Educating and Inspiring… heart, mind, body, and soul!

Guatemala Service Trip 2018

The CDSBEO Board of Trustees had the privilege of hearing testimonials from Catholic secondary students who had the opportunity to participate in the Guatemala exposure trip in February. Clearly moved by their life-changing, profound experiences, the group gave a reflective account of their time in Guatemala.

Twenty-six students from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School, St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School, St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School, St. Francis Xavier Catholic High School, and Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School, along with five supervisors, participated in the experience. The students spent the majority of the week in a village called Anibal Archila, working in the community. Over the course of their stay, the students painted homes, and helped to build a road with interlock stones which will help to reduce mud in the wet season, and reduce dust in the dry season. They also spent some time visiting the Mayan ruins, and the Chichicastenango Market.

The students were impacted deeply by the relationships that were developed over the course of their time in Guatemala, and they reflected on the special individuals that made their experience so enriching and educational.

“Emmanuel, our tour guide, was very kind to us,” noted Madison Snelgrove, a student from St. Joseph’s CSS. “He provided us with cultural knowledge of the places we visited, including the Mayan Ruins, the Chichicastenango Market, and the city of Antigua. His insight helped us to truly see all that Guatemala had to offer, and the stories behind this incredible adventure.”

St. Matthew Catholic High School student Joshua Ryan spoke of how the experience opened his eyes to the world.

“The time our group spent in the community has been life-changing and unforgettable,” he explained. “I felt an instant sense of love when we arrived in Anibal Archila, and I truly found a sense of passion when working with the children there. I decided to change my co-op placement upon my return, in order to work with children. I now have the pleasure of working in the grade one class at Bishop Macdonell. I will truly treasure the memories made in Guatemala for the rest of my life.”

St. Matthew student Kyle Wylie noted that everyone can learn from the people of Guatemala. “They all know and trust each other, and depend on each other. Many of us don’t even know our neighbours, but there, the people are so happy and caring and they all look out for one another. We can learn a lot about the benefits of community and trust from the people in Guatemala.”

The presentation concluded with a song performed by teacher Brianna McElroy and students, with accompaniment by teacher Bruce Ciccarelli.

While in the Chichicastenango Market, the group purchased a blanket which was handstitched by a Mayan grandmother. The blanket, which took over a month to create, was presented as a gift to the Board of Trustees.

“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a positive experience on these service trips. It’s so nice to hear testimonials from students, such as we did this evening from Joshua Ryan, about how its changed him already, regarding the path he wants to take moving forward,” noted Trustee Nancy Kirby. “Every year we hear that from students, and it truly makes all of these efforts worthwhile in so many ways – it helps the communities, and it helps our students to grow.”

Outdoor group photo of high-school students in Guatemala