Courtesy of the Harding Bison.

While many Harding students spent their spring breaks serving in places like California, Arizona, Nicaragua and Mexico, 15 students stayed on Harding’s campus.

“I wanted to spend my spring break serving others,” freshman Isabella Paul said. “I have to admit, originally, I only chose to stay in Searcy for spring break missions because it cost the least amount of money. But as we started having team meetings, I began to get excited about serving the Searcy community.”

While here, the students worked with 100 Families, Timothy Hill Ranch and New Horizons food pantry among many other organizations, helping out and learning how each organization serves the Searcy community.

“It is our home while we are at Harding,” Paul said. “The people of Searcy are our people. How can we be a light to the world if we are not a light to them?”

Senior Emma Hayes said even though Searcy has many churches and a Christian college, the statistics of people experiencing homelessness, low income and drug use are still high.

“I’m a big advocate for loving others where we are presently, however you can love, wherever you are, right now.” Hayes said.

Most students come to Harding for four years and don’t spend much time in the Searcy community, sophomore molecular and cellular biology major Kaelyn Evans said. Evans said she believed she had taken Searcy for granted before.

“People think they have to go across seas to help others, but that’s not true,” Evans said. “While those are equally important, I also believe that we cannot forget about those that are struggling everyday that we see on a regular basis.”

Hayes, one of the trip leaders, said how people talk about a trip can affect how they perceive the people affected by it.

“Some people that I highly respect have encouraged me to use ‘vision trip’ rather than ‘mission trip,’” Hayes said. “Good intentions, bad execution. When we say mission trip, it sounds like we have something to offer others that they wouldn’t receive otherwise. In pride, I have often believed that when I go to a place locally or foreign, I’m bringing Jesus there.”

Hayes said students get to be Jesus’ hands and feet. When they say “vision” trip, Hayes said, it allows for the people that were once thought as a project to fix to become one with them.

“It’s very important to humbly approach work in love and be able to leave vision trips with a new vision, something to unpack, something that expands our worldview, not something that allows us to pat ourselves on the back and check off and move on,” Hayes said. “It should break us a little more and give us eyes to see others as Jesus does.”