Jessica Zawrotney, a sophomore psychology and special education major, is one of eight students who will not be spending her spring break lying on the beach and partying with friends. Instead, she will be spending her 10 days off from school leading a simple lifestyle as the Ecuadorians do.
On Feb. 24, Zawrotney and the other students are traveling to a Christian community in Ecuador as a part of The Rostro de Cristro experience. Rostro de Cristo, meaning “face of Christ,” is a service immersion trip where students work with the Ecuadorian people in hopes of finding long term solutions to poverty problems.
The students were shown a movie to get a feel of what they are to expect when they arrive in Ecuador. Zawrotney said the video shows images such as broken down houses and muddy, unpaved roads. They were also told that their meals would be much less filling than usual.
“I still don’t really know what to expect. We were told to be open-minded,” Zawrotney said as she prepares for the trip.
This Christian community is used to teach these students how to incorporate God to their everyday lifestyles. They were told to be high in faith upon going on the trip to build a strong relationship with the Ecuadorian people.
Throughout the entire country of Ecuador, 95 percent of the population is Catholic
The simple lifestyle the students will experience consists of wearing clothing somewhat similar to the Ecuadorians, such as t-shirts and longer shorts instead of clothing that is high in fashion.
They are also expected to live off of almost one dollar per day. One of their goals is to try and fit in and not draw so much attention to the fact that they are American.
No electronics or luxury products are permitted on the trip.
“We won’t even be able to have our cell phones,” Zawrotney said.
Each night the students will reflect on how their lives have changed to try and fit in with the Ecuadorian community.
“They can’t really expect us to completely understand their daily struggles but they can try to allow us to reflect on them through the face of Christ to possibly improve their lifestyle.”
Zawrotney gets her motivation to attend the trip from her experience in West Virginia building houses during last year’s spring break and from being active in the Wolfington Center.
“After coming back from last years trip, I was asking myself, what else can I do to help? Ecuador was just the answer,” she said.
In order to fund, the trip an auction was held and the students sent out letters to friends and family members asking for donations, raising $6,000.
Zawrotney’s family is very supportive of her decision to attend the trip and donated money on her behalf.
After speaking to students that attended the trip last year, Zawrotney knew this was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up because it is said to be a life changing experience.
Zawrotney said, “I’m so excited to have this opportunity. Even though I don’t know what to expect or even pack for the trip, I still just cannot wait to leave.”