Students in the Dominican Republic on a COVE alternative winter break trip.

Colgate students in the Dominican Republic for a COVE alternative winter break trip work on a garden.

Sometimes the most rewarding journeys are those you take for someone else.

Colgate students participating in alternative winter break trips through the Max Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) traveled on humanitarian missions to the Dominican Republic, West Virginia, and New Orleans in December.

In the Dominican Republic, students worked with the Community Service Alliance to help build vegetable gardens for families affected by HIV/AIDS.

“It is intended to provide a sustainable nutritional supplement to patients living on a diet that most often lacks ideal nutritional content,” said Margaret Hynes ‘13. “As a group, we picked, dug, fertilized and planted about ten to twelve gardens from scratch. We were so fortunate to be able to meet these resilient families and the inspiring health promoters who work alongside these patient populations daily.”

Jacqueline Ball ‘13 said her time in the Dominican Republic was one of her most memorable experiences as an undergraduate, and a good example of how students give back as global citizens.

Students in New Orleans help repair a home damaged in Hurricane Isaac

Students in New Orleans help repair a home damaged in Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

“The support from Colgate was clear. The cost of the trip, including airfare, was subsidized, and all planning and logistics were taken care of by Colgate staff members, the COVE, and our trip leaders,” Ball said.

In New Orleans, students worked with the United Saints Recovery Project to help renovate the home of a disabled man following Hurricane Isaac. They also helped repaint a historic church, and pitched in at a local animal shelter.

“I recommend all Colgate students go on at least one alternative break trip, it will literally change their outlook on life,” said Siyun Zou ‘14.

Students that traveled to West Virginia helped Habitat for Humanity build a home for a needy family.

“Participating in these trips is always so rewarding, not just for the contribution that you make to the local community, but also for the opportunity to meet such a diverse array of people,” said two-time Habitat for Humanity volunteer Taylor Lockridge ‘15.

For Yuan Lou ‘16, her time in Pendleton County, W. Va., will stay with her for many years to come.

“If the experience itself is a treasure of life, then the people who made such an experience possible are keepers of the treasure,” said Lou. “Next time I hope I can be the treasure keeper, and pass on the spirit of volunteerism to more people.”