Students embark on 'the experience of a lifetime'

·3 min read

A group of students took off from Timmins today to do some good in the world.

The students from College Boréal, École secondaire catholique Thériault, and École publique Renaissance and their faculty advisors will be spending 10 days in Guatemala, helping to build houses, visiting hospitals and schools and learning more about the culture in the area.

The group includes 13 people from Timmins and five from Sudbury. Faculty advisor Michel Mainville said they are going to be facing many different tasks during the trip.

“We hope to be building three homes while we’re there, and the students will also be helping out with food distribution, and attending a hospital for malnourished kids,” said Mainville. “There’s also a cultural component to the trip, and students will be taking a Guatemalan cooking class.”

The group has done charity work locally, notably the underwear drive for Living Space, which donated underwear for those in need, and they’re now looking forward to doing more to help.

“Helping out has always been what I want to do, and I’ve always enjoyed having that satisfaction seeing people happy with what you’ve produced,” said Brandon Bennett, a high school student who is planning to study education and become a teacher. “It’ll be awesome to see the impact that we’re able to make.”

Andrea Champagne, who will be graduating from Collège Boréal’s early childhood education program this year, said she’s looking forward to learning how the programs in Guatemala differ from those she’s familiar with in Ontario.

“There’s an opportunity to see an after-school program there, and currently I do work in a daycare, and that’s what I do, I take care of the after-school program,” said Champagne. “So I’m interested to see the similarities, the differences, how they engage with the children, and the activities they might do with them.”

While the trip involves a lot of hard work, the group will get to do some sightseeing, and plans on climbing Pacaya, a 2,500-metre high active volcano, as well as visiting a community on Lake Atitlán.

“It’s going to be a very full 10 days,” said Mainville. “It’s a chance to gain a better understanding of the world and how we live, and the social and economic differences that exist.”

Mainville said he hopes the group comes back with a sense of how lucky they are to be living in Canada.

“Despite the hardships that do exist here, Canada is still a good place to be,” he said. “We have these services, and it’s a relatively safe country to be in, and that’s not necessarily the truth for everywhere else in the world.”

The chance to experience a trip like this was not lost on the students.

“I think it’ll be the experience of a lifetime,” said Bennett. “It’ll be a lot of work, but it’ll be well worth it in the end.”

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,