Interview with SAVI Member, Bree Anderson

Interview with SAVI Member, Bree Anderson

Shae Garofalo '25, Writer

SAVI 2022: An Interview with SAVI Member Bree Anderson   

This October, eight of Austin Preps’ sophomores attended the annual SAVI retreat along with ten other Augustinian schools from across the nation. This year’s retreat was held at St. Ritas in Chicago and took place over the span of three days. SAVI, which stands for Student Augustinian Values Institute, is a program designed by AVI (Augustinian Values Institute) to help students gain a deeper understanding of Augustinian values. Students are usually chosen for the trip based on their exemplary leadership skills within their school community and their eagerness to learn more about the Augustinian faith and how its teachings can be applied. The core Augustinian values, truth, unity, and love, are an essential part of the retreat and are discussed repeatedly throughout the weekend. I had the privilege of talking with fellow Austin Prep student Bree Anderson who attended the retreat, and I hope to give those reading an insight into the importance of SAVI and what impacts it leaves on those who attend. 


How did the SAVI trip affect your relationship with your faith? 

The trip definitely made me closer to God, and I think one of the main things that contributed to this was that we were all given blessed crosses. It gave us the sense that He [God] is always with us, and I know that all of the other people from the SAVI trip will wear the crosses every day. I actually have it on right now! We send pictures of it to each other in the group chat all of the time. 


In your opinion, what was the goal of the SAVI trip? 

The goal of the SAVI trip was for students to get a better understanding of the Augustinian values, and our faith in general. We talked a lot in our group discussions about Unitas, Veritas, and Caritas and how we could implement them, or how we may have already been implementing them into our lives. I thought it was cool to hear the other people there talk about how these values affected their everyday lives and how they used them in school. Our group shared how we had the values engraved in a lot of places around the school, which a lot of the other schools found interesting. 


How did other Augustinian schools differ from Austin Prep, and in what ways? 

 So we all did a lot of talking about what their schools did and what our school does and what we could all do differently to become better and more accurately reflect the Augustinian values. Something that I noticed is that even though other schools required more service hours than Austin, they didn’t require the hours to be direct service. I feel like Austin was ahead of some of the other schools in that way because requiring direct service can make a bigger impact than doing a lot of services that don’t directly affect people. It was kind of like Austin seemed to value the quality of the service over the quantity of it in that way.  Another thing is that we were all similar in that we all put a lot of importance on the Augustinian values, but I feel like Austin implements it more than most of the other schools. Like I said before with the engravings on the chairs and stuff, I think we may talk about the Augustinian values more than other schools. And something else I just remembered was that before the football game they actually did a prayer, which I found interesting. And they had a marching band, which is something that we obviously don’t have at Austin. I feel like compared to the other schools Austin is more sports-based, while, for example, the kids from Canada were saying how sports aren’t a big deal and neither are sports games. I just thought it was interesting how different our schools could be while falling under the same umbrella of Augustinian schools.


What were some of the ideas that you guys discussed on the trip and are planning on implementing at Austin? 

There was this place called the Mccarthy Center (at St. Ritas) and it felt like a really good place to bring people close together, especially all of these new people that we had never met before. Basically, it was this building that had a little café, pool tables, and ping-pong tables and it was really nice because everyone was able to hang out there. It was actually where we met a lot of people from different schools because we could all play games together. It was a really good way of bringing unity to the school and so we wanted to bring something like that to Austin; we feel like it would bring the community closer. And we also talked about having this thing like a box of notes, and what happens is you can take one of the notes if you are having a bad day, or you can put in a note if you want to make someone’s day better or are already having a good day.  


Would you recommend going on the SAVI trip for the upcoming sophomores? 

Oh, 100%. I would say try as hard as possible to get in because it’s so fun and you learn so much and I feel like you really do become closer to God.  


What was the best part of the trip for you individually? 

For me, it was definitely meeting new people. And I know it sounds crazy but the friends that I made there, I feel really close to them. Even though we only met them for three days, I felt like we were able to form a really good group of friends and we still talk with people from some of the other schools every day. I think this was a really important experience to get out of the trip because one of the main Augustinian values is love and friendship, which were two things that were definitely embodied throughout the trip. We even went to an Augustinian football game, which was really fun. I just really liked hanging out with all of the new people and hearing about their different experiences at their schools and where they come from. It was definitely the best part of the trip for me personally. An event from the trip that stands out to me though was the football game between the Augustinian schools. 


Can you share any insight into upcoming SAVI trips?

Actually, Austin is supposed to be hosting the 2025 SAVI trip, which is pretty exciting. But other than that I don’t have many more details about other trips or what that one is going to be like. 


Did you do any other activities while on the trip outside of religious-related ones/specifically centered on the SAVI program? 

Yes, we went to the pier and there was a Ferris wheel and a bunch of other rides. I think they did a good job of teaching us but also showing us Chicago and introducing us to the city. It felt like a good balance between learning and also enjoying ourselves. I think that’s another reason why I loved the trip so much and why I would recommend it to so many people because it didn’t feel like we were stuck in a classroom all day talking about Saint Augustine. We actually had discussions about how the Augustinian principles are most important in practice, but we got to balance those out with a couple of trips around the city. Another thing we did was a community service project while we were there. We participated in, I think it was a food shelter, and we mainly focused on packing meals to be distributed to people in need. It was really fun and a nice way to help out the community while we were there.