GHHS students reflect on humanitarian trip

Krystle Wagner • May 1, 2017 at 10:00 AM

After a week-long trip in Central America, four Grand Haven High School students said they walked away with a new global perspective.

GHHS freshman Kendall Crebassa, senior Madisyn Miller, junior Megan McCarthy and junior Sofia DiLoreto were among 75 people who went on trip to Talnique, El Salvador. While part of the Rotary and school’s Interact Club trip, the group built houses in the village, met residents and visited nearby sites.

Miller, 18, said she went on the trip as a way to learn about other cultures because it helps people grow, and it can be helpful when considering what path to take in the future.

Visiting other cultures and meeting new people is a way to gain an understanding of what’s happening around the world, and it can help people decide what they want to do about it, DiLoreto said.

McCarthy, 16, said the trip provided the chance to immerse herself in a culture unlike her own. She called it a “huge culture shock.”

“I’m happy I did it,” she said.

McCarthy said her favorite aspect of the trip was visiting the school because it was clear that the students had a passion for learning and they were curious.

Although there are many differences between the United States and El Salvador, DiLoreto said she was surprised with the similarities — Burger King, moody teenagers and students wanting to take selfies with them.

Since McCarthy studied Spanish for three years, she understood a lot of what the people were saying and helped translate. DiLoreto said her experiences with her grandmother speaking Spanish also helped her during the trip.

Regardless of language barriers, Miller said she enjoyed interacting with people her age from another country. Crebassa, 15, said she enjoyed making new friends and bonding with her roommates from other schools.

In addition to helping build homes, the group also visited the Mayan Ruins and a black sand beach.

Throughout the trip, DiLoreto became friends with a 7-year-old boy who lived in the village. DiLoreto worked on the house next to the young boy's home. On the last day they worked there, DiLoreto said he hugged her and said he loves her.

As they worked in the village, Miller said it was amazing to see the people express how grateful and thankful they were for the visitors.

The trip left a lasting impression on McCarthy. By visiting the Central American country and getting to know some of its residents, McCarthy said it made her realize how she should treat her life because the people in the village would be grateful to have a fraction of what she has, especially when it comes to food.

DiLoreto said she would someday like to return.

“I feel like I haven’t had enough time to digest (all the experiences),” she said.

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