Prep Students Gain New Perspective on Service Trips

Caroline Casey and Cece Brown

Prep offers many immersion trips, but many kids from Prep have taken the opportunity to do them outside of Prep. Many different programs are offered such as sport immersion programs, service immersion programs, or just overall immersion programs. These programs allow students to see different parts of the world and allow them to see the place they live in a new perspective. Such immersion trips are through youth boards, immersion programs, or being recommended for them. A sophomore Elsa Kammereck has been on one of the sport immersion trips organized by Wowza soccer. It was a two-week immersion trip in Costa Rica where a group of students traveled to different communities to play soccer and do service. She said that the trip changed her perspective on how she views herself and sports. Elsa said that the trip allowed her to have a “greater appreciation for what I have in my life.”

She went and played soccer with kids in different communities who were very underprivileged and poor. She said that “even though they are extremely underprivileged they were still so happy.”

It was an incredible experience for her to be exposed to these people who have close to nothing and appreciate life no matter how much they have tangibly. It is the memories, experiences, and relationships that make life so beautiful and happy. These immersion trips can even change your perspective and appreciation for things that we have been doing and participating in for our whole lives and give it new meaning. For Elsa, this was soccer. She said, “Soccer became something that brought people together without speaking the same language.”

Not only did the trip change her view on soccer as not only a sport but a way to connect with other cultures and people from around the globe. The people she met on the trip had a profound and inspiring impact on Elsa as she played soccer with children that showed her different ways of viewing her own world. One of her most memorable experiences from the trip was when she met a little boy named Alex who she played and coached soccer with. He lived in an extremely low-income area called Sardinal, Puntarenas. The kids came out to play barefoot and she had a great time getting to know the kids and live in the moment with them.

She also met a little boy named Gilberth, who she also met  to play soccer with. She said, “He was really good and super cute and had fun competing with each other.”

These kids that Elsa met influenced her for the rest of her life. She said, “They change your perspective on a lot of stuff and you realize your place and how you fit into everything. I learned to have a greater appreciated for everything, sports, school, family, everything.”

Ben Austin ’21 had a similar experience through a service immersion trip through the Water1st High School Board. He traveled to Honduras this past January for a week with a group of students from Seattle and Portland. The trip was centered around the water projects that are taking place in the Lempira region of Honduras. Ben said that “It’s impossible to understand how important years of donating or contributions have been until you actually see it for yourself.”

For the trip, Ben traveled around the region to communities who had water projects installed and to ones that have to walk for water every day. This trip was able to help him see all of the fundraising that he had done for the board and how much he has impacted people in the world without ever having met them.

Ella Gruen at the age of 11 traveled with People to People to Australia. She said that “the trip made me more aware of how similar people’s lives are across the world.”

She said that she visited a school with children her age and she was shocked at how similar they were to her and her fellow travelers. Ella described herself as very shy before the trip but it made her realize how much more fun it is to get outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. She said that she would recommend these trips because she “thinks traveling has so much to offer both for learning about different societies and groups of people, as well as just exploring and having fun.”

Ella still continues to run into people that she has gone on the trip with. This reflects how these trips can impact people and their lives for a long time.

Overall, these service trips provide a great experience for kids to explore the world around them and leave a positive impact. They also get to learn a lot and are able to see their lives in a new light. They come back to their lives in Seattle with a new look at their life. These trips allow students to see the world in a new perspective and they can share this perspective with others in Seattle.