College Students Help Rebuild Houston - through Intervarsity ServeUp

Even when the world is divided, you can still take action and do good, in fact, I believe this is what will unite us.

This last week I traveled to Houston Texas with Intervarsity's (InterVarsity USA) Serve Up Program. Serve Up is an initiative that was started by Tom Brink 12 years ago that focuses on coordinating college students to serve in disaster areas during their spring break. While it sounds like an impossible model to convince millennial college students to skip the beach, the bronze skin, the wild parties etc. and instead go serve people in need (and in many cases even pay their own airfare to do it) - it somehow works brilliantly. In fact this year over 600 students from New England's most prestigious schools (MIT / Harvard / Tufts / Wesleyan / UNH / UMASS etc.) have "ServedUp" in Houston and Puerto Rico through this program.

As part of my field research for the Arise App - I was invited to attend one of these trips with 40 or so students from Tufts and Wesleyan in Humble Texas - and below are a couple of thoughts from last week that I'd love to share with you.

#1 Millennials are amazing

This was such an impressive and diverse group of students that gave up there spring break to work together in rebuilding homes of the families impacted by Hurricane Harvey. While the students represented a plethora of cultures, races, languages, backgrounds, religions etc., they put all their differences aside to come together and help these families rebuild. They were smart (way smarter than me), and diligent in their work, they got up early, stayed late, they sacrificed the most coveted of all college institutions (Spring Break) to help these families rebuild. They taught me a lot about this generation - that really encouraged me. Thank you to all the students that I had the privilage to meet and work alongside with, to witness your teamwork, spirit, voices, emotions, and action was a beautiful experience I soon will not forget. I miss you all already.


#2. This week gave me hope for Arise

Arise is an mobile app that my friends and I have developed (and continue to develop) over the last year, in the face of many trials, like making an income, wondering whether it will be adopted, and some people telling us we are crazy. Man I thought starting a business would be glamourous! Anyhow, for those of you who don't know, Arise is an app that connects those who need help with those who can help (i.e. everyday people like you and me). I think of it like Uber for serving others, except free....Idealistic, I know, but I believe Millennials and Gen Z are ready for change - they aren't sitting around waiting for politicians to change the world - they are taking action now - and this trait in them gives me hope, and for this reason I believe Arise will be adopted greatly by these generations and hopefully others.

#3 Knowing and Believing

This is probably the most important lesson I learned this week, and that is that we can know things intellectually - and never do anything about it. Beliefs are more powerful, they show up in our actions - what we believe, we will do. As one student from Wesleyan put it this week, "knowledge involves your head only, belief incorporates your whole being...." see i told you they were smart.

So my question for us all this week is.....What do we believe? We all know the world is more divided than ever, but do we believe that we can do anything about it? Will we believe and take action? Will we Arise?