Going on a Service Trip? What to Expect

In January, I will be traveling to Houston with Livingston Cares to assist with flood recovery. To prepare me for this trip, I attended a GOLD workshop, Going on a Service Trip? What to Expect last week.The expectation was that this workshop would provide us with specific information regarding our trip as well as a discussion about approaching volunteering with “the right frame of mind”, which I thought related back to our collaborative course statement idea about attending a service trip for the right reasons (GOLD). I was also interested in this workshop because it indicated that, “we will address when service trips can be beneficial and when they can harm a community” (GOLD). Thomas Matthews, the director of our trip, started the conversation by highlighting the importance of volunteers having respect for both the project managers on site and the new and unique culture in which we would be immersed.  He emphasized that we are not there to tell local citizens how to do something, but rather to ask them what they need us to do. Thomas Matthews’ advice is similar to some of the solutions we created in the second step of the collaborative project. For example, one of our ideas was to consider feedback from local residents in order to see how volunteers would be able to help, then placing them in roles for which they are qualified. I am beginning to see how relevant our project is and how it can apply to numerous organizations.

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