This spring, while more than 180 students, faculty, staff and alumni served on H.O.P.E. Service Immersion trips across the United States and around the world, a delegation of 24 traveled to the Congregation of Holy Cross Mission in Canto Grande, Peru to serve at the Fe y Alegria Nº 25 school and the Yancana Huasy day program for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
With some service experience already under his belt, Roberto Rosa ’14, a Biochemistry major from Meriden, Connecticut, was selected as a student leader for the trip.
Having been to Peru on a H.O.P.E. trip in 2013, Roberto felt he knew what to expect. But the experience – as often happens on these alternative spring break trips – proved more profound than he could have imagined.
“This particular trip was my favorite because it wasn’t just us,” says Roberto. “We worked together with parents to build a turf soccer field. We worked with the community, and we finished so much.”
Working alongside the parents and administrators of Fe y Alegria Nº 25 helped develop deeper connections between the Stonehill delegation and their host community.
“What it really gives is a sense of ownership, where they can say ‘we did this for our kids,’ as opposed to ‘they did this for our kids.’ And in that way it’s really more sustainable for the long term.”
Over the past few years, the H.O.P.E. program has been steadily modified to add emphasis to the importance of working in partnership with local organizations.
“Of course we want to be present and experience culture and life in Peru, but more than ever we want to be of service,” says MaryAnne Cappelleri, Campus Minister for Service Immersion Programs. “We like to say that the soccer field project was something that was done with, not something that was done for.”
The overwhelming success of the trip was made possible only when the group acknowledged that they wouldn’t be able to orchestrate such a big transformation on their own, added Cappelleri.
“It was stepping into an environment of collaboration, respecting the experience and expertise of the local people, utilizing the assets and resources that are already in the community, and working in concert with the gifts that our students bring.”
For many who participate in service at Stonehill, it becomes their magnetic north. Regardless of the direction they choose in life, they calibrate their path based on the values forged through such work. The H.O.P.E. experience in Peru had that kind of impact on Roberto.
“It has just completely shattered my worldview of what love could really do for a community, and what it really means to be together with people, to be in solidarity with others,” he says.
A Truly Immersive Experience
A cornerstone of Stonehill’s outreach efforts, H.O.P.E. trips are truly immersive cultural experiences centered on service and solidarity. Follow along to get an inside look at this year's trip to Peru*.
* A note of thanks to Travis Kumph ’10, Fr. Jim Lies, vice president for Mission and Sarah Fontaine-Lipke, campus minister for Community Service & Partnerships, for accompanying our students on this year's trip to Peru. And a special thank you to Anna DeSousa ’97 for these wonderful photos and videos!