This past February break, the new Global Studies Program took 6 kids on a service trip to El Salvador. The trip slightly differed from past trips, as it took on a new persona with the Global Studies class. Alexis Toles (’15), Maggie Brennan (’14), Andrew Stingi (’14), Gabe Patino (’15), Arman Salem (’15), and I had the most inspiring and eye opening experiences of our lives thus far. We broke out of the Friends Academy “bubble,” and experienced poverty on a level we had only seen in pictures. The issue was made tangible when we traveled in the country, interacted with the people, and built relationships with families that actually live in these difficult conditions. Maggie Brennan stated, “I couldn’t imagine my last February break at FA with a greater group of people in a greater country.” All six of us students as well as the chaperones, Ms. Reed, Ms. Lai, Ms. Martin, and Teacher John, returned home to New York with a new understanding of the world in our hearts.
The first half of the trip consisted of activities relating to the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) with the locals and with Teacher John as a facilitator. Our group also helped out in an art center where the leader, Sister Peggy McGlinchey is actually the sister of former Lower School teacher Ellie McGlinchey. In the next town, we alternated between teaching English to children and building a latrine for a very welcoming family. Andrew Stingi( aka Andrés Aventuroso) said, “I miss my nugget Alejandra.” We could not have asked for a better experience, and truly appreciate the work the Global Studies Committee did to support this trip to El Salvador.