Service Learning Club offers two service trips

Mr. Robert Friel

Morgan Tropf, Staff Writer

Last year, 17 students went on Mayfield’s first-ever service trip to Guatemala. This year the Mayfield Service Learning Club is expanding to offer two service immersion trips: to Guatemala and Jamaica.

Club leader Robert Friel was inspired to offer another trip based on the feedback he received from students that attended last summer’s Guatemala trip. Friel said, “I remember one of the days when we were cleaning the spray paint off the file cabinets in Guatemala, many students said, ‘Oh my gosh I would love to go on another trip like this’ and they knew so many people were nervous to apply for the first trip. We decided if there’s a willingness to participate, we’re open to trying to expand and include more students.”

Although the trips’ locations will be different, the overall goals of service throughout the trip will be the same. Friel said, “The mission, motivation and overall layout of each trip will, in general, be the same. Even in Guatemala, the location will be different than last year, we will be in a more rural area of Escuintla rather than Guatemala City.”

Senior Elizabeth Fluharty went on the inaugural service trip last summer and is planning to apply for another trip this summer. Fluharty said, “Going on my first service-oriented trip really opened my eyes to how [good] we have it. Although you can see poverty in downtown Cleveland, it’s definitely on a whole new level in other countries especially in Guatemala.”

Junior Emma Elliot is applying for the trip this summer with the goal of serving others while also learning about different cultures. Elliot said, “Some of my friends went on service trips last year and they talked very highly of it and said how great of an experience it was. I want to see how things are in a different country, especially because I’ve never really experienced anything else and it is a great opportunity to help other people while learning about the culture.”

Another motive behind adding the Jamaica trip is there’s no language barrier, unlike the Spanish-speaking country of Guatemala. Friel said, “Part of the reason we choose Jamaica is because it was aligned with the same organization (International Samaritan) that we are comfortable with. Jamaica is the only country that International Samaritan has that is English speaking.”

Friel has been involved in service projects throughout his life and is experienced and comfortable with the area in Jamaica where students will travel. Friel said, “I was comfortable with this new site because, it was totally a coincidence, but as I kid I actually lived in Kingston, Jamaica for a year because my parents taught there. I learned that the site where the group will stay is actually on the exact same compound that I used to live. I can picture exactly where we are going to be and I am comfortable with the area.”

Fluharty feels a calling towards service trips and is excited to have the opportunity to go to another impoverished country. Fluharty said, “Just knowing that there [are] these places out there and knowing that we have the opportunity to make it even just a little bit better for them motivates me to try and make that change.”

Science teacher Polly Canfield will be a chaperone for the Guatemala trip this year and is looking forward to building new relationships on the trip. Canfield said, “[My goals are] friendships, good times, and service. I’ve lived in my habitat of the United States my whole life and I want to see something outside of the U.S, and see something different.”

The application process has been revised for the second year but has an overall similar structure. Friel said, “We no longer require teacher recommendations. We will talk to student’s teachers on our own but that just seemed like an unnecessary because if there are any question marks we can reach out.”

Canfield thinks it’s important for her and the students to try something new by taking one of these two trips. She said, “I am excited to get out of my comfort zone and try something different that I’ve never done before as well.”

Being an experienced international volunteer, Fluharty feels that she can give insight to those who are considering applying. Fluharty said, “I would definitely encourage other students to go on these trips [because] I think it’s very inspirational and eye-opening. Obviously you hear about these countries that are in need but once you go there and experience it for yourself, you understand it on a whole new level.”