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Mission trip to El Salvador opens students' eyes

By Lindsay Rittenhouse
On January 18, 2012

  • Amanda Risner volunteered with orphans on her trip. Photo Courtesy of Amanda Risner
  • Brenna Fleis said she found her time with the elderly most inspiring. Photos Courtesy of Brenna Fleis

A group of students spent the tail end of their break in El Salvador last week with the Division of Volunteer Efforts.

The trip was specifically headed by graduate assistant Mark Cantine.

The students stayed in two houses, one for the boys and the other for the girls, which are owned by a family who has long since been friends with DOVE and the campus ministry. The students were divided into two groups; one went to an orphanage and the other to a nursing home.

Senior Amanda Risner said she volunteered at the orphanage where she played with the children and took them to school.

"Our main task is to immerse ourselves as much as we can while we are there and to let those who we serve really touch our hearts as much as we will touch theirs," Risner said before leaving for El Salvador.

Risner added she was especially excited to go on this trip because she had already been to El Salvador in spring 2010.

According to Risner, this trip left her speechless.

"There are truly no words to describe how a trip like this affects a person," Risner said. "El Salvador and its people have changed me so much for the better over the years, and I am so thankful for that."

Junior Moira Kelly said she was excited to go and meet the people she will be working with.

"I actually learned about the El Salvador trip before coming to Seton Hall, and ever since I've become a student, it is something I have always wanted to become a part of," Kelly said.

While on the trip, Kelly worked in the nursing home, which she said was important to her because the stories she heard from the people were influential and unforgettable.

Freshman Brenna Fleis said the trip was meant to strengthen their relationship with God as well as help people in another country.

Fleis worked with the elderly while in El Salvador.

According to Fleis, she met one elderly man, Ernesto, who changed her life because he suffered from a stroke eight years ago and forgot most of the English he knew.

This year DOVE ran trips to El Salvador and Haiti. Close to 200 applicants were reviewed this year and fewer than 60 were selected for the trips, according to Kelly.

Fleis said she encourages other students to become involved in mission trips like the one to El Salvador.

"I would definitely recommend people to participate in a mission trip at least once in their lives because it opens your eyes to the problems in the world and that we are so fortunate to live where we are," Fleis said. "We may not be able to fix the lives of the people we meet, but it helps yourself change the person you are so that one day you may be able to slowly work towards improving the lives of people everywhere."

Cantine did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Lindsay Rittenhouse can be reached at lindsay.rittenhouse@student.shu.edu. 


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