Q & A With Colleen Berger
Q: What is your name, class year, and the position you held on the NOLA trip? What were your responsibilities?
A: My name is Colleen Berger, I am a senior at Dickinson College and I am a community service student leader. My responsibilities consist of interviewing and selecting a diverse team, planning materials and educational materials in the pre-trip meetings, organizing fundraisers prior to the trip departure, working with administrators to execute a successful trip, facilitating reflection discussions before and during the trip.
Q: What was the purpose of this trip? Why did you decide to participate on this trip?
A: The purpose of this trip is to give students the opportunity to submerse themselves in another culture inside the US and learn about the effects of natural disasters and the recovery process. Participants get to know and build strong relationships with other students that they may not have had the opportunity to meet on campus. By experiencing the people and culture of New Orleans, students are able to reflect on their own life and grow through their own personal experience.
I choose to be a student leader for this trip because I want to give students the same opportunities I had when I participated in service trips in the past. I want to share my passion for service and New Orleans with others and demonstrate to them that getting out of your comfort zone forces you to grow in ways you didn’t think possible.
Q: What do you think you accomplished out of this trip?
A: One of the greatest things that we have accomplished on this trip is the deep, powerful relationships we have created with each other and the members of the community we worked in. Despite our diverse background and beliefs, we are connected now through the love of service and each other. In addition, we completed the work that was set before us with extreme attention and care as if the homes were our own. We learned the value of hard work and know that soon the homeowners will be moving into the homes we just painted and floored. We also learned about the unique culture of New Orleans and the effect of Hurricane Katrina and Isaac on the area, understanding how long and difficult the rebuilding process can be.
Q: What influences you to do service?
A: Having done service for most of my life, there are a number of reasons as to why I take time to do service. I have grown up in a fairly well-off family and although it has been difficult at times, by engaging in service I remember just how lucky I am to have the life that I live and how appreciative I should be for every second I have. Service gives me perspective on other ways of living and other cultures and forces me to question how I live my own life every day. I do service because of the people that I meet. There is nothing more incredible than listening to someone’s story, how they persevere after everything that has happened to them, and the hope they still have to get out of bed every day. In many ways, I have met the most compassionate, friendliest people I have ever known through service. Above all, I believe service is humbling, and it restores my faith in people, one person at a time.