Service is a big part of our trips here at Appleseed Expeditions. Whether it is a domestic trip to Yellowstone or an international trip to New Zealand or Costa Rica, we believe that making a difference in the lives of those we serve also makes a difference in the lives of the students who serve. Some of the service activities for past groups have included creating a garden for fresh vegetables and herbs, painting rooms at an orphanage, helping control invasive species in The Galapagos Islands, interacting with abandoned and neglected children, and beach cleanup. We look for any service activity that needs to be done in each particular area that we visit. The main purpose of including service for students in all of our trips is for them to make a difference in the lives of others by using their own talents and skills.
Over the past 5 years since I have been a part of the Appleseed Expeditions team I have witnessed the impact that service does in the different countries and the communities we visit. I have also witnessed the impact that service has on the student travelers. I have seen how students react to helping solve issues and the needs of others and how this helps them discover what they can do to help in their own communities when they return home. They learn that serving others should be a part of all our lives, no matter what our profession is or where we are.
Once, the mother of a student from a little town in Missouri, shared with me that a few years after her son returned from an Appleseed trip to Costa Rica, he rethought his decision to not go to college. After serving in the local Costa Rican community and reflecting on that service each night on the trip, he changed his mind and is now in college with a dream of a career to be of service to others.
A few years after guiding a student group in The Galapagos Islands, I was contacted by a local who told me that the students’ efforts to restore the habitat of Giant Tortoises in San Cristobal Island had really made a difference. He said that the scientists and rangers had reports that the tortoises were returning – the students had helped increase their territory.
There is hope in this world and there is a lot we can do to help, making a difference starts with the little actions that we do every day. On our Service Learning trips we focus on helping students find way to make a difference.
Paulo Segura ● Appleseed Expeditions Guide