"I think this trip has been defined by things I never would have thought would happen. I’ve learned humility both in realizing how fortunate I am in the visits to mud huts that people call home, to learning that my preconceptions about the trip would be false. Now as a graduate of St. Peter’s I didn’t think I would be able to connect with the rising seniors and juniors who I had limited to no interaction with before, but I was in ways that have truly helped me grow. I never would have thought that I would be able to connect to the residents here when I didn’t speak their language, much less be able to teach a high school girls’ English class. I didn’t think this trip would be anything more than lots of manual labor like the other service I’ve done, but instead it was so much more. My preconceptions about this trip were wrong, but instead of ruining the experience, it made it that much more influential to me."
"It’s hard to try and summarize everything I’ve taken away from this trip because it’s been such an eventful experience. But one specific thing that I took away was how the kids here in Ecuador made the best out of what they were given. These children are out in the streets working at the age of 3 just to help their family run the household. They attend school because they understand how crucial an education is. And on top of all of that they always have a smile on. How they find a way to bring laughter and joy into their lives on top of working day and night is remarkable. These kids made me realize that life’s not all about working and material things, it’s about finding the laughter and joy that is all around but goes unnoticed by many."
"Over my two weeks here in Ecuador, I have seen and experienced a lot, all of which I will remember and cherish forever. Although most of these experiences were great, some came as a difficulty to me. I was faced with challenges that I had previously never encountered. Some included overcoming a language barrier, seeing people living in poverty, and helping to build a house. My time here has taught me to obtain many attributes that I could have only dreamed of before coming to Ecuador. I feel I have gained a strong sense of humility and appreciation. Though it will be much harder to have the same humility and appreciation at home in the states, I with try to live with the values I learned here. I hope these values will help me improve relationships, whether it is with family, friends, or even a stranger upon my return."
"Camaraderie, Service, and Appreciation are a few of the many lessons I have learned in these last two weeks. Before this trip I always had the intentions of helping others, but I often found myself reluctant to act. More importantly, I never conceived the idea of working outside of my comfort zone. In these last two weeks I have truly stood in solidarity with my fellow classmates and with those here who were in need of so much affection and attention. Whether it was in the minga or in the classrooms where we taught children and adults, the value of service and its effects have become apparent to me. The spirit of welcome and of community was widespread while here, and it is evident that it has spread to our group. I, as well as the group, have learned the true essentials of life. Material possessions were lacking in the families we encountered here, yet they all had an overwhelming sense of love, hope, and joy. I will appreciate much more what my family does for me for they sacrifice so much to have a life that compared to the children’s lives here is like royalty. These families have helped me realize that all one needs to experience true joy in life is company, and if one does not have company it is the job for someone else to lend that helping hand and be company."
"The most important thing I am going to take away from this week is the desire to become more childlike. What I encountered here were the words of the Gospel when Jesus talks about the need to become innocent like a child. Besides the fact that I learned a good amount of Spanish from these young children, I also learned how to become more humble and more joyous. When I did not have the energy to give my all, I just needed to talk to one of the students of the Center to become reinvigorated. By seeing God in their laughter, their hopefulness and their faces, I know what I need to do to become Christ-like in my own life."
-Mr. John Kilroy
"It’s difficult for me to try to sum up such a fulfilling and rewarding experience. These two weeks in Ecuador have filled me with many emotions and brought many things to my attention. This trip allowed me to see what the most important things in life are. Although the children here live in intense poverty, they live with hope and a lively, joyful spirit. It was an incredible thing to witness; the innocence and happiness of the children was remarkable. I was able to see where they lived and it made me think about how fortunate I am. I sometimes take what I have for granted, and this experience made me realize that. All of the families involved with the center work extremely hard, and it’s very motivating for me. I will take this experience with me and try to live my life with the child-like joy exhibited here."
"This experience is certainly something that I will always remember. It is very difficult to sum up everything we have done during the course of this trip. I saw some pretty memorable things while we were here. I saw little kids working in the streets selling bracelets or shining shoes. I saw little one-room shacks that house up to eight people. Seeing these things will certainly allow me to greater appreciate what I have. I really enjoyed working with the children here at the center. Even though I didn’t speak their language, I was able to communicate with them as if I could. I enjoyed playing soccer with them as well as giving them piggy-back rides until I was completely exhausted. I got the inspiration to do all of this from the amazing volunteers here at the center. They work with these children almost every day and always give 100%. I will never forget this experience and I hope it will have an everlasting effect on me."
"The experience that these two weeks presented us was one that we will all look back on for a very long time. For me these two weeks were about what we could take back to our own homes. Throughout this week I saw God in everything I did, and through God’s presence I tried to carry out my faith. I saw houses that I would have never believe someone lived in, and I saw three year old children walking the streets looking to shine shoes for a quarter. This had an everlasting effect on my life and what my attitude is toward the people that I know. The most important thing about this trip to me is what I will bring to the United States. On this journey I learned from my friends and I learned from the children of Ecuador. I hope to bring this experience home and spread the love that I felt here. I will never forget this experience and I hope that I will carry out the promise that I have made God."
"This time in Ecuador has been a great experience that has made a huge impact on my life. I never believed that I would be able to see such hope in people who live in such great poverty. Each time I played soccer or helped teach a class, I couldn’t believe that such happy and loving children could live in the small huts and shacks that we saw in the barrios. I will never forget the hope that each Ecuadorian child had despite their terrible living situations. They were welcoming to us despite a language barrier, and they always had smiles on their faces. My experience has taught me to appreciate the gifts that I have been given. Living in the United States and having the opportunity to go to a school like St. Peter’s is a gift that these children will never experience, and my time in Ecuador has taught me to appreciate everything that God has blessed me with. I will never forget these children, and they have inspired me to try to become as open and loving as they are."
"Throughout our time in Ecuador, a concept that I learned in my Christian Ethics class this year continued to come to mind. At one point in the year, we were taught the meaning of living in solidarity with others, of recognizing the specific living conditions of others as unacceptable for our fellow human brothers. Understandably, this topic was difficult to grasp at the time. As a teenage guy living in the small suburban town of Rutherford, it seemed impossible that such conditions could exist. This trip definitely helped open my eyes. Visiting Los Barrios and witnessing the plights of the poor were painful to experience. At the time I was overwhelmed with feelings of anger, distress, and even guilt. Yet I leave this place not downtrodden but filled with hope. This trip to Ecuador provided us with experiences that allowed us to see the hardships that others are experiences but also with stories of promise. On our last night here, I consider myself a worker of God. I was able to see Him in the laughter of the children, in the desire to learn of parents coming to night classes, and in the dedication of the volunteers who have spent countless hours trying to better the lives of these people. One of the many lessons that this place has taught me is that understanding such hope comes only with living in true solidarity."
"Volunteering with the Working Boys Center enabled me to witness very real poverty, and it was in those moments that I think I learned to more readily see Chris at work with and present in the poor. In desolate neighborhoods, in the classroom interaction with local children, in the folks who commit their lives to the WBC I saw love at work in the world. I was astonished, pretty consistently during our two weeks, by the amount of hope present in the families served by the Working Boys Center. I learned while I was here. People, who on the surface had nothing to give, taught me how to live and love authentically. School children who wore the same clothes day in and day out greeted us with smiles and hugs; their parents welcomed us into their homes – and into their lives – with such openness that the poverty (though real and present) didn’t grab my focus. The hope they shared with us did. I came to Quito to lead; I head back to the U.S. having done more following – and I’m a better man because of it."
-Mr. Ryan Heffernan