Student volunteers spoke English this weekend, but soon they’ll be speaking only Spanish on an immersion trip to South America.
Ten Summit High School seniors in the Spanish Honor Society will travel to Honduras this Thanksgiving break. On the service trip, students will volunteer at an orphanage, paint a school and set up a nursery at a medical clinic.
On Oct. 12 and 13, they held a community fundraiser event at the Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge campus, filling a truck with donated goods and selling other items to support the projects and help cover the cost of travel.
By Sunday afternoon, the truck was almost half full of bags of gently used clothing and small tables to take to Arc Thrift Stores.
Reena John, Spanish Honor Society president, said after the trip last year was cancelled due to teacher Susan Mocatta’s illness, she is looking forward to going this year.
“I really like that we get to work with orphans, because I was adopted too,” she said.
The trip is done in partnership with Summit in Honduras, a nonprofit working in the country for the last eight years. Executive Director Maggie Ducayet said this will be the fourth year taking students from the high school down to volunteer.
“We really want to make a difference in the lives of the families and villages and children,” she said.
Ducayet said many students end up writing college application essays about the trip. One former student is now premed, hoping to work with Doctors Without Borders, and another is studying engineering to help communities like the one she visited in Honduras.
“Many students change what they wanted to do with their lives after these trips,” Ducayet said.
For most of the students, immersion into the Spanish language is one of the main reasons they want to take the trip.
“I really want to improve my Spanish,” John said. “I’m thinking about minoring in it in college.”
Besides filling up the Arc truck to raise money, the honor society also sold baked goods and jewelry over the weekend, as well as tickets to the upcoming Shopping Extravaganza. Mountain Comfort Furniture, the Family & Intercultural Recourse Center, and numerous thrift stores around the county all donated to the cause.
“It’s a multi-faceted fundraiser,” John said.
Senior Tucker Hackett said the team will also be building bookcases and dropping off donated supplies they’ve gathered such as books and underwear for the children in the orphanage.
“There’s definitely going to be some culture shock,” she said. “I’ve never been to a third-world country before.”
This is the first time the high school students will be going to the orphanage, Amigos de Jesus, Ducayet said. She said for her, it’s great to see the country and experiences through young people’s eyes.
“This generation can change the world, but how can you change it if you don’t know what the world is?” she said. “To help and make a difference, there are no borders. It transcends language — the language of caring is without words.”
To donate supplies for the Honduras projects or contribute money for trip, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.