BRIDGEWATER, Va. – During the summer months college students spend the break in a variety of ways. There’s the beach for some, summer school for others. Some spend time with family on vacation while others work to pay the bills.
For Bridgewater College sophomore field hockey player Caroline Augsburger, she decided to spend four weeks on a mission trip with her former high school in Argentina.
The point of destination was Choele Choel, a small town with a listed population of around 10,000. Augsburger and her group flew into Buenos Aires and then boarded a bus for a 16-hour ride to Choele Choel.
The trip was the second for Augsburger as she also made the journey as a high school senior. It was the middle of winter in Argentina, with temperatures around 30 degrees, but when Augsburger stepped off the bus in Choele Choel, she was greeted with warm, friendly smiles.
“I had the same host family again so it was really cool to see them again. I recognized them and their pastor right away,” Augsburger said.
While in Choele Choel, Augsburger worked with children in the elementary school, teaching them English two to three days per week.
“It’s a big opportunity for them to have Americans in the classroom,” Augsburger said. “English is a main subject for them down there. They view it as an important language for them to learn.”
The school systems are structured differently than those here in the States.
“The elementary age kids start school around 10 in the morning. They’re in the classroom until around 2 and then break for lunch. After lunch we played games with them in the afternoon,” Augsburger said.
“The high school age kids go to school from 8 at night until midnight. During the day the boys are working and the girls are helping take care of the house. After they get home from school, that’s when everyone eats dinner. Their entire schedule is completely different.”
While the students were certainly benefactors of having interaction with the Americans, those on the mission trip didn't go away without special moments to remember.
“I think each time I have been there, I get more out of the experience than those I am there to help,” Augusburger said.
On this past trip there was particular moment that touched her heart.
“There was this little girl with a journal that had a Disney princess on it and she wrote in it every day. One day she asked me to take it and I really didn’t want to because I knew it was like her prize possession. It was a big lesson for me to accept that gift from her. It gave her so much joy to be able to offer me that gift. She just kept thanking me over and over for taking it.”
Augsburger came home with plenty of photos and even more memories. She expects to add more in the years to come.
“There will be another trip in two years and I’d love to go back,” she said. “I definitely want to spend some more time there in the future.”
While the youngsters in Choele Choel certainly learned from those on the trip, the educational process is a two-way street.
“The passion the people have down there is so different,” said Augsburger “They have what they need and are thankful for it. There’s so much we can learn from them.”
Corner Extra: A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about Larry Moore. Coach Moore worked as an assistant football coach here at BC as part of the NFL Players Association internship program. Today there is a good article on the NFLPA website about Ike Charlton who is working as an assistant this season with the Eagles. Click HERE to read the article.