Serving across borders: APA students visit Ecuador
Sixteen Arendell Parrott Academy students recently visited Ecuador on a service trip. They were, front row, from left, Emily Angel, Lillian Warner, Aliza Matthews, Colby Tant and Lucas Ouano; back row, Megan Blair, Sarah Bailey, Emily Piwowarski, Miller Andrews, Jenks Jenkins, Ridge Lewis, Kyle Turik, Jackson Crocker, Elizabeth Norris and Ashlyn Crocker. Lying down is Morgan McPhaul. Submitted photo
While their schoolmates enjoyed a three-day winter break from classes, 16 intrepid Arendell Parrott Academy students traveled to Ecuador for a service learning adventure. Led by SERV faculty coordinator Leslie Lewis and chaperones Jim Lewis, Crystal Lewis and Henry Piner, the students worked at the Panecillo School that serves elementary students of the indigenous Kichwa community near the city of Otavalo.
The students focused on improving the campus by priming and painting the entire exterior of a building and also completing a decorative mural inside. They also worked directly with the school children, teaching arts and crafts.
Senior Aliza Matthews, an accomplished dancer from Kinston, taught a dance class for the children, and all the Parrott students led a field day for the school.
“We worked with The Tandana Foundation to coordinate this service trip,” Leslie Lewis explained. “They work with indigenous communities in rural Ecuador and identify projects that different places need.”
APA SERV Society groups have travelled to Ecuador for similar volunteer opportunities in past years.
Though many of the APA students are taking Spanish and chaperone Henry Piner is fluent in the language, it took some confidence and ingenuity to communicate with the Ecuadoran students. They also explored new foods and different cultural experiences.
“One of the great opportunities of this trip is it lets our students see that the American way is not the only right way, and that having less money doesn’t mean a society is poor in every sense. I loved watching our students keep their minds open to experience a culture so different from their own,” Lewis said.