All across the globe, harsh realities and daily difficulties occurring in the lives of many are unknown to numerous amounts of people.
With the economy continually rising throughout the Bay Area, a bubble has been created around the community and the people living within it. Trinity Presbyterian Church provides an opportunity for teenagers and adults to break outside this bubble and travel to Mexico to build stable houses for the less fortunate.
Over the upcoming spring break, 50 teenagers, along with chaperones and trip leaders, will put in a combined effort to build four houses for families without a current safe place to live. All of these houses will have two bedrooms, a door with a lock, windows, a tarred roof, and stucco exterior walls. The foundation leading this trip in Mexico is Amor Ministries, which has built 19,425 houses over the past 40 years.
In preparation for this trip, participants will attend various meetings and events to help the trip proceed successfully. These events include things such as an annual garage sale to provide funding for the trip and team-building sessions.
Kurt Heineman, the pastor of the church and one of the leaders on this trip, believes it is essential to prepare the teenagers who are going to witness this different way of life.
“It’s a very spiritual and emotional experience for a lot of the high school students that have never traveled to a developing nation before,” Heineman said. “It can be a challenging thing to see extreme poverty, people that live on $30 a week.”
Throughout this preparation process, two student interns were picked to help plan, run, and facilitate activities during meetings and the trip. Emily Livesay, a junior at Carlmont High school and third-year participant, was chosen as one of this year’s student interns. Livesay believes one thing, in particular, stands out to her about the trip, and she wants to best help others ready themselves for this unique experience.
“This trip makes you immerse yourself in a completely different culture because it makes you realize how much we have here and how little other people have in different places. It makes you very thankful for the privilege we have where we live,” Livesay said.
While some use the preparations for this trip to enlighten the participants, others see it as an opportunity to build a robust new community.
Drew Schulz, one of the leaders of this trip, will be joining the group for the 23rd time. He believes that a vital part of the preparations for this unique trip is community building, in order to create the best experience for the students.
“It is really important to gain a strong sense of community prior to the trip because a lot of what we do requires communication and cooperation. Without building that community, it’s not as rewarding and not as much fun for the students,” Schulz said.
Students such as Carlmont sophomore Serena Weiss has a similar opinion, as she displays how her growing bonds have made it easier for her to best prepare herself for this new experience.
“We are going to a place we’ve never been with people we don’t know, and since we will be experiencing such a different lifestyle and activities, we should be familiar with our peers,” Weiss said. “Playing games and being split into groups with people you don’t necessarily know lets you meet more of the students going. All the team-building exercises have helped to make me more involved with everyone, and they seem to make the group as a whole more comfortable.”
With the trip nearing, the participants will continue to ready themselves and strengthen their community. Although these students and adults may attend different schools or be different ages, one thing rings true: they all aspire to create a better life for the families they will be helping. As the group proceeds to learn and grow, this common goal forms a bond that will only be strengthened with time.