My Experiences on MacServe Reading Week
I have participated in MacServe for each of the years that I’ve been at McMaster: in my first year, I ventured to Vancouver, and in my second year, I traveled to Montreal. The experiences were unique to each other, but both included an enriching exposure to the community that we visited, with a wide range of placements and nightly reflections.
I originally applied to MacServe in first year because I wanted to get more involved in the McMaster community and a friend had sent me the link. The theme of the Vancouver trip was (and still is) Dynamics of Food Security. I didn’t have many pre-conceived notions of the topic, but I love Vancouver, and I was interested in learning.
When I went on the trip, I had no other friends going. For a first year student who is typically introverted, I was very nervous. However, I had no reason to be – I quickly made friends with the girls assigned to be my roommates, and within a few days of exploring the city together, I felt like I had known them forever. The placements took place all over Vancouver: from Richmond to the East End. What I liked best about the trip was the emphasis on learning. At each placement, we were able to talk to staff and supervisors about the purpose and vision of the organization. In the evenings, after dinner, we would reflect on our placements and participate in meaningful discussions. I loved the reflections – we would often partake in different activities designed to let us think about how we felt about what we had seen. I felt like I truly got a lot out of the reflections.
In second year, I had enjoyed the previous experience so much that I decided to apply to MacServe again. This year, a friend signed up with me, and we travelled to Montreal under the theme on Advocacy and Inclusion (which again, is the same as the year prior). This year I had to dress much more warmly, but the trip was once again great. A highlight of my trip was visiting the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University, especially since at that time, the MSU’s Women and Gender Equity Network (WGEN) was a pilot service in its first year of existence. The trip focused, once again, on learning and reflection, and building positive connections within the community that we visited. Although I had previously been on a MacServe trip, I still looked forward to the reflections and getting to know my new team. By the end of the week, I returned to McMaster with several new friends and a lot to think about.
Applications are now open (until Monday!) for this year’s trips: Hamilton, Montreal, New Orleans, Vancouver, Dominican Republic, and Ottawa. Whether you’re in first or fourth year, going with a friend or on your own, passionate about the topic or just a beginner, I would definitely recommend applying! To learn more about the trips and their topics, go to http://studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca/students/service-learning/macserve-reading-week.html.