Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty Years of Service to the Student

Pro / Con

Two Sides to the FCS Mission Trip

(Graham Key / Index)

PRO

By Janelle Grant

The Fellowship of Christian Students will be taking a mission trip to serve an orphanage in Quito, Ecuador. While the trip’s participants are coming from a background of privilege, this trip can benefit both the K College participants and the people they plan to serve in Ecuador.

I do believe that there is and should be equality between all human beings. On account of this, I think it is best for the K community to view mission trips as mutually beneficial experience because these individuals want to serve and further practice their faith.

An orphanage in a foreign country, just like any orphanage, can benefit from extra help, and I’m sure the orphans they meet will love to have visitors.

While it is true that the community of Kalamazoo and their own hometowns could also benefit from their service, these individuals have made service in their own communities and are trying to spread it past the borders.

The Bible does say to “go into all the world,” so it seems perfectly plausible to now reach out beyond their community to offer the same type of help they would give to their local charity.

Just how business or economics have an international perspective, mission groups shift a portion of their religious faith and practice to an international service perspective. I think mission trips are coming from a place of religious devotion and with an equal respect for humanity.

It is important that the K community gives everyone a chance to practice their faith freely. These students simply want to help. They are not harming anyone.

The participants are practicing their religion in a way that resonates with them, and I do not think that it deserves any negativity. This religious stu-org is not trying to be a “white savior”, but wanting to expand and deepen their religious faith and practices by offering services that they would be willing to do for anyone or any charity.

CON

By Emily Pizza

You’ve seen it on at least one friend’s Facebook profile picture:  the young, white girl smiling happy with three brown children surrounding her.  Of course, she went abroad to spread the word of God and use her faith to help these communities.

So, with her cape draping behind her and a giant “WS” plastered on her chest, white women like her have traveled across continents to save the world.

As a white person, I can admit that mission trips, similar to the one the Fellowship of Christian Students is going on, were something I used to consider valiant. However, looking deeper into the process shows how problematic these trips can be.

Not only is participating in these events unhelpful for lasting change, but it is also incredibly racist.

While at first glance these people seem to be doing great deeds for the world, in reality, they are part of a destructive unit known as volunteerism, perpetuated by the white savior complex.

The white savior complex is this idea that white people have an obligation to go to foreign countries and save all of the black and brown children from the lives they were born into.

Volunteerism is a large industry, consisting of 1.6 million volunteers, most of whom are 20- to 25-year-old women, spending approximately $2 billion a year, according to an NPR article.

The combination of these two concepts provides white women with a chance to convince themselves they are being charitable and caring, when instead they are doing more harm than good.

Instead of providing any lasting help for these communities, they leave a few weeks later with a few pictures and no true change. These trips are used by white people, typically unintentionally, to feed their perceived superiority complex over the POC community.

If these people really wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children, then providing financial aid to not-for-profit organizations on the ground or facilitating programs to raise awareness are where they are best suited.

This way, the countries themselves can organize the change, not be pushed there by the colonialist ideas of the white savior.

We as white people need to stop looking at mission trips as a way to use our privilege to benefit the black and brown community, when in reality the trip is all for us.

White volunteers: take off the capes, open your eyes, and realize that going to Ecuador for a week is not charitable, but instead is perpetuating the idea that white people are here to save the day.

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Two Sides to the FCS Mission Trip