Briar Cliff junior Jake Rosenmeyer volunteers at a school in St. Lucia during a mission trip to the West Indies.
ST. LUCIA, West Indies – You could say Briar Cliff University students learned the meaning of true happiness while on a 10-day mission trip to the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies, as a part of the University’s May Term Immersion Experience.
Traveling to the tiny impoverished nation in the British Commonwealth were BCU students Deanna Ayala, Racine, Wis.; Abby Buckhouse, Urbandale, Iowa; Jane Hartigan, La Vista, Neb.; Jake Rosenmeyer, Wesley, Iowa; and Chelsea Yockey, Moville, Iowa. Sister Janet May, OSF, director of Campus Ministry, accompanied them to the island.
“The people we helped were some of the happiest individuals we had ever met. Yet, based on American standards, they have almost nothing.”
— Jake Rosenmeyer, BCU student
During their stay, the students mingled with locals, painted houses, volunteered in schools, worshipped in churches and immersed themselves in the area’s unique culture.
According to Rosenmeyer, an education major at Briar Cliff, the immersion experience served as a paradigm shift. “The people we helped and worked with were some of the happiest individuals we had ever met. Yet, based on American standards, they have almost nothing, but that does not matter. Their hearts are open and they share what little they have. Most Americans don’t realize how lucky they are. We have so many resources and by sharing them we could really make a difference,” said the BCU junior.
St. Lucia’s two main sources of income – tourism and banana farming – enable islanders to eke out a meager existence in the region’s hot and humid climate.
“The students learned much about the needs of the island’s poor population, which struggles to make a living due to the lack of tillable soil and very mountainous terrain,” said Sister Janet.
Since 2008, Sister Mary Lee Cox and Sister Frances Nosbisch, Sisters of Saint Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, have been ministering with the people of the West Indies, many of whom are descendants of African slaves.
Flanked by the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans, the island is 26 miles long and 14 miles wide with one main highway around the perimeter and only two major cities: Castries, the capital in the north, and Vieux Fort in the south.
Through December, the BCU mission team is collecting lead pencils (no retractable pencils), erasers and small pencil sharpeners for distribution to the schools in St. Lucia. Send donations to Sister Janet May, Campus Ministry, 3303 Rebecca Street, Sioux City, Iowa 51104.
For more information about Briar Cliff’s mission experiences, contact campus ministry.