Twenty-one students from Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, MN spent part of their 2011 summer immersed in a different culture. They served at two twin schools in Ethiopia: Meki Catholic Mission School in Meki and Besrate Gabriel School in Dire Dawa.
While at the schools, they taught English to students and children from the community using lesson plans they wrote before the trip. John Dols, Holy Family Assistant Principal and Campus Minister, described the lessons as “quite chaotic, but awesome.”
The English lessons helped student Mikayla Hoff realize her calling. “I have found a sense of purpose in my life-I want to be a teacher,” she said. “The children taught me more about life, true happiness and myself than I could ever teach them in a classroom.”
Aside from teaching English, the Holy Family students also helped with new technology at the Meki. With the assistance of a Holy Family parent, Intel donated 25 computers, a recharging hub, two local servers, 12 LEGO robotics kits, and two microscopes to Meki. Two Intel employees delivered computers and provided training, while the Holy Family group brought microscopes and LEGO kits and worked with students.
The trip ended with a three-day retreat where students discussed how they wanted to share their stories with their classmates and how they can help the twin schools. They also reflected on their journey. “This trip of a lifetime has brought more struggles, happiness and serenity to me than I ever thought it would,” said student Lexie Curtis. “Struggling with the kids in the classrooms and at playtime made me realize the culture shock between living in Ethiopia to living at home, and it taught me patience and acceptance.”
Those interactions helped student Emily Pearson realize small actions can make a huge difference. “Before this trip I just thought of just me doing something to help really won’t benefit anyone, but after being here for a month I have come to realize that is not the case,” she said. “Everything and anything I do no matter how big or how small can change the life of many or a specific individual.”
Dols hopes more schools in our Region take steps to help twin schools. He wants to use his group’s experience to reach out to schools and encourage support. “It’s a pretty important relationship. It’s not just about giving money,” said Dols. “It’s about connecting to the schools and learning.”