CINCINNATI - About 70 students from Moeller High School traveled to Latin America for a summer service program. Now they're back and putting what they learned to use in their hometown.
“The idea is to send kids over, learn, hear about the problems first-hand from the citizens living there, and then when we get back to the United States where we have resources that might not be present in Latin America, now we can get to work,” said Matt Weisenborn, Moeller Community Service Director.
Moeller students made their inaugural trip to Guatemala, where they painted teaching rooms at a local church. Then the Moeller students were off to El Salvador alongside students from the University of Dayton.
Senior Alistir Lovekin showed the residents a method to create self-sufficient produce farms for the community. They showed Lovekin how work should be done.
“Work shouldn’t be something that you have to do, it should be something that you want to do,” Lovekin said. “Just watching them do it … they’re having fun all the time.”
The Moeller students easily connected with their hosts,.
“We spend a lot of times with families that might be making two, three dollars a day,” said Weisenborn. “This is the case in El Salvador. Yet, our kids make a direct relationship with a little 5-year-old by playing soccer with them.”
The need for service is not just in Latin America but in Cincinnati, too.
“Seeing it here really kind of opened my eyes. It’s in our own backyard,” said Hogan Daley.
Moeller students also took part in a Cincinnati immersion trip that included planting gardens and volunteering at local after-school programs.
“They appreciated us and us being there and us playing with them was just the coolest thing,” Daley said. “Their faces lit up as soon as we arrived."
Whether it’s service in Cincinnati or Latin America, there’s one common factor.
“The personal feeling that you get when you do it,” said Lovekin. “Initially when I was in the airport, I was as nervous as can be ... and afterward it was like, I want to do it again, because the people I met were unbelievable.”