Dolores, a Chicago area high school senior, received a scholarship from Farther Foundation to travel with The Experiment in International Living (EIL) to Argentina this past summer where she provided volunteer service to the local community and had a moving experience. Farther Foundation provides opportunities for economically disadvantaged high school students from the Chicago area to travel worldwide and interact with individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences. They participate in programs where they are immersed in new cultures and experiences, learn and develop skills, provide service, cultivate leadership potential and attain personal growth.
Here is some of what Dolores wrote for us upon her return.
I spent the summer of 2010 working with The Experiment in International Living. I traveled to Argentina to learn Spanish, stay with a host family, learn the tango and do community service. We did a lot of fun things during this trip. We visited forest preserves, saw tango dancing in the streets, poverty, but also beauty. One of the most rewarding experiences was the community service. The projects included helping refurbish orphanages, playing with the orphans and helping special needs children. I enjoyed all of my service projects but there was one that I will never forget.
When we arrived at Centro Del Ciego we were only told to, “Walk in, play with the kids and leave,” I was excited; I couldn’t wait to play with the little kids! All the kids were escorted into the room to find their seats, and get ready for their bicentennial performance.
There was one little girl in the room that caught my eye. She had long curly hair, big brown eyes and a kind smile. A friend called out to her and said, “Jessica come look at my dress, it’s beautiful.” When she said this she took Jessica’s hand and ran it along the dress. It was then that I realized Jessica was blind. After touching the dress, Jessica responded by saying that her friend’s dress was beautiful. At that point my eyes began to water. I wondered how she can say something is beautiful without seeing it. It made me sad to think of all the things I love that she may never be able to see.
After the performance we were able to play with the children, I played with Jessica. I was able to get to know her and talk to her. She is a beautiful little girl with so much potential, but she lacks resources. She needs a walking stick and an abacus. The center cannot afford such aids for everyone.
Now that I have returned from the trip I feel that I have grown. Going on the trip to Argentina last summer was truly a unique experience. I never realized that poverty and lack of special needs assistance was nearly unattainable in foreign countries.
Since I’ve returned from Argentina I’ve realized I have become a better person. I help out more around my house and instead of just passing by people who need help I stop and assist them. I want to continue helping the less fortunate like I did when I was in Argentina. Since school has begun I have been elected Vice President and I will be using that role to my advantage. My goal is to start a fundraiser for the children at Centro Del Ciego in Posadas, Missiones Argentina. I would like to send them money, abacuses, and clothes. I want everyone to be touched by those children like I was. They are amazing, smart and beautiful–just like us. By working together we can help them be just as independent as we are. I know that I can make a difference in someone’s life; If not everyone’s then at least one, Jessica’s.
Dolores is one of 16 students who received Farther Foundation scholarships this year enabling them to participate in unique and life changing experiences across six continents. Inspired by experience students become active and engaged learners, full of potential and more fully aware of the world and its opportunities. Farther Foundation scholarships are supported by tax deductible individual donations.