Merrimack Students Brought ‘Hope and Light’ to Ecuador During Immersion Trip

Associate Professor Anne Flaherty and Augustinian Volunteer Maggie Morrin recently led eight Merrimack students to Ecuador, to expand their personal horizons and spread hope to the less fortunate.

Immersion trips are different than the service learning trips during the school year’s winter and spring breaks when students, faculty and staff volunteer to care for the disabled, serve at food kitchens and repair homes.

“We simply go to be with the people. We fully immerse ourselves in the culture and communities we are in,” Morrin said. “It’s more about being with the people and seeing how they live. It broadens everyone’s horizons and we get out of our bubbles that we live in to see how other people live.”

Campus Ministry worked with the nonprofit Rostro de Cristo, of Braintree, Mass., to plan the trip. The Catholic program looks to build relationships with Ecuadorians so that pilgrims can “reflect on the face of Christ in their joys and struggles,” help Ecuadorians meet basic human needs, and achieve a justice rooted in Gospel values.

“In this way, Rostro de Cristo participants witness the Gospel and serve as a source of hope and light in the community,” according to the website.

Flaherty, who teaches in political science at Merrimack, went on a service trip to Cuba over the winter break with her husband and three children, but this was the first immersion trip she took with the college. As well as bringing hope to the people of Ecuador, Flaherty gained a deeper understanding of students.

“This was a way to just get to know students on a much deeper level,” she said. “I had never spent a week before with any student, much less eight of them.”