[caption id=”attachment_2732” align=”aligncenter” width=”300”] A group of 29 students and 12 leaders from Quinte Christian High School embarked on a service trip to Halifax, pictured here on the steps of All Nations Christian Reformed Church.[/caption]
‘It definitely does make an impact on the student’s lives’
Carmen Borger says out of many things that blew her mind on a recent service trip to Halifax with Quinte Christian High School (QCHS), one stands out as a divine moment.
When the Grade 12 Belleville high school graduate went to leave the room of a couple who reside at Northwood Manor, a retirement residence, she paused to take a look at photos of the couple’s grandchildren on a bulletin board. Glancing at the photos, she recognized a “dear friend and her four beautiful children.”
“Out of 700 residents, what was the chance of us meeting during my last five minutes in the building? I was blown away and something about it just felt like a very divine moment — God orchestrates things in the most mysterious ways,” says Borger.
Borger and 28 of her graduating classmates went on the trip, which took place June 13-20.
This is the fifth year the school has visited Halifax, staying at All Nations Christian Reformed Church and working in groups at various organizations including Metro Turning Point, Metro Non-Profit Housing, Northwood Manor, Parker Street Mission and Mulgrave Park.
Each group fulfilled different tasks at the organizations they visited such as painting, cleaning, visiting with people and serving food.
One day during the trip two nuns walked the streets with four students, meeting homeless people and hearing their stories.
“It’s really amazing listening to the students talk about their interactions,” says John VanderWindt, QCHS vice-principal, noting they realize homeless people are real people who often others try to avoid because of their outward appearance.
When they were not helping out elsewhere, students and leaders were divided into groups and responsible for different duties each day, such as setup and cleanup for meals, leading evening activities which included a history facts section, shout-outs and teaching everyone something new.
Students also had time to journal about what happened each day and spend time listening to God.
The final Friday night students and leaders spent time talking about what was learned and what they heard God say during the week.
“It’s always a real blessing to hear students talk about how there is a sudden opening and awareness of the needs of people in our community, and some of them come back with a passion to set something like this up in the area in which we live, which would be really awesome,” says VanderWindt
Borger says she hopes the school continues to run the Halifax service trip, as it was “absolutely amazing and inspiring and wonderful.”
“On the service trip, we learn a lot about ourselves. We know that the world is a big place and we know that there is a lot of darkness; however, this trip was so encouraging in reminding us that we can make a difference and change this world one person at a time by volunteering our most valuable resource — time,” says Borger.
While some people feel it would be nice to have the Grade 12 trip at the beginning of the school year rather than the end, there are many benefits to waiting until June. The students are more ready for the trip, says VanderWindt. The trip also creates a transition period for the principal and vice-principal to make different relationships with the students and parent leaders, and for the students to transition from students to alumni.
“It definitely does make an impact on the student’s lives,” VanderWindt says, adding students often still talk about the trip years later.
Borger says while in some ways she wishes the trip was at the beginning of the year, she knows it is beneficial for their future for it to be at the end of the year, as they leave the high school and security of home.
“This trip speaks volumes as to the importance of compassion and really instils a desire for us as graduates to continue to follow the motto at QCHS: Live, Love – Serve,” she says.