One Woodland Christian High School student is considering apprenticing with someone in the Dominican Republic, while another decided on a future university path to help people in difficult situations during a recent service trip to Puerto Plata.
These are just some of the ways the trip has made an impact on students’ lives, says teacher Scott Kooy, who was one of three staff members on the Grade 12 Jan. 24-31 trip.
The journey was arranged with Nexo Ministries, a non-profit organization that generates transformational mission partnerships through exposure, education and engagement.
Oto Perez, Nexo co-founder, says the organization tries to provide moments and spaces to connect students with missionaries and local workers who are making a difference.
“We facilitate cross-cultural experiences with people by connecting them to organizations or ministries that are on the ground and exposing the kids to a culture,” says Perez.
Kooy says the trip offered a bit of everything, as the students served in different ways throughout the week.
The students went to a hospital ministry delivering hygiene packs to patients. Kooy says it was an eye-opener, as the patients have to bring their own bedding, food, and have a family member with them at all times.
Students could speak with patients through an interpreter, and during their time they witnessed three or four patients become a Christian, says Kooy.
Other activities included visiting a local Christian school, attending church services, playing sports with a local youth group and cleaning up on a house-building project in Aguas Negres.
Student Nicole Kabala says the trip was a “life-changing experience,” and though it’s hard to choose a favourite moment one that stands out is interacting with children in Aguas Negres.
“As our first outing of the week, it was a quick eye-opener to how much we take for granted here in Canada,” she says.
“By the end this outing each of us had at least one child in our arms and one holding our hand. I will never forget the feeling of the little girl I was holding snuggling her little face into mine.”
Woodland’s mission is “is to equip our students for lives of Christian faith and service,” and Kooy says this type of trip is a way for students to become global citizens and see injustices and different cultures first-hand.
In addition to changing students’ lives, Kooy notes they have also made a difference in the lives of people they met in the Dominican Republic.
Kabala says she saw things on the trip that she has heard of but never witnessed.
“It has truly taught me to appreciate the things I have been blessed with that I too often took for granted. Furthermore, it has definitely inspired me to take more interest in organizations within my own community which provide aid to those less fortunate than I,” she says.
Woodland Christian High School organizes two service trips each year for Grade 12 students.