Northwestern students during a 2022 mission trip. (Northwestern College photo)

Several students from Northwestern College in Orange City are heading out this week for spring break — but their trips are working mission trips — not a chance to sit on a beach and soak up the sun.

Northwestern director of admissions, Patrick Hummel says they have 13 trips planned this year. “We got four international trips this year, one of them sounds kind of luxury when I say it at first, because we’ll be flying into Cabo San Lucas, but we will actually go about 50 miles north to a fishing village to work,” he says.

The nine U.S. trips include going to New Orleans, Kansas City, New Mexico, Compton, California, and northern Minnesota for a variety of different mission activities. Hummel says all the students volunteer for the trips. “One of the things I’ve loved about being here is, you know, it’s not required, but we have a real culture of students wanting to get involved,” Hummel says. “About 43 percent of our graduates do a spring trip, which is pretty high percentage, when you consider there’s lots of who can’t do it. Because we have a number of people in sports who have athletics going on during spring break.”

He says students are working to help others and they get something in return as well. “I think we make no bones about that our students really benefit from being in places that are culturally different from their own and where they grew up. You know, there’s a number of our students who come from our side of the midwest, but a lot of them are upper midwest, students who’ve never been to somewhere like New Orleans,” he says.

Hummel says they are lessons you don’t get in a classroom. “You get students in a novel setting together working with ministries who are there long term, and they tend to learn a lot about cultural difference and how to engage the world in different settings. So it’s really valuable for them to have this real life experience,” Hummel says.

He says students join teams and aren’t necessarily paired up with friends, so they get the added benefit of developing new friends on campus. “And when they come back to campus, campus feels kind of different. We’re all connected in new ways and in different ways, and that’s a lot of fun, too. It’s a lot brings real good energy to campus after spring break,” according to Hummel.

All the students pay a deposit, and then they do some fundraising as teams for some of the different projects to pay for their trip.

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