Each spring, groups of 12-16 Wasatch Academy students participate in two-week international service trips. Recent adventures have included China, India, Costa Rica, Panama, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The program is in keeping with the school’s mission to bridge the gap between diverse groups of individuals by living in a culture of kindness.
Students have helped to rebuild a school destroyed by a mudslide in Northern India, built a playground for a village school in rural Vietnam, assisted teams of scientists in research and protection efforts for the giant sea turtles in Costa Rica, tracked the elusive tiger in central India while serving in the nearby villages, and worked with school children in Peru. In Panama, students used about 4,000 nails and 4,000 feet of wood to create a boardwalk through a mangrove swamp — the only way villagers could get to work. Instead of an hour hike, it’s now a ten-minute stroll.
This year, travels in Tanzania will include building solar power systems, bringing electricity and light to a rural African village for the first time.
“These service trips give our students the opportunity to explore what it is to extend kindness to others, emphasizing human dignity and respect for all cultures and ethnicities,” says Dave Heldreth, Director of Experiential Education. Jess, a current senior at the school who spent time in India, agrees. Her travels, she says, “truly taught me that love and happiness starts in the heart and can only be shared.”