Foregoing an early June vacation to the Jersey Shore beaches, 10 current CBA students and three members of the Class of 2018 traveled to the De La Salle Educational Center in Homestead, Florida for a service immersion trip last week.
The educational center is part of the South Dade Camp, where workers from many Central and South American countries apply for the United States Visa Program. If accepted, workers and their families travel to the U.S. to work on one of four camps in Florida.
While their parents are working, the children attend school at the De La Salle Educational Center, which is located right on the camp site. Since school has been let out for the summer, the CBA group worked with the summer camp program at the center.
The CBA volunteers interacted with upwards of 20 children who come from families living in poverty. Many of the children experience behavioral issues because of their living conditions. The children had to sleep on the floor with sleeping bags or air mattresses with limited access to bathrooms and showers. The summer camp begins at 7:00 a.m. and runs until 6:00 p.m., tiring many of the children out after a long day in the Florida heat.
Despite the difficult conditions, the CBA students were impressed by the remarkable potential that the children showed during their interactions. Contrary to what the CBA group expected, the children were full of smiles, behaved well and some became close with CBA students.
“For me, the trip was very eye-opening, since I saw how we were very different from the kids socially and economically,” said Jake Grillo ’19. “I saw very much of myself in them. Both the kids and I share the same sense of youthful hope and wonder for the future, as well as a general longing for fun and excitement.”
The CBA students were joined by Director of Campus Ministry Mr. Matthew Butler and Spanish teacher Mr. Ciro Saverino. As students have discovered on other service immersion trips, it changes one’s outlook on life when he sees how others live in minimal, poverty-stricken conditions.
“The enthusiastic and resilient nature of the children I worked with transformed my perspective of life,” said Michael Dora ’20. “This life-changing experience has inspired me to see the reward of service far beyond the unforeseen circumstances that I will encounter.”
For CBA students, it is experiences like this one- spending a week with fellow students helping those less fortunate- that strengthens their understanding of the CBA brotherhood.