Three spring break trips sponsored by BSM

Maria Cass

Students traveling on Benilde-St. Margaret’s sponsored spring break trips will be vacationing in three destinations–-India, South Africa, and Spain. In past years, BSM has sponsored trips to Ghana, Egypt, Thailand and Peru, but India and South Africa are brand new trips for 2010.

Exploring India
Students traveling to India will combine service and sight-seeing over a 14-day period. After their arrival in Delhi on March 27, students will travel to cities such as Agra, where they will visit the famous Taj Mahal and Kerala, the city where the service part of the trip begins. “We will be going through the backwaters, living in a house boat, visiting some of the remote areas of India for five days,” said Ms. Lidibette Guzman, religion teacher and diversity coordinator.

While the service project is not yet finalized, Mrs. Guzman and Social Studies teacher Mrs. Megan Kern are working with a few possibilities; options include volunteering in a school, working with the elderly, or planting trees. India’s culture is certainly a far cry from our comfortable lives in the United States. “How people live sometimes is not related to their happiness in life,” said Mrs. Guzman, citing one of the many insights she hopes the seven participants will gain from this international experience.

Orphanage in South Africa
Exploring Capetown, visiting the prison where Nelson Mandela was held, and experiencing a safari are included in the South Africa trip itinerary, however, the group plans to dedicate most of their time to the orphans at Open Arms in Konga South Africa, an orphanage started by BSM alumni Bob Hickey Solis and his wife Sallie. “We will be in the classes with them, helping them with their English, their homework etc.,” said Spanish teacher Ms. Katie McDonald.

“Originally Jen Deglmann went and listened to Bob Hickey Solis speak to our school last fall, and fell in love with the idea of going there,” said Ms. McDonald. It was this experience that started Deglmenn’s discussions with Ms. McDonald and Ms. Rasmussen and about organizing a spring break trip to South Africa.

Though many students have expressed interest in going on this trip, the group was limited to seven people simply because that’s all the orphanage can accommodate. “They don’t have enough space,” said Ms. McDonald, but she hopes that they can bring more students in the future. “We’re going to see how it goes–if it’s good for our community.”

Bob Hickey Solis and his wife started Open Arms Orphanage to provide a home for children who had been orphaned because of the AIDS/HIV epidemic. “A lot of [the] time when you take these trips, you tend to go down with the feeling that you have so much to give to these people, and then when you come home you realize how much they actually gave to you, you learn so much,” said Ms. McDonald.

Cultural Immersion In Spain
Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Tarragona, the Prado Museum, el Parque Retiro, Segovia, El Escorial, and El Valle de los Caídos, are just a few of the destinations on the itinerary for the 12 students traveling with BSM to Spain for Spring Break 2010.

Included in the trip is a five-day home stay in Tarragona, where a single student is parred with a family to experience daily life first-hand. “I’m excited to be immersed in the Spanish culture and get to experience what it is like to live with a family that primarily speaks Spanish,” said senior trip participant, Mel Ikola.

Unlike the trips to India and South Africa, Spain has been a past destination for BSM sponsored trips, however, the trip itinerary is changed every year. “We are going to different locations, including Valencia,” said Spanish teacher Ms. Mary Windsor, “We have a longer trip planned, this trip also coincides with Holy Week which is a phenomenon in Spain, the most celebrated holiday of the Spanish calendar.”

Ms. Windsor has traveled to Spain five times, and believes strongly in the importance of world travel. “I hope that this trip will instill a fervor for travel in each trip participant, travel has been something that has grounded me and made me who I am today.”

Q&A: Kelsey Jacobson (South Africa)
KE: What part of the trip are you most excited for?
KJ: I am really excited for staying with the orphans, getting them dressed and ready for school, and walking them to school.
KE: What do you hope to get out of the trip?
KJ: I hope to get a better understanding of the African culture. I’ve been to places like Mexico and Guatemala, but I’ve never experienced African culture.
KE: What are you most nervous for?
KJ: I’m nervous for the language barrier, the kids generally know English but they are still developing their skills.
KE: What convinced you to go on the trip?
KJ: I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, the group of girls sounded like a lot of fun, and the opportunity to go on a mission trip during spring break sounded really fun.

Q&A: Mel Ikola (Spain)
KE: What part of the trip are you most excited for?
MI: I’m very excited for the host family stay in the second week.
KE: What do you hope to get out of the trip?
MI: I hope that my Spanish skills will become influenced by this trip, just to be able to be immersed and learn about Spanish culture.
KE: Are you planning on studying Spanish in college or studying abroad?
MI: I’ve toyed with the idea of minoring in Spanish but right now I’m still not sure. I won’t lose my Spanish.
KE: What convinced you to go on the trip?
MI: When Ms. Windsor brought it up, i thought it sounded really cool and I talked to my mom about it, and she was like ‘you should go’ because she went to Spain when she was in college.
KE: What places are you excited to see?
MI: It’s hard because we have such a limited amount of time, but the art museums, art is really important to me, but Madrid, Barcelona, anything.

Q&A: Allison Ison (India)
KE: What part of the trip are you most excited for?
AI: I’m excited for going on a houseboat, going on the safari and going to the tiger reserve.
KE: Who convinced you to go on the trip?
AI: My friend Hanna Albertson.
KE: Is there anything that you are nervous for?
AI: Getting sick, and people are saying that our boat is going to get bombed.
KE: What do you hope to get out of the trip?
AI: Hopefully learning more about that country, and being around a different culture.