South gives back: This summer, several South students went on service trips where they traveled, volunteered and built friendships in other parts of the world.

South gives back: This summer, several South students went on service trips where they traveled, volunteered and built friendships in other parts of the world.

HUGS AT HERMANOS: While working at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos orphanage, junior Anne Brennan smiles with a 6-year-old boy she met on the trip. Brennan says she would like to return to Guatemala to see the children again.

Connie Hoesktra and Hailey Hauldren, asst. features editor and co-features editor

Anne Brennan – Guatemala

Junior Anne Brennan spent a week in Guatemala this past July with members of her church. According to Brennan, she has heard of other students participating in service trips and wanted to do the same while she had the chance.

“At this point in my life, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I have so many opportunities possibleto go visit another part of the world where I can really make an impact,” Brennan said.

While in Guatemala, Brennan worked at an orphanage called “Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos”, or NPH.

According to Brennan, each volunteer was given a Godchild, whom they would raise money for and spend time with on the trip. Brennan’s Godchild was a boy named Christian, and she said that getting to know him was one of the best parts of the trip.

“The fact that [Christian] wanted to spend the entire week with me made me feel like he’s giving me more than I’m giving him,” Brennan said. “He makes me feel very appreciated.”

Brennan relayed that   spending time at the orphanage gave her a new sense of what it means to be a family.

“I learned how family doesn’t necessarily mean those related to you, but rather it is those people who are always there for each other,” Brennan said.

Audrey Brown – Honduras

Instead of spending her last weeks of summer sleeping in and hanging out with friends, sophomore Audrey Brown went on a service trip to Honduras with her father and cousin. Brown spent five days working in different ministries, playing with children, and creating bonds with the people she met.

According to Brown, her father encouraged her to go after going on multiple service trips himself. Brown said from the moment she arrived at her first location, she was surrounded with gratitude.

“We got off the bus, and the girls [from the orphanage] were so excited to see everyone,” Brown said. “[…] This girl just ran up to me right away and hugged me.”

Throughout the trip, the volunteers visited girls and boys orphanages, a home for disabled women, a school for deaf and disabled children, and a home for young mothers. According to Brown, daily work for volunteers consisted mostly of spending time with the children.

Brown said she was able to learn a lot through the work her group did. One afternoon, Brown and her group took a trip to a local dump where they found hundreds of adults searching for food and work. While there, Brown said that she met a man named Francisco who had a unique and profound story.

Nate Turk – Dominican Republic

Many South students take on jobs during the summer, oftentimes working at local summer camps. However, senior Nate Turk took the job as a camp counselor to the extreme, working in a camp he helped plan in the Dominican Republic.

Through a program called Rustic Pathways, Turk signed up for a service trip to the Dominican Republic for two and a half weeks. Turk explains that it was the job of the volunteers like him to plan each day of camp.

“The summer camp wasn’t planned at all, we just had the dates and the location so we had to figure out what we were going to do,” Turk said. “We came up with a format, [which was] having four different types of activities a day, and from there we thought back to all the camps that we’d been to [for ideas].”

According to Turk, the four different types of activities were big activities, small activities, education, and sports. The children would go on a rotation of games that fit into these categories each day. One game that the children loved to play was baseball, Turk said, which is why he has been collecting and sending baseball equipment back to the children in the Dominican Republic.

For Turk, one of his favorite parts of service trips is the travel, allowing him to see different parts of the world previously unknown to him, as well as meeting people and learning more about different cultures. While visiting the Dominican Republic, Turk said that he learned about being open towards the different lives and traditions of the people he met.

“I learned to have an open mind because at first, I was like ‘How can [these people] be happy with their [poor] living conditions?’” Turk said. “But you have to have an open mind to their culture and their goals because their goals might not be the same as yours.”

 

“I met a boy [named Francisco] who actually moved to Chicago to study,” Brown said. “Before he left [for Chicago] his sister told him, ‘Now Francisco, don’t become one of those people who all they have is money.’” When he told me that, it made me think that I don’t want to become a person who only values material things.”