Despite less media coverage, Mississippi trips continue

Over Spring Break, approximately 50 Geneseo students will join six adults on a trip to Mississippi to provide relief work for victims of Hurricane Katrina. This will be the fifth trip that Geneseo students have gone on.

Kay Fly, coordinator of student volunteerism and service learning, has gone on previous trips and looks forward to the next one. Although not all of the 50 spots have been filled yet, Fly believes that they will be filled soon. "I think we're going to be right where we were before," Fly said. Fly also mentioned that almost all of the spots are filled, and students have been very responsive to information about the trip.

"I sent an e-mail out to the whole student body and got responses like crazy. It's a good turnout." Spots are awarded for the trip on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Geneseo senior Marie Ostrander has gone on two trips, and will be attending the trip next month as well as another one in May right after graduation. Ostrander has found previous trips to be very rewarding personally, and now plans on going into the field of disaster response and management after graduating because of these trips. She even enjoys the bus ride that the students take both ways, calling it "23 hours of joy."

Ostrander noted that one of the main concerns of students who may be willing to go on the trip is money. The trip costs each student approximately $550. Previous trips have been less expensive. For the Spring Break trip last year, the college contributed $10,000, which cut the cost by about $200 per student, but this money was not available this year. Some private funds from previous trips were also not carried over to this Spring Break trip.

Ostrander and others have attempted several fundraisers for the trip, and have even reached out to local corporations and asked for financial support, but with limited success. "We've been trying to do fundraising and get grants, but it's hard. Eighteen months later people aren't really thinking about Katrina anymore," Ostrander said.

Fly mentioned that "the division of student and campus life has been very supportive," in terms of helping the group fund their trip. Students will be selling buttons in the College Union at some point in the next couple of weeks in another attempt to raise money.

Ostrander is also concerned about the lack of interest in Katrina relief from both students and the American population in general. "It's not in the news anymore, nobody is talking about it anymore, but the area is still decimated, it all looks the same." She also went on to say that for many students, "Priorities are very skewed. I wish that people would care more about helping their fellow Americans than keeping up with the latest fashion trends."

Ostrander and Fly are both very encouraged by the students who do give their time and energy for the trip. "Anyone who you talk to who has gone on previous trips will tell you it's a blast," Ostrander claims. Fly shares similar sentiments. "The students are very enthusiastic. It's a great trip, that's why I'm going on it again."