Frequently Asked Questions about Friends Across Borders
Several of these questions have been asked from people who have inquired or participated in our programs. Please send other questions you have so we can add them to the list.
A. General Questions for any Friends Across Borders, FAB program
Q. What will we do in a FAB program?
A. FAB provides more than a short, hands-on service experience. We provide opportunities for engagement and interaction with communities. Our participants meet and learn from local people and grassroots groups. We provide a variety of activities such as lectures, liturgical celebrations, artistic and other community events and celebrations, and time for reflection. We focus on getting to know the culture, the reality, and the people Maryknoll Lay Missioners serves as well getting to know about the lives and works of MKLM missioners through visits to their ministry projects.
Q. You mention Maryknoll Lay Missioners projects. What type of projects?
A. Maryknoll Lay Missioners serves in a variety of ministries and services to the poor. We work in health specific programs such as primary health care, mental health, health education and rehabilitation, nutrition; education, formal and informal; sustainable development, leadership training, promotion of women and children, ecology, legal assistance and a variety of pastoral works. Getting to know the variety of ministry projects Maryknoll Lay Missioners are involved in is a rich experience.
Q. Will we serve in one or more of these projects?
A. As Maryknoll Lay Missioners we commit ourselves to three full years of service after 8 months of preparation. We know that service requires a longer commitment. We consider these immersion/service-learning and short-term mission experiences as a “taste of mission”. We share with you our experience and work by providing an opportunity for you to interact and meet the communities MKLM serves.
Q. What does spirituality have to do with the Immersion, Service Learning or Short-term Mission?
A. We've witnessed again and again, that when we receive the warmth and hospitality of people living in conditions of poverty, and sharing with us their lives and faith perspective, we experience both deep gratitude for what we have at home and also a deep connection with the people who have helped us discover that knowledge of God's goodness. This is an opportunity for spiritual growth.
Q. Do the local people get anything out of the encounter with us?
A. People who have been working in this field continue to "sit with" this question. It's a question which must always remain in the forefront during our trips. People we've visited thank us for coming to visit them as much as we thank them for hosting us and opening their lives to us. When we have asked members of the visiting communities what message they had for us. They said, "Well it's a message of friendship. We are all sons and daughters of God and we just have to find ways to eliminate these barriers which separate us." We are committed to relationships of mutuality. Friendship implies a commitment to each other which is expressed in concrete ways. We hope that our trip participants will discover ways to stay connected with Maryknoll Lay Missioners and the people we serve. We also hope that the Spirit will guide each in a life response to work for more improved conditions of life and overcome poverty for all people in the world.
Q. Do I have to be Catholic to join FAB programs?
A. No. Friends Across Borders is open to people of all faiths and denominations. However, it is important to understand that Maryknoll Lay Missioners is a Roman Catholic missionary organization and some of the trip components are based on the Maryknoll charisma, Catholic Social Teaching and Catholic liturgy and prayer forms. All are welcome!
Q. Where are the overseas sites where FAB experiences are developed?
A. The overseas sites are the six regions where MKLM lives and serves: Kenya and Tanzania in Africa, Cambodia in Asia and Bolivia, El Salvador and Brazil in Latin America.
Q. Is language a requirement?
A. It is not necessary to know the local language for the immersion trips but of course it is a plus. Translation is always provided. Basic skills in language are required if you are part of a Service Learning group or if you do a short-term volunteer/discernment experience.
Q. Is there an age limitation?
A. Yes, Immersion Trips are designed for adults, 21 and older. However, families with children of 10 yrs. and up are also invited as a long as the parents participate. Service Learning trips are designed for college students, teachers and chaperons. Short-term volunteers/discernment experiences are designed on a case-by-case and children will be invited only to places where there are families in mission.
Q. Do I have to be a United States citizen to participate in the FAB programs?
A. Yes, you need to be an American citizen or a US resident to participate in FAB programs.
Q. What is my financial obligation?
A. You are responsible for your transportation to the country (planning, scheduling and purchasing) and the in country package cost. All expenses while you are in the country; room and board, travel, cultural presentations, etc. are included in the in country package costs.
Q. Is the cost of the program tax-deductible?
A. No, the cost charged is a service fee and it is not tax-deductible.
Q. Do you provide scholarships?
A. No. Maryknoll Lay Missioners doesn’t have scholarship funds available.
Q. How may I support Friends Across Borders ministry?
A. FAB accepts multiple forms of support including promotion of the trips, presentations, church talks, and financial support. The most consistent way of supporting Maryknoll Lay Missioners is to become a sponsor. This signifies signing up for an on-going debit donation with the amount and frequency of your choice.
Q. Is my gift tax-deductible?
A. All financial gifts are fully tax-deductible according to IRS regulations. Maryknoll Lay Missioners will provide you with an annual tax letter.
Q. What immunizations are required?
A. Each country has its own specific requirements. We suggest that you contact CDC or your own physician and/or a travel doctor to check the required immunizations.
Q. Can I get a certificate or a letter for my participation in a FAB program?
A. To obtain a certificate or letter, contact the FAB manager and a certificate or letter will be provided. In previous years the Mission Office of an archdiocese coordinated a program of college credits for teachers from a local college who participated in a specific Immersion Trip.
Q. What type of orientation would FAB provide?
A. FAB will provide an orientation via conference call. In some situations and depending on the proximity with the participants there may be face to face meetings. We also provide a country and trip specific booklet of information for each participant.
Q. How should participants prepare for their FAB experience?
A. There are several ways of getting prepared for your FAB experience. Reading about the culture, about the specific people and reality you will visit and experience. Knowing the different project’s you will visit or will serve, etc. Maryknoll Lay Missioners believe that the most important aspect in the preparation is that of your “own person”. The person that wants to visit or do mission work needs to be aware of one’s own motivation. What has brought you to this experience? What do you hope to discover or learn from this experience? How open are you to realities that are unknown and different? What type of support system do you expect while on the trip? We also encourage taking a time of reflection and prayer in preparation. If possible, pray and share with your local or parish community sharing your motivation and asking that they accompany you with prayer. We encourage you to write them while on the trip and share the experience on your return.
Q. What are some of the benefits and or challenges of going on an immersion, service learning or short term mission experience?
A. The two major benefits are the Cultural and Spiritual Growth of the person. You will learn about a different culture through art, music, dance, stories, rituals and celebrations as well as lectures and reflections regarding different topics, themes or areas such as education, health, ecology, women, children and other socio-cultural realities. You will also learn some basic words in the language of the local people in order to communicate on a basic level with them. You will learn through walking, praying, eating and working with the local people.
Q. What happens after I participate in a FAB program?
A. There will be a follow-up conference call to debrief the trip. FAB will also provide a variety of resources and suggestions for processing the FAB experience. FAB will invite you to be part of the Maryknoll movement in different ways.
Q. How do I get emails about the FAB programs?
A. If you would like to be added to the email list please contact the FAB manager. She will send you periodic emails.
B. Immersion Trip Specific Questions
Q. What will be the living arrangement for immersion trips?
A. During the immersion trip program there are three different options: Maryknoll Houses, Retreat Houses and Hotels/Hostal. We usually use two of the three options depending where the immersion trip takes place.
Q. What is the length of an immersion trip?
A. From 1 week to two weeks.
C. Service Learning Specific Questions
Q. How can students find about mission activities and experiences?
A. You need to find mission organizations that are serving in mission areas here in the US as well as Overseas. In order to choose the best organization that will fit your needs and values is important to know the principles and beliefs of the mission organization. Check out our principles here.
Q. What will be living arrangement for service learning trips?
A. We usually have three options: Retreat houses, Hotels/hostals and family housing. We usually use two of the three options. For example half of the program at a Retreat house and the other half with families. When the group is too large we will have only one lodging option.
Q. What is the length of the service learning experience?
From 1 week to 1 month
Q. Which colleges and universities has MKLM collaborated with regarding service learning and short-term mission programs?
A. We have received groups and individual students from many different universities: Notre Dame, Marquette, Ohio Dominican, LaSalle, Villanova, St. Louis, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Regis, Seattle, Holy Names, etc. Usually most of the planning has been done by Maryknoll Lay Missioners and the plan presented to the university. The university or the student provides the necessary fund for the particular program created for them.
D. Short Term Mission Specific Questions
Q. What will the living arrangements for short term mission experience be?
A. There are different living arrangement possibilities depending on the country. We will provide family living arrangements wherever possible. In some mission sites there will be a community living arrangement. The final option will be hostals/hotels.
Q. What type of short term mission service can I do?
A. Service includes positions within our 5 areas of ministry: health, education, civil and human rights, sustainable development and pastoral ministry. I suggest you visit the ministry priority page to see what we do.
Q. What is the length of the short term mission experience?
A. From 1 month to three months.
Last reviewed: November 25, 2011