Elizabethtown College Online Magazine

Coming Full Circle: A Student Reflection of Service-Learning

service trip to thistle farms students making crafts

Students working at Thistle Farms during the service trip.

A year ago I sat in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center listening to the Rev. Becca Stevens talk about the prostitution and addiction she witnessed on the streets of Nashville, Tenn., and how she was working to combat the issue through two programs: Magdalene, a residential treatment program for survivors of addiction, human trafficking and prostitution, and Thistle Farms, a social enterprise run by (and for) the women of Magdalene. My professor recommended I attend Stevens’ talk, but I did not anticipate becoming so inspired. I left Leffler that day determined to make my way to Nashville to see Becca, Magdalene and Thistle Farms.

A year later, there I was. A group of us was crowded into two minivans, excited to meet those who had visited us, excited to spend our spring break volunteering, having fun and, most
importantly, learning. As we spent our days alongside Magdalene residents, making paper products for Thistle Farms’ store or working in food pantries, many of us came to realize how blind we had been to the issues facing these women and how much we actually had in common with them.

After our last day at Thistle Farms, we crowded back into our minivans, into silence. We sat, reflecting on our experiences. Then Ashton Morgan ’13 spoke up: “Oh ladies, how can we fix this problem back home?”

‘Good question’, I thought. ‘How do we find a way to fight any injustice in our community?’ First things first, speak up! We might not be able to open “Magdalene: Lancaster” tomorrow, but that does not mean we should keep our mouths shut. Rather, I feel we should educate others and tell them what we experienced.

Read Rustin and Sarah Creme’s “diaries” of the event.