When the 2011 Spring Trip leaves for Guatemala on April 15, it will be a new experience for many of the participants; youth and grownups included.
Maeve Chamberlain, a sophomore at Nathan Hale High School, is no exception.
“This will be my first time traveling outside the country without my parents,” Maeve said.
For many of the students leaving for Guatemala, this will be their first time traveling outside the continental United States. While some may be apprehensive about this new experience, Monae Hampton, a senior at Rainier Beach High School, is excited for what is to come.
“For this trip I am looking forward to the whole experience period. Working alongside a culture that I haven’t really been exposed to and the different life styles we both share,” Monae said. “But mostly, I am looking forward to the bonding that has already grown in such a small amount of time.”
This bonding experience started in the fall when students from various Seattle high schools decided they wanted to step outside their comfort zone and join the Global Visionaries Leadership Program.
Also stepping outside their comfort zone are the trip’s two Junior Leaders, Tessa Thorsen and Taylor Ross. Tessa and Taylor both went on the 2010 Spring Trip and will join this year’s Spring Trip as leaders of the pack.
“Being a Junior Leader is a really interesting experience because we get to guide the participants through the process that we went through earlier,” Tessa said. “We can connect with the kids and relate to what they’re going through, but we are also going on this trip as leaders so we have a lot more responsibility this time around.”
Taylor says taking on a leadership role this time around is a challenge he looks forward to tackling.
“I am learning how to be a leader and how to control kids in a way that is respectful and isn’t demanding,” Taylor said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the roles are different and how the kids will grow from the trip.”
While down in Guatemala, students will be able to join one of three work teams: Construction, Hospital and Coffee. But according to GV Program Manager Reagan Jackson, the most important thing she would like to see the group accomplish down there is building relationships.
“What is our biggest outcome? Partnering Seattle kids with Guatemalan kids so that these peers can interact and participate in intercultural exchange,” Reagan said.
An integral part of cross-cultural bonding is speaking the same language. Reagan says our students are encouraged to speak Spanish as much as possible, especially with their host families.
Reagan has travelled all over the world, visiting countries like Japan, Chile, Spain, Canada, Ghana Morocco, Portugal, Sénégal, Thailand, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, France, Italy and others. But this will be her first time traveling to Central America.
“I’m looking forward to going to Guatemala. Everything will be new for me as well. I look forward to meeting the Guatemalan staff to see how that side of the organization is run,” Reagan said.
Grace McNalley, also a sophomore at Nathan Hale High School and a friend of Maeve, agrees with Reagan that building relationships will be the most important experience for everyone involved in the Spring Trip.
“I’m really looking forward to the bonding experience. Also, I don’t speak any Spanish, so I look forward to learning another language,” Grace said. “And salsa dancing!”
But on top of traveling to a foreign country, working on new work teams and having to speak Spanish with their host families, some students may face the challenge of homesickness. If this were to ever happen, Maeve and Grace are confident the group will find a way to make everyone feel comfortable.
“We’ll all be there for each other because we’re all really close,” Maeve said.
The Spring Trip will leave for Guatemala on April 15 and will return on April 30.