The Trip of a Lifetime: Spring Break Immersion Program 2020

Hello again, readers! Welcome back to the blog. Due to personal loss and a jam-packed schedule, I have had a very difficult time posting regularly over the past few months, but I am determined to right (write) the ship throughout the rest of this spring semester. I am in a GREAT state of mind, as I returned just yesterday from a week-long trip to Ivanhoe, Virginia as part of Holy Cross’s Spring Break Immersion Program (SBIP). The trip was absolutely wonderful. I’d even go so far as to say that it was my best Holy Cross experience to date. Though I cannot express in writing how truly impactful the trip was to me, hopefully I can encourage others to step outside of their comfort zone and participate in such an experience.

A group of twelve Holy Cross students posing in front of a sign for Ivanhoe, Virginia on a sunny day
Saying goodbye to Ivanhoe was hard, but we couldn’t help but smile for one last group shot as we left town.

Our week began on Saturday with a 5:00 a.m. departure to Roanoke, Virginia by bus. Upon arriving at the Roanoke airport, over 100 students dispersed into smaller groups to travel to their designated sites across the Appalachian region. Ivanhoe, which is located 701 miles from Holy Cross, is a small rural community in Southern Virginia. My group of twelve students arrived in Ivanhoe late Saturday night. After spending Sunday in prayer, recreation, and exploration, our week of immersion truly began on Monday, as we began our week of labor, conversation, and reflection alongside the residents of Ivanhoe. Each day was spent in community with the townspeople, as well as with a group of students from Boston College, with whom we shared lodging at the Ivanhoe Volunteer Fire Department.

The experience is, admittedly, hard to put into words. Each day we worked hard, but laughed even harder. We met people who had suffered, yet who were hopeful beyond belief. Most importantly, in my mind, we had each other. A group of twelve Holy Cross students, most of whom had never even met one another, became a community far stronger than any group I’ve ever been a part of on campus. Every day in Ivanhoe was a blessing— a blessing that I already wish I could experience for just one more time. It was unbelievable. It was Appa Magic.

We had to say goodbye to our new friends in Ivanhoe on Friday afternoon, and arrived in Worcester early Saturday morning. Our Immersion had ended, yet was simultaneously just beginning. My group spent the entirety of Saturday night together —eating, bowling, dancing, and celebrating the experience we had shared. We also celebrated Mass on Sunday night as a group, alongside hundreds of fellow students who had participated in SBIP as well.

Group of 12 Holy Cross students dressed in pink at Spring Break Immersion Program bowling night
To honor Maxine Walker, a leader in the Ivanhoe Community, we chose to represent her favorite animal, the flamingo, at bowling night!


Special shoutout to MaryGrace (our fearless leader), Bridget, E.B.B., Emily, Emily (again), Isabella, Josue, Evelyn, Matt, Michaela, Sofie, and Rourke (our favorite B.C. student) for making the experience so unforgettable. I will never forget the smiles, laughs, tears, card games, and vibe checks from this past week.

That’s all for now! Once again, trying to put into words all that I experienced on Spring Break Immersion is truly an impossible task. I am grateful to the College, my group members, and the people of Ivanhoe for making this wonderful experience possible. I can only hope to carry half of the joy I experienced on this trip with me throughout the rest of my semester at Holy Cross.


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