The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Teens serve over summer
Handing out shoes in Honduras this summer, Tiffani Uresti had a moment of clarity.
One boy exclaimed in wonder at the simple pair of shoes and said that he had only ever been given one other set of footwear. Tiffani, a senior at Mountain View High School in Stafford County, glanced at those shoes which were riddled with holes and tears.
“I wouldn’t call myself a selfish person but when I got there, I realized how much I have that I wasn’t grateful for,” Tiffani said. “I have so many different things and I have so many opportunities and these kids have to make their opportunities and they have to work for what they get.”
She traveled with TOMS, a company that sells shoes—and gives some away to children in need. Tiffani also spent time at El Hogar de Niños Enmanuel, an orphanage run by her aunt, Vivan Chahin.
Tiffani and her 13-year-old sister, Alexandria, volunteered at the orphanage over the summer. They spent a lot of time playing soccer and tag with the kids, Tiffani said.
She returned to school this fall to discover one of her classmates had a similar summer experience.
Shaina Lapolla, like Tiffani, is part of the International Baccalaureate program at Mountain View. Shaina spent her summer in Honduras with the high school’s chapter of Students Helping Honduras.
That group was founded in 2004 by Shin Fujiyama, who was then a student at the University of Mary Washington. Many colleges in North Carolina and Virginia now have chapters. Mountain View is the only local high school with a chapter.
That chapter formed in 2010 and has sent students at least once each year since to help work with the charity’s schools, sustainable village and children’s home. Shaina traveled to Honduras with the high school chapter once, then returned this summer to help build a guest home for volunteers.
“It’s tiring, and the sun is really hot, so it’s pretty exhausting. But it’s also fun at the same time,” Shaina said. “You work alongside the villagers so you are talking the whole time that you’re working.”
And Shaina also got the opportunity to work on her research project for the IB class—her topic is on how gang activity impacts education in Honduras.
Students in the program are expected to do an in-depth research project and to participate in service, said Lisa Renard–Spicer, the IB coordinator at Mountain View.
She said that service is vital to education because it helps students feel responsible for their world, which opens their minds to learning.
Amy Umble: 540/735-1973
WANT TO HELP?
The organizations mentioned in the story seek donations and volunteers. To learn more, visit hogaremanuel.com, ceciskids.org or toms.org. To learn more about the Mountain View High School International Baccalaureate program, visit mvibnews.edublogs.org.