Going into freshman year, I wasn’t involved in a lot of groups or activities on campus because of COVID-19 restrictions. Over the course of my freshman year, campus started to slowly make changes to try and go back to “normal.” As the spring semester ended, I knew that I wanted to join a group or different activities on campus to have community and get to know other students.
Coming back to school in the fall, I was part of OB (Orientation Board). It gave me the opportunity to grow closer with people I didn’t know very well and provide community to incoming freshmen. One of my friends from Orientation Board asked me what I was doing for fall break, and she proceeded to talk to me about an upcoming ICO trip. ICO is also referred to as Inner City Outreach, a small mission trip led by Grove City College students, taking place in different cities in multiple states, as well as a few countries. The only trip happening over fall break was ICO Aliquippa, and it was four days long. I grew up in the Pittsburgh area and have always been told that Aliquippa has a reputation for being unsafe and filled with crime. This made me very hesitant to want to go on the trip, but after talking to upperclassmen who went on the trip and listening to their experience, I decided that I wanted to go. I did not have high expectations, nor did I know what to expect before going on the trip. All I knew was that I was going out of my comfort zone and that made me very nervous and scared.
During the trip, we worked with a local church, Mount Carmel, and they felt like family at the end of the trip. We spent two days working on Janice’s house, a fellow believer. We got to paint her porch, do yardwork, and build her a new staircase to get into her house. The best part about working on her house was spending time with her, hearing about her life and how God has worked in it. We also got to spend time in the different plans (housing communities) playing with kids (lots and lots of face paint), doing Bible studies, handing out clothes, and serving food to families. We worked with a non-profit organization Communicycle that collected donated bikes to repair them and then give them to kids who do not have bikes. We spent time learning how to repair bikes and would drive around Aliquippa, handing out bikes to children.
Every night on the trip, the group would take time to reflect on the day and talk about their high and low and an instance of where they saw God that day. Asking these questions helped us to keep God at the center of our mind and of the trip. Looking back on the trip, I realized that Aliquippa is different than how it is perceived. People see Aliquippa as being a broken town with a high crime rate, but after spending time there, I see it in a different way. Although they do not have a lot, they have a strong community. They know people in different plans and all of their neighbors, treating each other like family. On the trip, I saw how present God was in each activity we did and how He is working through the people of Aliquippa. I cannot wait to go back to Aliquippa for the spring ICO trip and continue to share who God is to people. If you are looking for community at Grove City College, ICO trips provide amazing community with fellow students who want to share who God is with others!