Leadership Trip Experience Student & Parent Stories
Kenya 2016 : Food Security In HungerFree Communities
“The World Vision Youth Leadership Trip was a wonderful & impactful experience that I will never forget.” – Meghan Tennant of Ontario (Kenya, 2016)
“To anyone who’s up for a new adventure, this is the experience of a lifetime. The people you’ll meet, whether it be fellow passionate youth from across Canada, Kenyan youth, WV Canada or Kenya staff or Kenyans who’ve benefitted from World Vision, you’ll meet so many new friends. You return home with incredible stories and you’ll be inspired to keep going, and go harder at every event. And you’ll have the support of all your new friends from all across the globe! Before my trip to Kenya I had no idea just how creative World Vision was. After seeing so many different projects over the course of two weeks, in all different regions of Kenya, I learned that we cannot generalize third world countries, Africa or even Kenya. One project is not the answer to every community’s problem; every community has a different situation and circumstance that requires a creative and unique approach to eradicating hunger.” – Monica Snow of Newfoundland (Kenya, 2016)
“The youth leadership trip helps you take a step away from the bubble you don’t realize you are in and really see yourself and others in relation to the world. Nothing has made me more aware of both my power to help make change happen and the privilege I have been blessed to have. It will help me be even more passionate about what I’m doing because I will know that it really is making a difference for people all around the world.” – Hanna Lynch of Ontario (Kenya, 2016)
“Before these trips I knew there was things wrong in the world, people were suffering out there as a result of poverty, child labour, and other different social justice issues. These trips turned my world upside down, they changed how I look at everyday life. For years I thought that I want to help change children’s lives by making sure they have access to clean water, food, education, but actually the children and families I’ve met have changed mine.” – Zach Aubert of Alberta (Kenya, 2016)
“Being a WV Youth Ambassador & having the opportunity to travel to Kenya on a Leadership Trip has allowed Monica opportunities & experiences that we had never even dreamed of. It has encouraged her to push beyond her fears and her imagined limitations, and way out of her comfort zone. She now sees situations, people and the world in a whole new light. Most importantly it has created a pathway for her to use her passions & talents to be a difference maker. In WV she has found an entire network that challenges her, encourages her to dream big and always supports her.”- Carolyn Burton, Parent of Monica Snow of Newfoundland (Kenya, 2016)
Nicaragua 2015 : Living In A World Vision Community
Dominican Republic 2013 & 2014 : Living In A World Vision Community
Sam Gu’s Dominican Republic Leadership Trip 2013
For most of my life, I was never the one to think that there was something wrong in the world. I knew that there were people who were suffering out there as a result of poverty, child labour, and other different social justice issues. Sometimes, I would fight for these causes, but other times, I just felt overwhelmed by the fact that I felt hopeless and defeated fighting against these causes. And so, I retreated to chasing materialistic goods. Yet, I still felt empty and admittedly, unhappy. I can’t refute that these things led to a sense of satisfaction but by true happiness, I really mean a sense of joy that will exist eternally – not some fleeting false feeling of fulfillment. This desire to discover a ceaseless satisfaction launched me into a frantic pursuit of true happiness – until I stumbled upon it on the World Vision and LiveDifferent Dominican Republic Trip.
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Ever since high school, I’ve had a life vision of becoming a full-time overseas humanitarian in a developing country, living with the local people, struggling with them, rejoicing with them and serving them. Thus, when the opportunity to travel overseas with World Vision and LiveDifferent presented itself in the summer, the choice was easy. I wanted to actively begin pursuing my life ambition.
My journey of finding true happiness began a month before the trip. Before I could board a flight, I had to fundraise over two thousand dollars, which at times were stressful and overwhelming. Yet, what could be more strenuous than securing selfless sponsors? Having to do it all in under a mere fourteen days. Looking back, I would not have done any other way though because despite the stress, the love and support from my friends, family and community was more than I could ever ask for.
I left Canada not knowing what to expect. As I arrived in the Dominican Republic, armed in a sweater and thick, comfortable, Roots sweats – Canadian attire – I immediately became envious of my fellow Canadian teammates who wisely wore more ‘appropriate’ summer attire. I made the same fatal mistake the first day on the job site – sporting a black Levi’s t-shirt. Pure negligence? I think so. In the Dominican, electrical power tools were rare, which meant two things; one, no annoying buzzing and clattering of drills and saws, and two, sweat. Every part of the house – the foundation, the cement between the walls, the walls, the smooth coating on the walls – had to be built with our own hands. And so, one the first work day, as a sewer pit at the back of the house took shape with every strike of the pick-ax, a nice crispy sweat stain took shape on my black shirt as well. Satisfaction – that’s the perfect word that describes the experience witnessing the house take form from the ground up as we all contributed our efforts and spirits to one common goal. Over the course of four days, through sweat and a few (I stopped counting) Pepto Bismals, we built more than a house; we built personal bonds with the little kids and grown-ups of the Arroyo Seco community, we built lasting friendships with the local youth leaders who worked and sweat alongside us like brothers.
In these few days, there was rarely any dull moment. Whether it was swimming in the ocean or digging trenches or sharing a meal or just laughing until our heads fell off, the ten days spent in the Dominican as a “gringo” or as one of Jackie Chan’s many sons (apparently all Chinese people fall into this category) – as I was known by the local people – shaped in me my personal definition of happiness.
As I travelled from one impoverished slum to another, I did not encounter one child who did not greet us with a warm welcoming smile. There was not one single child (well perhaps except one special one). How does a child who barely has access to food and water, who lacks a bed and rights to a basic education, have the strength within them to bare a genuine smile? What was the source of their happiness, a happiness that seemed so tangible and real?
So, if you are ready to be changed, ready to have your world turned completely upside down, ready to change the world, I encourage you to sign up for this trip. I am positive that it will change your life. Before I embarked on this journey to the Dominican Republic, I had set out to change children’s lives, but in truth, the children changed mine. As the future dawns in on me, I now have a clear vision of what my role is on this Earth. My paradise doesn’t exist on a map – it’s a place where only dirt roads lead.
Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The World Vision and LiveDifferent Dominican Republic Trip is definitely an experience that has shown me the power to change when a community of like-mindedly ambitious and convicted individuals comes together. All change begins with a passion and a conviction. I have learnt that it does not matter how old you are, or what education you have, or what you have accomplished in the past, as along as you have a heart for change and passion to make a difference, you can contribute to the fight against poverty (or any other social justice issue). At the same time, it has taught me to be patient yet urgent. Patient in the sense that change can come out of even the smallest glimpses of hope but urgent in the sense that we have to be the solution, not the problem. Arise, together, our generation can change this world for the better.
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