Published on Brock University (http://brocku.ca)
I am a high school teacher in London, Ontario and a proud alumnus of Brock University. I have been involved with Solidarity Experiences Abroad since 2007. My experiences as a participant, trip leader, and now the London representative have been life changing and eye opening. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Peru, Ecuador and Brazil with SEA and have gained lifelong friendships, developed an appreciation for cultural values, and connected social justice with my role as an educator. I strongly believe that my experiences on these trips have positively influenced my approach to life and how I interact with people in my daily work. In fact, these trips have had such a strong impact, that my mother was inspired to travel with me to Peru last summer and was profoundly touched by her experience. I strongly encourage people who are looking to make a difference, wanting a life changing experience, or searching for a way to be the change to take part in the trips organized by Solidarity Experiences Abroad – it will be a decision you will never regret and an experience you will never forget!
- Rebecca Cartmell, Peru 2012 & 2010
In May of 2012, I participated in SEA’s education-based trip to Peru. Teaching and interacting with the students of Ramiro Priale and Villa Caritas was a life changing experience for me. It reaffirmed my passion for teaching and allowed me to grow spiritually. I learned to “love the person in front of you.” I feel this is something that can truly be understood by practicing social justice, which this trip allowed me to do. The cultural experiences that we were able to participate in, such as travelling to Machu Picchu and visiting Cusco, allowed myself and my peers to develop a great understanding and appreciation for the rich culture and history of Peru. As a prospective educator, I feel blessed that I will be able to share all that I learned from this experience with my students.
- Kristina Sielicki, Peru 2012
Having the opportunity to participate in a SEA trip was a unique experience. The local people we met were friendly and responsive to the trip organizers, which showed how invested SEA is within the communities they serve.
- Allison Norg, Peru 2012
I can honestly say that SEA has completely changed my outlook on life. The people that we worked with taught me a valuable lesson on what the important things are in life, they taught me what a community is, and they inspired me to bring these teachings home. These trips are incredible opportunities to learn about yourself, other cultures and what makes everyone equal. By bringing my skills and donations I can assist them in living healthier lives while they teach me how to live a happier life. SEA gives me an opportunity to share what I have in order to promote justice in Canada and abroad.
- Rob Smith, Peru 2011
Going to Peru was life altering for me. I learned not only about the people there but about myself as well. The group I went with was amazing, new friendships were made and the support we provided eachother during those two weeks was unforgetable. You get to see things beyond the shiney touristy surface and really experience life. The locals are the friendliest people I have ever met, and the language barrier seemed minimal because everyone was glad to talk with you and wish you well. My favourite memory was in the school for children who were deaf/mute. These kids were the happiest, most polite children I have ever seen. If you are looking to find any sort of meaning in life, go on one of these trips. You will find more than you bargained for :)
-Amanda, Peru 2008
Peru is a beautiful country with amazingly nice and friendly people. No matter where you went you got a smile and a friendly "hola" there is a huge difference that is obvious in class differrence but the progress is obvious as well. There is so much which I wanted to give and I wanted to stay longer and help out. I was aware of the poverty before I went but to actually experience it is a total emotional event. Reality does really hit you when you're there, the smells, sights and sounds. But no matter where you went people treated you like one of their own. It was very refreshing and very different from Canada where people are afraid of each other. The comradery is so much more obvious and felt in Peru. I can't wait to go again.
- Rafal, Peru 2008
Traveling to Peru with Solidarity Experiences Abroad was quite honestly the most rewarding and enriching experience I have ever had in my life. It changes your outlook on your own life, raises your world awareness and makes you realize how truly blessed you are. Interacting with the people of a completely different culture was an experience that forces the realization that the "North American" way of life is not the ideal form. While in Peru I bonded very closely with other trip participants and some children we spent time with. The best part of the trip to me was not the site seeing, although that was wonderful, it was instead spending time with the children and playing with them. The langauge barrier was at first a large obstacle, but I quickly realized that the best things in life need no words to describe them and love freely given is the greatest gift of all. My trip to Peru was truly the best 2 weeks of my life that I felt like I was making a difference in the world, not changing THE world but instead making SOMEONES world a bit better! I strongly encourage anyone even considering this trip to think hard about it, I learned so much more from the people I met than I could ever hope to express in words.
- Chantall, Peru 2008
For me, Peru was a transformative process inside and out. Whether one goes with or without in his life, I now understand this is not a significant determinant of happiness. This trip set the spiritual framework by which I was to regain that lost sense of pure, uncomplicated harmony with my life. To choose, to give oneself to the service of others, to stand next to them in times of material difficulty; this is one of the greatest of human expressions of compassion and more than being excited to go again, I am excited to spread the spirit in Canada, This trip need a disclaimer “Warning: Solidarity May Transform You- Change at your own Risk”
- Daryl, Peru 2006
Solidarity Experiences Abroad was not only an excellent opportunity for me to broaden my horizons, but to grow. It was definitely a journey of a life time and an experience that will stay with me forever. I learned so many things, but most of all I have learned that no matter how many people you meet in your lifetime, there will always be at least one person, whether young or old, who will touch your heart, leave an imprint in your life and have an impact on who you will become. I have come to the conclusion that by just being part of the Solidarity Experiences Abroad Program I have become inspired to keep going and not to forget the true meaning of solidarity now that I have returned home.
- Mary Ann, Peru and Ecuador 2006
My Solidarity Experience in South Africa during the summer of 2006 was an unforgettable life adventure. It was a time of trying new things, eating new foods, working alongside compassionate locals and witnessing South Africa's poverty and wealth often in the same day. If you want to have loads of fun traveling with friends and experiencing a new culture in a meaningful way, join on to one of the Solidarity Experiences Abroad Trips... you won't regret it.
- Stephen, South Africa 2006
I learned more than I could have ever imagined on the trip and I'm still in contact with the people I worked with. I was amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
- Courtney, South Africa 2006
It’s almost next to impossible to describe such an incredible journey of self and worldly discovery; but I will try. I was never sure what to expect, even as we boarded the plane on that very early Saturday morning, I was naïve and oblivious to my upcoming experience: it was bigger than I was. Traveling to South Africa has always been a life goal for me, so when I saw the opportunity, I jumped on it. Leaving my friends and family behind, I braved a whole new world alone, but not for long. On the trip I met so many amazing people who will forever have a special place in my heart.
We all arrived in Cape Town eager and excited. Cape Town is a beautiful city and the people are even more beautiful. We were lucky to be part of a wonderful organization called the “Catholic Welfare and Development”. Through the program we had the opportunity to play in day cares, help out in youth programs, work in the soup kitchen and talk with the people in the community. The children and youth in the townships have experienced more in their lifetime than I could ever imagine and yet still within them there is hope, hope for a better future. The programs opened our eyes to so many life experiences than we could ever imagine. The people opened their lives and their hearts to us and allowed us to become a part of their communities for the short time we were there. During our last debriefing meeting, the group had a chance to reflect on our time in Cape Town. We realized that we are leaving with more than we gave. Our lives were changed by the people of Cape Town and the beautiful city. This trip gave me the opportunity to grow as a student, as a friend, as an advocate and as a human being. We learned that maybe our trip wasn’t about bringing them joy but to learn from them that life isn’t about materialistic things, life doesn’t judge; that what is important is community and humanity. We may be rich in materials, but there is so much we can learn from Cape Town. The CWD has a motto by which they run: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. I know that this was just a small step to my future and I realize that this trip will only make a difference if I continue educating, perusing and helping in organizations in both Canada and South Africa. I recommend any trip with Solidarity in Action for those looking for a new perspective, those questioning their life and the world, those looking for a missing piece to their puzzle or for those who have more in their heart to give and even more space in their hearts to receive; you won’t be disappointed, guaranteed.
- Erin E., South Africa 2006
As far as the trip goes all I can think to say is I met some of the most beautiful people in the world while in Peru, but even more so, I got to watch all the gorgeous people I knew there become even more beautiful through the experiences we had. There’s nothing more that can be said. It’s truly in the experience!
- Erin, Peru 2006
The trip began with eager anticipation, but my expectations did not include the personal challenges that I would face. I went to make difference in the lives of the less fortunate, and ended up returning home a new man. Some may wonder why people who go on these trips give their time, money, and energy to help people they don't know and may never see again- but in the end, the reward is worth a lot more than the sacrifice. What a truly life-changing experience!
- Glen, Peru/ Ecuador, 2006
The fact that this is my third year participating in a Solidarity Trip to South America shows just how fulfilling the experience can be and that once you go, you can’t really stop. I feel as if part of me belongs in South America and yet at the same time I feel that a part of South America is always with me here in Canada. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t think of one of my trips and about the people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen and the experiences I’ve had. Somehow, it just becomes a part of you.
- Natalie, Ecuador, 2006
I went on the Solidarity Experiences Abroad trip to Ecuador in May of 2006. I had a few fears and doubts before I left, but as soon as we arrived at the airport, that all went out the door and was replaced with the excitement about this experience. During my trip, I was able to connect with so many special people and learn [about] so many different lifestyles. We experienced work in shantytowns with school children and ran an Oral Hygiene campaign in four different school settings. From working in the Infant Nutrition Center with malnourished children, to witnessing the birth of two babies, I found this experience truly rewarding. We were able to give love to so many people, and as it turned out, that seemed to be exactly what a lot of these people were looking for. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone who feels as though they need to bring some kind of meaning to their life, because I think I speak for all of us when I say that you will definitely come back to Canada as a changed person.
- Natasha, Ecuador, 2006
I went to Lima, Peru in 2005 and I think about the experiences that I had all of the time! Perhaps one reason for the constant reminiscing is because I study Tourism and I am faced with the constant critical analysis of my travel experiences and actions. It is relatively evident, however, that tourism causes various detrimental impacts and leading up to this my stay in Lima, it was at times difficult for me to conceive the benefits that can arise from programs such as Solidarity Experiences Abroad. Perhaps this is what I have to thank this program for! Travelling to Lima truly broadened my horizons, although it sounds cliché! I returned with a greater understanding of the word poverty, how a culture different to my own lives and I therefore thought more about the emphasis we place on material items, concluding that perhaps these items do not create happiness. These conclusions have assisted me in my current Masters research here in New Zealand as I am researching Ethical Tourism and the influence of Fair Trade. I traveled to Lima with the expectation that I was going to make a positive contribution to a small shanty town called Two Crosses. However, upon returning I realized that I had gained far more than I had given. For this I feel slightly selfish but, at the very same time extremely grateful!
- Karla, Peru 2005
Peru was probably the best, most life changing experience that I have ever had. It has given me new meaning and new direction, and has taught me more than I ever expected… I am very thankful that as a student there are programs available like this to me... To enrich not only my education, but my life as a whole. I hope that this is only the beginning of my travels internationally.
- Stefanie, Peru 2005