Hi everyone! My name’s Aideen Hanlon and I am the student leader for the international service trip to Guatemala. I am a senior Communication Sciences and Disorders major, with a Spanish minor. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in this trip to Guatemala last May and I loved it so much, I had to return.
We have a great group this year of ten students, from different grades and majors, but the one thing we all share is a passion for service and traveling. Under the leadership of Sister Sean and Elyse Nepa, we will be traveling to Antigua, Guatemala where we will partake in a home-stay experience, living with a host family. Each day we will be traveling to Jocotenango, a smaller town outside of Antigua, to volunteer at Escuela Proyecto La Esperanza (The School of Hope).
Prior to my trip last year, I knew I would be volunteering at a school, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. I soon discovered that The School of Hope is a very special place. Most of the schools in Guatemala require families to pay for books, school supplies, transportation, uniforms and food. Unfortunately, Jocotenango is so impoverished that the majority of the families are unable to send their kids to school, which leaves them working in the fields or begging for food on the streets. This incredible nonprofit organization, called Education for the Children (EFTC), created The School of Hope in order to provide free education and support to these families.
We have been working hard this spring semester to prepare for our trip. We have met several times to discuss a variety of topics: social justice, poverty, education, and more. Furthermore, we volunteered at the Homeless Action Committee homeless shelter, cooking and serving food to individuals there. We also spent one Friday volunteering with Refugees and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus (RISSE) around the corner from The College of Saint Rose.
These experiences have already brought us together and the discussions that we’ve had have prepared us for the two weeks we will spend in Guatemala. As we are nearing the end of the semester, some of us are anxious about finals, others are thinking about commencement; but we are all excited for our trip to Guatemala. We will be leaving one week from today on Monday, May 11th so I hope you continue to follow our journey!
PS. If you’d like to learn more about Education for the Children and Escuela Proyecto La Esperanza, here’s the link: http://www.eftc.org.uk/