by John Houle
The non-profit organization Bridges to Malawi has completed its yearly trip to Malawi for high school students. The trip served as an eye opener to some seniors.
“Seeing the doctors having to make do with what they had despite lacking necessities such as gloves,” Senior Gabriela Batista Oliveira said, “puts into perspective the privilege we have living in Hudson.”
This year is Batista Oliveira’s first time attending the trip, and she prepared for the trip for months.
“I paid the $3000 required to go on the trip by saving up,” she said, “since I’ve been planning to go on the trip since the summer.”
In addition to paying the fee, students must attend lectures hosted by Bridges to Malawi’s leaders. The first lecture focuses on basic medical information while the second lecture focuses on information specific to Malawi, such as the culture. The lectures last for 3 hours each and culminate in a multiple choice test.
Only the students with the highest scores are allowed to attend the trip. The test also provides a method for anyone to attend the trip.
“If you’re financially challenged, I suggest studying and doing your best on the test,” Batista Oliveira said, “as the student with the highest score has their trip paid for.”
This year, the highest score belonged to senior Samantha McLaughlin, a student that has been going since sophomore year.
McLaughlin’s experience has allowed her to form connections with the people of Malawi.
“When I first visited the orphanage during my first year of the trip, I was swarmed by a girl,” McLaughlin said. “That girl, Charity, is the person that I’m closest with on the trip.”
“While attending Malawi,” she said, “Charity and I are essentially tied to the hip during my whole stay.”
McLaughlin also recalls her time visiting Charity’s orphanage. While visiting the orphanage, the visiting students offer toys and candy and show a current movie to the orphans.
“This year, we showed Moana to the kids in the orphanage,” she said. “Despite the language barrier preventing the kids from fully understanding the movie, they still enjoyed the movie.”
The visiting students participate in traditions originating from Malawi’s past as a British colony.
“While at Malawi, we have ‘Tea Time’ with our host families,” McLaughlin said, “which allows us to know more about the families.”
McLaughlin describes her connection to her host family as positive.
“My host family have invited me to come over whenever I want,” McLaughlin said, “so I plan on visiting them over the summer.”
McLaughlin highly recommends the trip.
“My advice while in Malawi is to not be nervous,” McLaughlin said, “as the people are friendly, and the culture isn’t as different as you might think.”