Virginia Farrell '20 Answers Questions about her Domestic Service Trip

Virginia Farrell '20 answers questions about her experience in Anchorage last summer for the University’s first domestic service trip to Alaska.

Nine students and two adult chaperones traveled to Anchorage last summer, the University’s first domestic service trip to Alaska, to work with Bean’s Café and Catholic Social Services (CSS) to serve the food insecure. Bean’s Café is a day shelter that serves breakfast and lunch to the hungry and homeless. During its time in Anchorage, the service group served meals in the morning and afternoon at Bean’s Café and spent nights serving dinner, cleaning the pantry and assisting people in the grocery store at the Brother Francis Shelter.

Virginia Farrell ’20 said the trip was a transformative experience. The Scranton Journal spoke with her about her experience.

What was the biggest takeaway from your Alaska experience?

My biggest takeaway was a respect for the people I met at Bean’s Café. I admired their ability to keep their faith against all odds. Meeting them allowed me to redefine stereotypes about homelessness by witnessing active attempts to better their lives with the help of Bean’s Café.

Why did you choose to go on a domestic service trip rather than an international service trip?

I chose to apply for a domestic service trip because I wanted to experience a different kind of service trip and I wanted to face the reality of homelessness and poverty in our own country. Experiencing my first presence-based service trip gave me an even deeper connection to the people we met in Anchorage while expanding my views on homelessness. Having already gone on an international service trip, I knew I wanted to continue to broaden my horizons and break down my comfort zones by meeting new people in new places.

Why service is important to you?

Service is necessary to break down walls built between people who are different. By putting yourself out there, by being vulnerable to new situations, you are able to relate on a deeper level. You hear stories that open your eyes to harsh realities. You connect through faith and love and you stand in solidarity with one another.

Have you gone on any other service trips or done service in a different capacity?

I started participating in service trips during my time in high school. At our Jesuit high school, service work was part of the fabric of our education. It was there where I went on my first trip to Johns Island, South Carolina. On Johns Island, we worked with Habitat for Humanity digging the foundation for a home. The work, the people and the reflections made for a wonderful understanding of service that I carried into college.

My freshman year at The University of Scranton, I immediately applied for an international service trip and was placed on the Managua, Nicaragua Hand-in-Hand trip. In Managua, our group aided in building a home for a Nicaraguan family. The family and construction crew were there with us every step of the way. The humility and kindness we were shown were unparalleled. The following year I traveled to Anchorage, and this year I will be leading an international service trip!

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