LHS students make a difference in the Dominican Republic

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LHS students make a difference in the Dominican Republic

LHS students gather with local children from the Dominican Republic while on a mission trip during February break.

LHS students gather with local children from the Dominican Republic while on a mission trip during February break.

Photo courtesy of Sophie Karlson

LHS students gather with local children from the Dominican Republic while on a mission trip during February break.

Photo courtesy of Sophie Karlson

Photo courtesy of Sophie Karlson

LHS students gather with local children from the Dominican Republic while on a mission trip during February break.

By Kait Bedell, Londonderry High School

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During February break, 11 LHS students went to the Dominican Republic through a missionary trip which aimed to help those in need.

The idea of the trip first conspired between senior Michael Kennedy and senior Sophie Karlson in the back of their sophomore biology class. It began as just an idea, but quickly turned into a realistic trip that later became their senior project.

After arriving at the Dominican, the group was introduced to a program known as the the Mariposa Foundation which sent students to a school where they helped teach kids, played with them, and painted murals in an attempt to beautify the area.

“The kids who went on the trip were so helpful with teaching the kids English and our mural was so beautiful,” senior Megan Packard said. “It made me realize how different the world is and how many people need help.”

The students enjoyed helping others and realized how big of an impact they could make on this community.

Sophomore Will Heenan saw how he could directly affect a lot of these kids who are from neglected homes, making any interaction with them extremely important.

“There was really no other feeling like the one you get when you see how the kids just light up because you want to play with them,” Heenan said. “Most people don’t understand that just a little bit of their time could be extremely valuable”.

Although there was a strong language barrier between the students and the kids from the Dominican, the students were still able to create a strong bond with the people they met.

“The language barrier was difficult but connecting with people of the Dominican was a great experience,” senior Sophie Karlson said.  

The students were able to communicate with their limited knowledge of the Spanish language, as well as other forms of communication which did not need words.

“The greatest way of connecting with others there is by using a smile,” senior Michael Kennedy said. “The children we worked with had dreams of college they may never receive because of their poverty level, but they continue to learn and smile everyday. So if I can’t smile with all I have, there is something wrong.”

As students connected with others, they learned the importance of human bonding for a person’s happiness.

“I loved forming bonds with people in the community along with the group,” Kennedy said. “Just seeing how happy the community of Cabarete was with so little really put me in a better place knowing materials don’t create happiness.”

This learning environment allowed students to grow alongside each other in ways they never thought possible.

“Before the trip, none of us were very close except a few people here and there and I had no idea what to expect, but the second we got to the Dominican it felt like we had all known each other forever,” Packard said. “Everyone was so kind and supportive of each other.”

Students on the trip learned the significance of human interaction through the “enlightening” and “heartwarming” experience according to Karlson.

“We all realized that we don’t need our phones, and we don’t need to complain,” Karlson said. “The school we went to had little to absolutely nothing, and everyone was happier than here at home.”

Students learned how to appreciate the small things in life that they often take for granted.

“It really showed me that you don’t need a lot to be happy, and doing simple generous things for someone else can really brighten their days,” Karlson said.

The students enjoyed playing with the kids and were moved by their excitement.

“My favorite part of the trip had to be when we would race with the kids on our backs and how happy they got when you’d win and then to just see them smile and yell ‘Otro carrera, otro carrera’ which means ‘another race’ in Spanish,” Heenan said.

The trip inspired students to reach out and help people on a more frequent basis.

“More than anything the trip just made me realize how many people really need help out there and it’s so easy to give it,” Heenan said. “That alone made me realize I was almost wasting a part of my life where I could’ve been helping others.”

Heenan is working on planning another trip in the future which will aim to help others who are less fortunate. Students interested are encouraged to reach out to Heenan or Mrs. C in the main office, as it is a limited opportunity.

“This [trip] can change lives of Londonderry students, and it already has,” Kennedy said. ”I am so proud of everyone who came along.”

This story was originally published on The Lancer Spirit on March 18, 2019.