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Gables Students Around the World

Marina+Torras+stands+with+a+child+from+the+village.
Marina Torras stands with a child from the village.

Marina Torras stands with a child from the village.

Marina Torras

Marina Torras

Marina Torras stands with a child from the village.

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Following a year filled with challenging courses and lots of testing, most Coral Gables high students were more than happy to trade their 7 AM classes and endless homework assignments for sandy beaches and a sufficient amount of sleep. While many stayed put in Miami, some traveled thousands of miles to extraordinary locations across the world. Three of those such students are Marina Torras, Yanik Ariste and Melanie Giquel.

Marina Torras, a junior in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, traveled to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip with BLUE (Building Love Uniting Everyone) to build around latrines in a village called Arroyo Sabana, about four hours outside of the capital. While she was there, not only did she become closer to the other high school volunteers on the trip, but also to many of the people living in the village. She describes the hospitality of the residents, saying, “Other times, when we finished working, some families would invite us inside their homes and we would chat. I found it incredible that the people we encountered had so little yet they would share and would give us everything they had despite being complete strangers to them.” The people she encountered on the trip lived in varying levels of poverty, living in houses made of Zinc, Palm leaves, and palm leaves and cultivating most or all of their own food on the land. Without much electronic technology or material items, Marina learned that what mattered most to these people was spending time with their friends and family and enjoying the simple joys of life.

Marina Torras                                           Marina and other BLUE mission volunteers set up a latrine frame

“There was a tree that had fallen over, so the kids, they would just like – we helped them obviously- they would just like walk all the way to the highest point of the tree and jump off. They spent probably like an hour just playing with a tree branch. It wasn’t even like any cool game or anything. They were all really happy and it just made me realize like wow, they don’t have a lot here and we have more than them and sometimes we’re still unhappy,” Torras said. In the end, Marina enjoyed escaping the stress of life here in the US -a life of non-stop deadlines and accompanying pressures- and enjoyed learning to live like they do in the Dominican Republic, in the moment.

 

Yanik Ariste
Yanik with other members of her travel group during their trip to the University of Notre Dame

Rising IB senior Yanik Ariste also took a noteworthy trip, traveling 1,339 miles to the prestigious University of Notre Dame as a student in the 2017 Leadership Seminars. She was enrolled in the Science, Ethics and Responsibility seminar and attended classes where they explored the ethical issues behind many technological developments such as cyber war and robotics. In addition to those lectures, the students also were able to visit many places that were related to the seminar, such as the Robot exhibit in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Even if science isn’t your favorite subject, Yanik still recommends you give the Leadership Seminars a chance – there are other seminars geared toward other interests. “I would encourage those with other interests to apply as there are two other seminars, those being American arts, Popular Culture and Social Change as well as Global Issues: toward a just peace. All of the seminars were great, we actually saw enlightening presentations on Gentrification from the Arts seminar and on International Peacekeeping from the Global Issues seminar so I would encourage students who have an interest in any of the three topics to apply,” she said. She also made many new friends during her trip and says by the time they returned to Miami she had really bonded with all the previous strangers in her group. This trip has shaped her plans for the future.

“I would encourage those with other interests to apply as there are two other seminars, those being American arts, Popular Culture, and Social Change as well as Global Issues: toward a just peace. All of the seminars were great, we actually saw enlightening presentations on Gentrification from the Arts seminar and on International Peacekeeping from the Global Issues seminar so I would encourage students who have an interest in any of the three topics to apply,” she said. She also made many new friends during her trip and says by the time they returned to Miami she had really bonded with all the previous strangers in her group. This trip has shaped her plans for the future.

“While I am undecided as to what to major in and what career path to take, the seminar explored scientific and technological topics that I had an interest in and made me realize the whole ethical perspective behind it. It certainly made me more interested in the ethics of emerging weapons, a class I definitely want to take if I do enroll at Notre Dame,” Ariste said.

Melanie tends to a patient in a hospital in Ahmedabad, India

The last Cavalier who made a remarkable journey this summer is Melanie Giquel, a current sophomore in the IB program. She traveled the farthest of the three, all the way to Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat for a medical internship with Youth Florida International. During her stay there, the students on the trip worked at a public hospital. They were split into different rotation groups and spent half the day in a different department like surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics, or gynecology and then for the second half of the day, they sat for a class at the GCS medical school on subjects such as pathology, forensic medicine, or general medicine. Then, on the weekends, they would go sightseeing, exploring some of India’s ancient artifacts and monuments.

“My favorite was the last Sundays trip when we went to this huge temple and once we got inside the architecture, paintings, music and smells were overwhelming but in the best way possible. There were paintings with stories underneath and artifacts. It was like witnessing history and the beauty in India’s history up close and in person,” Giquel said.

She also noticed many cultural differences both inside and outside the hospital during the stay. While traveling the city, she noticed the immense amount of traffic and people living under the poverty line as compared to the United States. While working in the clinic, she observed a number of respect doctors were treated with by the patients and other staff.

“In the hospital, we noticed how much emphasis and honor is placed on being a doctor. It’s a noble profession. When a doctor walks in the room all the nurses have to stand. When a doctor says something to a patient they’re compelled to listen because of their status. We were at a public hospital, so we definitely saw a large population of the state who respected doctors and treated us with the same regard,” she said.

Although the school has started up again and students have to return to their classes, the memories of these experiences will not fade. These are once in a lifetime opportunities which these students will remember forever.

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The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School.
Gables Students Around the World