Much groundwork is done to prepare the students hearts and minds to be open to what they will see and experience during ALSO week. The experiences are varied but all explore themes of service, peace, discipleship and justice. This year’s theme was the ‘Upside Down Kingdom’. Beginning early in the year Chapels were dedicated to exploring the theme. As well, the Faith and Life Committee organized a student fundraiser where students were asked to raise money in creative ways to support programs in all of the ALSO locations. This year’s fundraiser was called Adventopoly. Each ALSO group then took a portion of the money raised to donate to different organization at each of the ALSO locations. With everything finally in place and with much excitement and anticipation, the entire student body departed for one of the 5 locations in the 3rd week of April.
This year, we took 22 students down to Mobile, Alabama to volunteer at Feed the Gulf Coast, Habitat for Humanity and Ransom Ministries. On the way there we made many different stops such as Graceland, The National Civil Rights Museum, the French Quarter, Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church and a swamp tour at Cajan Encounters. We experienced different kinds of food mostly recommended by Bev and Karalee. Some of the food we tried were the Muffuletta at the Italian Market in New Orleans and the crawfish which Bev made some of the boys try so she could get pictures of their reactions but they didn’t give any! Down in mobile we had one day of volunteering at Feeding the Gulf Coast and four days of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or Ransom Cafe. This consisted of gardening, sorting food, framing a house , painting walls and ceilings, putting down flooring , and serving customers at the café. Overall this trip helped us learn how to become last rather than first by serving others that are in need of help.
ALSO Gulf Coast Video
Our ALSO trip to Guatemala this year was a great time. Our theme for the week(s) was The Upsidedown Kingdom and it was very prevalent throughout our time. Our group consisted of 9 students and 3 chaperones. We learned, saw, ate a lot, and met many amazing people. We started in Guatemala City where we did a tour of the cemetery, dump, and a more wealthy area of town to contrast the huge wealth imbalance and see how people of different means live. Next we travelled to Santiago for several days, staying with host families and learning about the work ANADESA does in their community. We spent a fun and dusty afternoon playing soccer with the kids in the town and playing a kind of tag game with them. On Sunday we attended a Catholic mass and had a beading workshop. We took a boat ride to visit an organic coffee plantation on our way to Panajachel where we stayed for a night before travelling to San Marcos. There we saw the Marlin Gold Mine and heard from affected community members about the harmful effects pollution has caused and the ways big corporations have deceived them. From there we went to Xela, staying in the hostel Kasa Kiwi. In the evening we had time to bond as a group. We learned from two different organizations who are quite different but have the same goals. They aim to help keep Mayan culture alive while creating jobs and opportunity for all people. The next day we hiked the Chikabal volcano, eating a picnic lunch on its lakeside summit and then hiking back down again. We had a very enjoyable and much needed trip to a hot springs on our way to Antigua. In Antigua we had two days to relax, unwind and reflect on our experiences throughout the trip. We had lots of free time to explore the beautiful city and do some souvenir shopping. We then headed back to Guatemala City for one last sleep before we made our way home. It was an impactful trip that greatly influenced all of us. It will continue to do so as we graduate and move on to new adventures.