Over spring break, nine Waterford students and three chaperones travelled to Kolkata, India.
The trip had several elements: first, the group spent several days at the Hope Home Orphanage, an organization the Waterford has partnered with for many years. Students played games with the twenty-two girls who live there, painted their bedroom in colorful stripes, and taught the girls how to play pennywhistles and how to make friendship bracelets. After our days at the Hope Home, we switched gears and volunteered at some of the homes run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity order. Our Waterford group was split into two groups: one went to Shishu Bhavan and one to Daya Dan. Both of these places are home to children with various degrees of physical or intellectual disabilities. Waterford students helped with various parts of the day: they made beds, helped with laundry, played with kids, helped with physical therapy, helped with feeding. After our week of service at the Hope Home and Mother Teresa homes, the group spent two days in Sundarban National Park learning about the unique mangrove-swamp ecosystem and hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the Bengal tigers in the area.
Throughout the trip, students broadened their horizons as they experienced the city of Kolkata, a very different environment than Sandy, UT. Students took public buses, tuk-tuks, and the subway. As a group, we walked through the streets of this city and ate delicious food of varying spice levels!
Every day, students and trip leaders met to review the day and reflect upon the experiences of the day. Students returned home feeling that this trip had changed them. “I am more aware of my surroundings,” writes HuxleyAnn H, ‘19, reflecting on how the trip has made her more observant and empathetic. “I learned how to step out of my comfort zone,” muses Amy W, ‘19.
Over the course of the trip, students saw evidence of almost all of Waterford’s core values. “I’d say I learned to integrate integrity and responsibility the most,” reflects Colette G, ‘19, noting that being in a small group of peers for ten days requires treating each other with “respect and honor,” even when small day-to-day things can become annoying. Many students focused on how caring became the universal language that allowed students to communicate with children they worked with, even if they didn’t share a spoken language. “My aspect of what it means to be caring has changed because I realize now that care can be shown in multiple different ways,” writes HuxleyAnn, thinking about how sometimes a gesture as simple as holding hands can demonstrate far deeper caring than anything else.
For many years, this trip has used Mother Teresa’s words of doing “small things with great love” as a directive; often those words are written on the backs of sweatshirts and t-shirts, and repeated often throughout the week. This idea resonated in much of our experiences in Kolkata, and resonated with many of the students. “I used to think I had to do something extravagant to serve someone, but friendship is sometimes the most powerful way to make an impact in someone’s life,” writes Amy.
Casey O'Malley is a cum laude graduate of Columbia University in the City of New York. She completed two bachelors degrees (English and Russian Language & Culture) in her time there and studied abroad in Moscow, Russia. She graduated with distinction for her senior thesis, "To The Heights Ahead: Mountaineering as Political Expression in the Soviet Union." Casey came to Waterford School as a rowing coach in 2010; she has been teaching in the English department since 2013 and will be the chair of the English department beginning Fall 2016. She was the first director of the School's Writing Center. In 2015, Casey jointly led a revitalization effort for the School's sixth-grade curriculum with Dr. Luana Uluave, combining separate English and History classes into a single blended Humanities course. In her free time, Casey can usually be found in the mountains: she is an avid climber, skier, and trail runner.
January 4, 2017
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