By Bess Murad and Sophia Ferlenda
El Salvador: A life changing experience for some Jamesville-Dewitt High School students. This February break, students will once again depart for the annual trip to the third world country. Students in 11th grade and above from schools around the area are eligible for this opportunity. J-DHS students will travel with about 90 students in total from Christian Brothers Academy, Fayetteville-Manlius and Bishop Grimes.
This life changing trip is not the only oppurtunity for students to volunteer and make a difference. This year Spanish National Honor Society is collecting medical supplies that will be sent with the students to be used in the clinics in El Salvador. Starting on Monday, Feb. 2, through Friday, Feb. 6 supplies will be collected around the school during homeroom. A list of supplies that are needed will be posted in homerooms. The supplies will be collected by juniors and packed on Sunday, Feb. 8 and sent to El Salvador. Donating to this cause is a great way to give back and affect the lives of others.
The hard work begins even before they get to the country because students must raise $1,500 each to fund their trip. Students must raise this money either through fundraising or pay the fee themselves. Students in the past have sold homemade bracelets, or rings, or put on bottle drives to raise money. Often students send letters explaining the cause and family members as well as close friends donate money.
Once they have the money raised, students are given the choice to volunteer in three different fields while they are there: manual labor, helping with kids and/or working in the clinic. Junior Chloe Hayward is a first-year member on this trip and is “looking forward to doing a mixture of all three.” Students who have gone in past years have found all fields enjoyable.
The manual labor aspect of the trip includes building chicken coops, houses and town buildings. Last year’s building project was a school for the town, which the children were very excited about.
Senior Emily Hauser chose to work with the kids last year and loved it. Students who choose to work with kids get to go into their schools and help them learn, draw with them, play soccer and play other games. This is Hauser’s favorite part of the trip because she felt teaching the kids was “very rewarding.” One of the main reasons that junior Emily Firmans is attending the trip is to meet and interact with kids from another culture.
The clinic is the last of the three options where students can spend their time during this trip. Students will help take names, bandage wounds and take the temperature of patients, which will help make the clinic run smoothly. Hayward believes “even though we aren’t doing anything serious, we are still making a difference.”
The feeling students get while in El Salvador is one of the main things that drive students to attend this amazing trip. “It is an eye-opening experience, (because) it makes us realize how much we really do have,” Hauser said. Phillips is not only excited to help others, but also to step outside of her comfort zone. Speaking to people in a second language, staying in unpleasant conditions and working on labor projects are all things that students would never experience staying in Syracuse, NY.
Overall students in the past have loved the feeling they gain from this trip and the reward of helping others. Students that have gone said the trip has created amazing memories and is a great and different way to spend your February break. After Hauser returned from El Salvador last year she was “in such awe at the struggle the country was in.” Hauser and other students who attend this trip will forever remember El Salvador and the difference they made during their February break.