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Starr's Mill senior works with children in Chile

Lindsay Allison, a senior at Starr’s Mill High School, was looking for an opportunity to experience a different culture, increase her fluency in Spanish and make a difference. She accomplished all of those things while volunteering at an orphanage in La Serena, Chile, which is one hour north of Santiago.

Allison found the trip through A Broader View, a non-profit charitable organization that arranges volunteer abroad programs for spring break journeys, gap year trips, humanitarian mission trips and peace corp alternative programs which provide an opportunity to do something so rewarding, that they guarantee those who participate will never forget it.

“I was researching different organizations and this one was very highly recommended,” Allison said.

Allison’s trip lasted from June 25-July 18, which is winter in Chile.

“My summer vacation was very cold, especially when my suitcase with all my warm clothes was lost at the Santiago airport,” stated Allison.

The trip was very challenging at first. Allison found that the culture shock made it hard for her to remember the numerous years of Spanish she had taken.

“I was using a dictionary to communicate with my house mother the first few days,” Allison said.

Eventually it came back to her as she started making friends with supervisors and other volunteers. She worked with children ages 1-4 in an orphanage five days a week for 4-8 hours a day. After her shift she had Spanish lessons for four hours a day, five days a week.

“I would feed, clothe, bathe and play with the kids,” Allison said. “I had never worked with children before but they influenced me so much. I really connected with them and want to go back.”

One of Allison’s favorite memories of the trip was sitting with three of the children she had a special connection with.

“One held my hand, one was under my arm and one was sitting on my lap as we were watching ‘Dora the Explorer,’” Allison said. “They were all calm and content.”

Allison found that she was the youngest among the other volunteers but found the experience of interacting with juniors in college to be very rewarding. She also built close relationships with her house mother and other friends down there.

“I was able to immerse myself in the culture, which I really started to love, and it also really helped me appreciate what I have here,” Allison said.

Allison is now in her senior year of high school and is considering attending either Wofford College or Birmingham Southern College, majoring in biology with either a minor in Spanish or business.

Allison stated that she would love to go back to Chile, perhaps even studying abroad there in college. She is also hoping to establish a fundraiser for the orphanage in the near future.

“It was a very rewarding experience,” Allison concluded.


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