Contact Dawn Insanalli, director of Public Relations, at (914) 637-2726 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sinead Knightly
Ionian STAFF WRITER
Have you ever had one of those days? Where you just felt trapped in the residence halls or bored with Iona's food, dying to break the everyday grind? Make a difference somewhere that matters? Then the Iona in Mission Program is the place to begin.
I know when I, and probably many others, hear the phrase "mission," we might picture a tight-knit group of Campus Ministers evangelizing Christianity overseas. We couldn't be more wrong. When I sat down with the Program Coordinator Tiffany DiNome, she set the record straight.
"The goal of this program is to offer the opportunity for students to serve either domestically or abroad to learn hands-on the social issues in different parts of the world."
Iona students can simply offer their services in Texas, New Jersey, upstate New York, West Virginia, New Orleans, Florida, Washington DC, Ecuador or Kenya to those who truly need help. A typical day on a Mission trip might involve fixing dilapidated housing in New Orleans, teaching to school children in the Appalachians, visiting clinics in Africa or simply putting a smile on someone's face.
But who can sign up? Anyone. The program is open to all faiths, and all students including residents, commuters, RAs and freshmen. To apply, anyone can stop by the Campus Ministries office on the second floor of LaPenta and pick up an application. Usually 10 to 12 students, one student leader, and one or two members of Iona's faculty and staff are chosen per trip. Those students interested are required to have a GPA of at least 2.5 and typically have to go through at least one interview.
What about the cost? It ranges considerably. It's approximately $240 for local trips such as New Jersey and Washington DC, $1300 for Ecuador and $2000 for Kenya. All transportation, housing and food are included in the cost of the trip. Often times the dedicated Mission team has fundraised enough through bake sales, car washes and t-shirts to pay for the whole trip! Members of the Honors Program can even create a "mini-proposal" for their Mission in the hopes to receive a scholarship for the trip.
What are the benefits of such an experience? First, the Mission trips are great for resumes. You can talk with an employer about a spring break to New Orleans rather than one to Cancun! Many Iona professors also offer class credit for partaking in a Mission trip, and the College offers one credit for the New York trip to Camp Viva. Secondly, the walls of a classroom are shattered.
"It's one thing to hear your professor lecture about the social problems in the world, but it's another thing completely to actually go to Ecuador and listen to a 90-year-old woman's life story," DiNome said.
It's a hands-on experience that many students have described as "the best thing I've done in my entire life." Students return from the Missions passionate about their experience and feel a profound sense of self-awareness and gratefulness toward their own lives. Students also create a unique bond with their fellow team members. For several weeks, you see a different side of people than you would normally. You live, eat, work, chat, learn, pray and reflect with people you may never have crossed paths with on campus. When team members pass each other on campus and wave hello, there's that friendly little reminder of an extraordinary experience.
So when you're cooped up inside on a rainy day, or drowning in a seemingly endless pile of work, keep the Iona in Missions program in the back of your mind. As DiNome has heard many students say, "No one should graduate from Iona without going on at least one Mission trip."
For questions or more information please contact:
Public Relations Office
Iona College, 715 North Avenue, New Rochelle, N.Y. 10801
Office: (914) 637-2726
Fax: (914) 637-2711
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