By freelance reporter Kate Kellen
In the third floor hallway of Marian, there is a mural on the wall that reads: “‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ – Mahatma Gandhi.” Twelve Marian girls found truth in this quotation when they traveled to the Dominican Republic this summer.
From June 3 to 14, six seniors and six juniors embarked with teacher Ms. Halli Tripe and Sister Lisa Sheridan through the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) program.
This service trip allowed the students to be immersed in another culture and lifestyle.
“I went into this trip unable to speak any Spanish, so it was a little intimidating to not be able to understand what anyone was saying. However, the language barrier didn’t prohibit me from being able to make connections with the people,” senior Kylie Champion said.
Even in a country with different customs and languages, relationships were still formed and students were able to develop a deeper understanding of their mission in the world.
After this experience over the summer, Champion said she is determined that it will not be her last. “I already plan on going back during college! At this point, I’m only looking at schools that offer the same program, so I am able to return as an intern or student,” Champion said.
The DR trip contained many moments of silliness and fun, along with the service of painting the local church and gathering space in the campo community of Arroyo Blanco. One of Champion’s favorite memories was dropping by the gym on their walk back from painting the church.
“It was so fun being able to experience a Dominican workout; it involved a lot of jumping and dance moves,” Champion said.
Service and immersion trips have the ability to transform the way a person views the world and their place in it.
“The most fulfilling activity on the trip was definitely playing with the kids. It was so incredible to interact with them because, even though we live completely different lives from them, all they wanted was to have fun with us and get to know us,” Champion said.
When students from the Marian community are able to travel the world and immerse themselves into a culture so completely different from their own, their faith, self image and world awareness grows.