Serving Across the Country, 20 Years of Mission: Possible

The Mission: Possible program began in 1998 with twenty students as a partnership between CCASL and University Ministry. It has since expanded to 10 sites around the United States with over 130 participants annually. Service immersions at their best not only challenge but also transform. This is summed up in the words of one Mission: Possible student: “I learned I need to be open to change while doing service. Because even though we think we are there to change other people’s lives, we have the opportunity to change as well.” Undergraduate students are at a time of discerning not only what they want to do with their careers, but who they want to be, and who they want to become.  Another student participant commented, “This trip has definitely made me rethink what I want to do with my future. I grew a lot on this trip, in such a positive way.”

Students plan, organize, fundraise and lead the Mission: Possible trips with the assistance of Gonzaga staff and faculty advisors. Over the course of the week, the teams serve in soup kitchens, repair homes, engage in environmental sustainability work, participate in cultural immersions, work with the refugee population, and mentor at-risk youth at local elementary and high schools. The purpose of Mission: Possible is to enter into mutually beneficial relationships with community partners, focusing on student learning, as well as community impact.  We do this by focusing on four core themes of simplicity, spirituality, community and justice. One of our students reflected upon the experience:

It’s easy to say the words: community, simplicity, social justice, and spiritualty, but being present in a society that exemplifies all of these was incredibly inspirational. This experience was completely life changing for me and I plan on doing it every year here after.”

Mission: Possible is a concrete example of students bringing Gonzaga’s mission statement to life. By leaving Spokane, participants are challenged to work with communities outside of their comfort zone, and encouraged to learn more about themselves, and about issues of social justice. In March 2015 Mission: Possible students will travel to Knoxville Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; Tacoma, Washington; New York, New York; San Francisco, California; Browning, Montana; Neah Bay, Washington; Denver, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri; and Portland, Oregon.

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