Most of us make New Year's resolutions and many of them are broken, but a few students from Westminster School are hoping to keep theirs this year after experiencing life in a third world country this past summer.
Students from the school went on a mission trip to Guatemala in July 2013. The school has been sending kids there for the past several years now, partnering with an organization called From Houses to Homes.
When they get there, the young men and women help build cement homes, complete with doors and windows, for families living in what amounts to a straw hut.
The trip gives these youngsters a look at the real world and some of the living conditions found in it. The experience is a powerful one.
"I'm blessed with so much and I didn't really realize it until I went down on that trip," said Conoly Cravens, a junior at Westminster.
It is eye-opening for many students who until that point may have taken all of the advantages they have for granted.
Most of the students attending Westminster come from families that can afford to pay for their private school education.
In rural Guatemala there is little running water, hardly any electricity and the internet may be confused as a tool for working in the fields, which a large number of children have done for decades.
Since Houses to Homes began building dwellings for families, they have also built schools and a medical clinic. For the first time in generations, children are beginning to get formal education beyond a third-grade level.
The students from America who come down on their summer break to help are often shocked at the conditions in which these people live but take heart in how thankful the people are for their efforts.
There it is a simple life with few of the distractions we are surrounded with here, and despite not having the latest iPhone or gadget, the people are quite happy.
This has taught many of the Westminster students a valuable lesson.
"It's not really about what you have, as far as money and possessions; the place they lived obviously was smaller than this room, but what made them happy was the fact that they had their family with them," said Matthew Ramsey, a Westminster student.
As this new year begins, several Westminster students were interviewed. All of them had been down to Guatemala on a mission, and each of them agreed: making a point to keep those in need at the forefront of their thoughts would be one of their resolutions this year.
Each had his or her own reason, and each plans to turn that resolution from a good intention into part of who he or she is.
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Friday, April 18 2014 6:10 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:10:07 GMT
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