By Nicole Taylor – 1851 Staff
Over winter break, two select groups of students participated in Shoulder-to-Shoulder service trips to Vietnam and Antigua to learn about the cultures, teach English to elementary-aged students, and work on personal development.
The Vietnam program was led by professors Anh Le Tran and Margo Lemieux and took 11 students to Da Nang for two weeks. The group stayed in a small hotel a block away from a busy market, small desert cafés, and trinket shops.
The goal of the Vietnam program was to teach English pronunciation to students at the SOS Children Village. “My favorite part of the trip had to be interacting with the kids,” said sophomore Elizabeth Leahy. “They taught me more than I was able to teach them.”
The food in Vietnam was popular with the students. “Their soups and meats are awesome, and this one fruit—dragon fruit, is my new favorite,” said sophomore Emma Witbek. “At first, I was concerned about hating the food, but that was not the case.”
Despite the heat and adjusting to the time change, the students had a positive experience. “Not to be cliché, [but] it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Leahy.
Shortly after their departure to Vietnam, 12 other students made their way to Antigua to teach students at T.N. Kirnon Elementary School. Unfortunately, the weather caused flight complications and cut their program four days short, but they did their best to make the most of it.
“It worked out in the end because since our time was limited, we all really submerged ourselves in the classroom as soon as we could,” said junior Megan Croce.
The students enjoyed the trip and many highly recommend applying next year. “It is an amazing opportunity for all students, especially education majors,” said junior Sarah LaClair.
The trip was led by professors Liz Hartmann and Amy Maynard who worked hard to get the group to Antigua as soon as possible. This was Hartmann’s third time leading the service program and Maynard’s first. “The teachers, school administrators, and hotel staff all came together to help us optimize our time there,” said Hartmann. “It is a testament to the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with our community partners when engaging in international service.”