HIES All Around the World: A Look Back at Summer Mission Trips
If you had the opportunity to travel to any destination and help the community, where would you go?
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Mission trips are a great way for students to experience new cultures, languages, and people. Students use these trips as a chance to broaden their horizons and expand their experiences on a global scale. Many students at HIES used the summer as an opportunity to embark on mission trips across the globe. According to a survey of 92 upper school students, 24% participated in mission trips this past summer, and 83% expressed they would definitely participate in another trip if the opportunity presented itself. With the level of interest expressed, we wanted to investigate what makes these trips matter.
Students discover mission trips through programs such as Rustic Pathways, National Geographic, and Putney Student Travel. While some students traveled close to Atlanta (such as Alabama and North Carolina), others were on the other side of the world. Some popular destinations included Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Romania, and Hungary.
Global Citizenship Program, a class that became available to upper school students in 2009, requires each participant to go on a trip for either community service or education. One student who travelled to an exotic place to fulfill his Global Citizenship requirement is Hoyt Spearman. Hoyt, an 11th grader, went to Costa Rica to build houses in a struggling community. He recalled that his favorite part about the experience was, “meeting the people and learning about the culture.” The hardest part for Hoyt was not the physical labor, but “leaving the people I met and friends [he] made.” Kerlin Anderson, another member of the Global Citizenship program, traveled to Ecuador and the Galapagos. She struggled to strike a balance between exploring the community versus invading it. She tells us, “Even though it was difficult to find that balance, I made lots of friends, and the community made a huge impact on me.”
Although many students at HIES participated in mission trips due to their involvement in the Global Citizenship Program, others were encouraged to go on a mission trip through their churches. A few members of Peachtree Presbyterian Church traveled to Romania and Hungary to help with a camp for teens. Kaylee Correll, a 10th grader, joined in on this trip and said she would definitely go on a trip like this again. She describes her most memorable experience as, “Singing worship songs with the Romanians everyday.”
While many people find trips through churches or through the global programs, others hear about it from friends. Senior Joe Chapman heard about his program through a friend from a sports team.. Joe traveled to Ethiopia to work with children at a sports camp. Joe says “connecting with the staff” was his favorite part, and he would absolutely go again.
These summaries of a select group of adventures do not begin to cover the amazing experiences of mission trips as a whole. Whether building homes or creating bonds with people, mission trips are a popular and immersive way for students in the HIES community to learn more about the world first hand.