By Katlyn Kritz
The Youngstown State University group Chi Alpha will travel to Estonia this summer for the third time.
Chi Alpha is a Christian organization that has branches all over the country. However, it does not discriminate against any religions. Estonia is a European country that borders the Baltic sea and the Gulf of Finland.
According to Chi Alpha director Joe Weser, a lot of time and effort is put into planning mission trips.
“We have to do background checks for people who are going, raise money and book flights,” Weser said. “What’s nice is the church over there handles a lot of the on-ground stuff for us.”
Chi Alpha members raise money for their mission trips by holding fundraisers and asking for donations. The mission trips aren’t just a trip for the members to enjoy, though. Mission trips are meant for people to travel to a location and teach people about God, and that involves a lot of volunteer work and religious teaching.
“The trip will be faith based, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be a believer,” Weser said. “If a student wants to be a part of it and there’s room, they’re welcome to come.”
Estonia is not the only location Chi Alpha plans to visit. During the summer of 2019, Chi Alpha is scheduled to go to Lithuania.
“Because our group is starting to grow, we’re looking at a possible second mission trip,” Weser said. “I don’t know if that one will be in the United States or overseas.”
Christian groups frequently go on mission trips and travel all over the world. Weser said he’s been to Chile and Iceland.
Elliott Roose, freshman in musical education, said his church has been going to Jamaica for the past eight years.
“They built a structure down there that is named after one of the people who has been going to our church for a very long time,” Roose said.
Weser said students in Chi Alpha have traveled to places other than Estonia.
“We also have a couple of students who went on our trip last year that have been to Africa,” Weser said. “So some of our students do have mission trip experience.”
Judah Siekkinen attended the second trip to Estonia, and he said he has been to Mexico and Nicaragua with other church groups.
“Tallinn [the capital of Estonia] is a beautiful city. I highly recommend.” Siekkinen said.
He said mission trips open people’s eyes to cultures outside of America.
“We always think that everyone is American,” Weser said. “But we take up such a small number of the population.”
He said when students travel to a location that faces poverty they learn to appreciate what they have.
Siekkinen said that Tallinn reminded him of Youngstown.
“Tallinn is actually very similar to Youngstown. It’s a post-industrial city that is working to rebuild,” he said. “Tallinn is filled with small nuances that are both familiar and strange.”
Weser said everyone should travel abroad at least once in their life.
“If you can experience a different culture, even if it just outside of the context you live in, it’s amazing,” Weser said. “But if you study abroad you can really grasp the culture.”