area. I stayed in one of the four L’Arche GWDC homes with eight other Holy Cross students, and we spent the week helping with household tasks and fostering bonds with the core members that live there. Tasks included organizing and cleaning out various corners of the houses and cooking meals, but we obviously made sure to set aside time for Uno games, Wii Bowling, Gilmore Girls and casual conversation too. 🙂 It was so special to hear each core member’s unique story and watch the friendships form over the course of the week. I think one of my favorite parts of the whole trip was the Prayer Night held on Zoom for the entire L’Arche DC community, where everyone came together to sing, reflect, pray, and most of all, celebrate. It was so moving to see how everyone cherished their faith so strongly, and to be so effortlessly welcomed into this circle of friendship really emphasized how well L’Arche does what it sought out to do.

At the end of the day, though, I can’t say that my spring break immersion trip was easy. Paired with all the obstacles from the start of the week, I struggled with integrating myself into a brand-new community and getting to know the people I was working with, and the work itself was a consistently exhausting effort. However, it wasn’t a sense of tiredness I’d exchange for anything in the world; it was an accomplished sort of tired, knowing that I gave it my all every single day, despite it not always being easy. And that’s the beauty of SBIP- it is difficult and humbling in the most beautiful way, revealed to you through the most extraordinary experiences. I can say with full confidence that this is not my last visit to L’Arche, and I’m already looking forward to the new memories and friendships that will be formed in the upcoming years. Thank you to all, both in the Holy Cross Chaplain’s Office (who worked TIRELESSLY to ensure all groups were sent off to their destinations safely, even in the midst of a snowstorm!) and at L’Arche GWDC, for making this so unbelievably special!

If you are passionate about working with people with intellectual disabilities and advocating for disability rights, I could not recommend L’Arche more! They are always in need of more help and is home to such a joyful and blessed community that was so gracious and thankful for even what appeared to be the smallest task. So much light and love is shared in a L’Arche community and it deserves to be spread to as many as possible.

Thanks for reading- until next time! Remember, in the spirit of L’Arche, and in the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, to always do “small things with great love.”

Nine girls standing together in front of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, under a clear blue sky with two American flags on either side in the background.
We even had some time to explore the city- here is our group at the WW2 Memorial (and you can even see some of the Washington Monument in the background!)
Nine girls, all wearing the same blue shirt, posing with three other older individuals, two of which are seated one in a wheelchair) and the third on the far left.
Here we are with some of the core members at one of the houses we worked in! We even got to take home some awesome L’Arche GWDC t-shirts (worn in this picture!)

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