In Nicaragua, students have worked on several community
service projects while meeting the local people and exploring the
area. One of the projects entailed building a hatchery for endangered
turtles. The students spent about three days of their 10-day
trip learning about the turtles, gathering materials and assembling
the hatchery. The program returned to the area the following year
with some of the students who had been on the previous trip, and
they were able to see the results of their work as the baby turtles
were released into the ocean.
Alto students also helped local people build their homes, and
participated in preparing
food for families who had
been living in a shantytown
located in a city dump.
“This trip is really about
service. It’s about going to a
culture very different from
your own, meeting the
people and understanding
and appreciating their way
of life, then being able to
come back halfway through
the school year and talk to
about it,” said Norwood,
explaining that he moved
the trip from the end of the
year to February so the students
would have time to
reflect on it together.
Norwood recounted that
at one point, the bus the
group was traveling on got
a flat tire. Locals went out
of their way to help fix the bus.
That incident, says Norwood,
gave his students a close look at
the mindset of the local people.
They were surprised by the overall
willingness of locals to help
someone else out without expecting
something in return, which
they noted was different from
their experiences back home.
In addition to the hard work,
there was also plenty of time on
the trip for fun, including surf lessons,
paddle boarding at sunrise,
playing volleyball with other student
service groups, and AcroYoga
(a trust-based combination of
yoga and acrobatics).
Based on his observations of
students before and after their
excursions, Norwood believes the
trips can be transformative experiences,
helping them look at
and approach their own lives in a
whole new way.
School of the Peninsula
in Fumel, France.
Valley Christian High School in San Jose started its global
service learning program about a decade ago with one trip to
Africa; it now offers about nine trips a year. About 150 students
get involved in the program, with about 15 to 20 students on each
faculty- and staff-led trip.
The trips, which usually last about 10 days, are part of the
school’s WALK program, which has a religious focus, and partners
with missionaries and ministries worldwide. Depending on the
area, students will stay in missionary housing or in local hotels.
They have traveled to Chile, South Africa, Thailand, India, Mex-
FROM TOP: COURTESY OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF THE PENINSULA; COURTESY OF VALLEY CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS
62 South Bay Accent