The members of Malvern Prep’s Class of 2012 are wrapping up their most important and fulfilling weeks of high school. Across the world, the young men of Malvern are working directly with people in need, on Christian Service trips that provide an opportunity to apply academic learning to real human conditions.
The boys are working with Habitat for Humanity to build houses in New Orleans and West Virginia. They’re working in orphanages and hospitals in Jamaica, trying to improve living conditions for AIDS patients in South Africa, visiting nursing homes in Peru, digging trenches in the Dominican Republic, and working with kindergarteners in San Diego.
In photos, videos and reflections shared online this week, the students and chaperones indicated they won’t soon forget the impact they are having on the people they have encountered during their service trips.
“This experience has been eye-opening, inspiring, and a call to action,” Mike Arpa, Ian McLarney and Trevor Pinos wrote from South Africa on Monday, May 28. “Today, we began at the Hillcrest AIDS Respite. There, we worked to enliven the living conditions of the roughly 24 admitted AIDS patients by painting their bed frames red, yellow, or green. Though grunt work, we have realized that what we managed to do has indeed had positive effects on those in the clinic. After completing our task, we were given a tour of the facility by the CEO, a woman named Olivia from Australia. Olivia herself is an inspiration. Thanks to her tireless efforts, the clinic has a variety of ways that the patients may regain some sense of their dignity by working using the skills that they have learned. Some knit, some sew, some bead necklaces, and others work with pottery. Finally, we ended our morning with a discussion of the disease that has plagued the nation.”
“Today we went to a school called Holy Family,” John Michael Kay reported from San Diego on Thursday, May 24. “We helped them with work in class and participated in P.E with them. After school we helped in homework club and played some more games with the kids. Today I learned that kids are the best teachers in life. They are always living in the present and enjoying life to the fullest.”
“Today we broke into three groups,” chaperone Jay Schiller wrote from Jamaica on May 28. “One group went with Barb to the Lord's Place again to work in the orphanage with the babies and boys. Jackson Pierucci proved to be quite good with a baby bottle and feeding the helpless young children, and one of the Brothers commented on his technique and caring. Jackson was amazed and touched to find the one little girl was 18 and older than he was!”
“Today was our best day yet as we went to Huasil to repair the village chapel walls and roof,” Jim Stewart wrote from Peru on Monday, May 28. “Our guys were tremendous in their efforts. After four hours we were treated to lunch by the people in the village. Afterwards, we repaired the cemetery roof for the village. Our students are feeling good about their efforts. They worked hard in the heat and had a long wait before they were fed and got something to drink but nobody complained. You should be very proud of your sons. Good, honest work was done today and it gave meaning to the word service.”
On Tuesday, May 29, Jon Heisler reported from a school in Peru, where the Malvern boys visited with a class of teenagers. “When recess started we were mobbed by students of all ages to give them our autographs. Some even sent us friend requests on Facebook. The kids have an idea that all Americans ...are rich and famous, they wanted to have proof that they had met Americans. After lunch and siesta we went on a hike up Vicus, a lovely mountain standing alone outside of Chulucanas… Both the school and the hike gave me a great appreciation of the people of Chulucanas. They are hard working and very ambitious. For them to realize their dreams doesn't mean paying for a ton of schooling at prestigious schools, it means taking what is given and making the most of it.”
Chaperone Nicole Wilkinson reported that her students in the Dominican Republic were surprised to see that, outside of the tourist resorts, the country lacks basic necessities. “Evan Hajas said at our reflection tonight that after seeing what we have seen, we have to remember that we have a responsibility to give back, to help in whatever way we can to better the lives of people in the world. As Americans with a lot of influence, as well as the future leaders in a variety of industries, it is our responsibility to not allow the poor to continue to go unnoticed in the world. Those words perfectly capture what we have all learned on this trip so far.”
Please see below for video of Malvern seniors reading to third graders at St. Leo's School in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.