By Caroline Darr
It’s a dream for many students to be able to travel the world. Some, like Junior Julia Bell, have aspirations to not
only travel, but to also leave an impact.
Bell received inspiration to go on service trips from members of
her family. One of her cousins lived in Haiti for several years and shared her stories and pictures from the country with Bell. After hearing of her cousins exciting experiences abroad, Bell decided
that she wanted to give back to the world in a similar way. Last summer, Bell went on a trip with an organization called Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) to Ghana, Africa. The trip consisted of three weeks in the West African country with other students from across the United States.
During her sophomore year, Bell received a letter from GLA inviting her to volunteer across the globe. After saving money for the trip, Bell was ready and excited to head to Ghana the following Summer. She and the other GLA members were unsure as to exactly what they would be doing during their time in Ghana, but they knew that it would involve teaching.
When summer began and the group began their trip to the West African country, their tasks became more clear.
“We were each assigned a grade level to teach, and I was assigned
to instruct kindergarteners,” she said. Bell taught around 80 kindergarteners simple concepts such as shapes, colors, and basic math. Teaching, however, wasn’t the only service part of the trip. Bell explained that every day began with an early morning where she and her new GLA friends would “make bricks which would be used to make new classrooms.” In the afternoons, Bell went on adventures through the Ghanaian outdoors. On one of these adventures, Bell visited an outdoor monkey sanctuary where she held a small monkey. She described this experience as the “most terrifying part of the trip.”
Bell’s time in Ghana is paving the road for future service trips. This summer, she will be working in India for three weeks. At this point, she hasn’t been given many details as to what she will be doing, but she is looking forward to stepping outside of her comfort zone once again.
After graduating high school, Bell plans on attending a college that offers a plethora of study abroad programs so that she can continue to help others around the world. Bells plans on majoring in global health and development so that she can later travel and help others as a part of a career. All of her experience and goodwill will hopefully land her at her dream job as a member of the peace corps in the future.
Service trips offer important life lessons as participants get to step outside of their comfort zones while also helping others, Dexter High School Principal Kit Moran said. Regardless of the destination, service trips offer students a fantastic new global perspective as they learn things about the world that can’t be taught in a classroom. By getting hands-on experience in a country, one is able to learn about the history and culture of that country, instead of merely reading about it in a textbook.
Moran encourages these trips, saying, “it’s good when kids from Dexter get out and see the world physically.”
In addition, these trips spread goodwill without a return to the students. Students take these trips based on their own will while also having positive interactions with individuals from other countries. Bell’s trip to Ghana proves to be a prime example of a successful service trip as her experiences there encourage her to continue to make a difference across the globe.