It was back to snow in Cape Breton for Munro Christian Academy high school students, from left, Kristen Snow, Ben Whyte, Alex Whyte, Joe Whyte and Anna Ritter who recently returned from a mission trip to Bolivia.
©Julie Collins/Cape Breton Post
BALLS CREEK, N.S. - A group of high school students from Munro Christian Academy flew to warmer climates for March break, but not for fun in the sun.
Kristen Snow, Joe Whyte, Alex Whyte, Anna Ritter and Ben Whyte travelled to Bolivia on a mission trip accompanied by principal Doug Beane and school staff member Lily Valle.
They spent two weeks visiting numerous communities where they presented workshops on intercultural awareness, principles and values to more than 500 students at three Bolivian schools.
The students fundraised for the trip as a group and individually.
Part of the team’s plan was to visit as many schools as possible. They found that the most commonly shared problems among Bolivian students included drug/alcohol abuse, bullying and general family problems.
To help get their message out, the team pulled together a drama in one afternoon that was so well received; they performed it more than 20 times.
“What did it for all of us is we made friends through presenting this drama and were able to openly talk about such difficult subjects as addictions,” said Grade 11 student Kristen Snow. “Something I think our whole team can agree on is that for people our age, it’s super important to have exposure to different cultures. Not just on a YouTube video or a commercial of a charity wanting money, but to travel and learn first-hand that there are more important things in life than having the latest fashions or high tech gadgets.”
Grade 10 student Anna Ritter added that during the entire trip young people would hold back at first, but as time went on they would crowd around talking, sharing and taking pictures.
Ritter described the entire trip as a “huge wake-up call.”
“You see all these people who have absolutely nothing and they aren’t complaining,” she said. “One of the first days we were driving back from Santa Cruz there was a little boy no older than four begging in the middle of the road. Here there would never be a child begging in the middle of the road. There is so much we can do to help these developing countries.”
Grade 10 student Alex Whyte said everyone, no matter what his or her age, should go on one service trip and learn about different cultures.
“For me, it made me aware that here in Canada we take so much for granted. During one stop there were no washing machines, so we used a bar of soap to wash their clothes by hand, something many of these people do every day.”
Grade 11 student Joe Whyte said he found building friendships a lot easier with the Bolivian people.
“They don’t hold anything back, they take every day as it comes,” he said. “On these mission trips you really see what the rest of the world is struggling with in their daily lives.”
For Kristen Snow, it was interesting to see how happy the people were despite not having much in the way of material belongings.
“They are hard working people who willingly share their food and home with you and have so much gratitude in their lives.”
This was Grade 9 student Ben Whyte’s first mission trip.
“Going to Bolivia, I think it changed me,” he said. “The culture is so different, what they wear, how they drive and different ways of doing things. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, they still tried to connect. I think here we should do the same, try and connect and if you say you are going to do something, then follow through.”