When asked about her experience with the Tanzania mission trip, Campus Minister Mrs. Mary Catherine Koehler said, “It’s interesting because we believe a mission trip is just to help. It really is not to be the typical white Americans who save the day, but go learn about other cultures and the people, understanding where they come from. You will become amazed at how they help you gain a better world view.”

The trip, the school’s first visit to Africa, occurred from July 7-28. They traveled to Kilimanjaro, to Arusha on a safari, and then onto the city of Dodoma, while staying at Saint Peter Claver High School. After these outings, they visited Chamwino to build a basketball court for a week, experiencing kairos, and leaving Dar es salaam after a two night stay at a beach resort.

From the minute the students and adult chaperones stepped off the plane, their senses were assailed by unfamiliar stimuli.

Saint Ignatius students journeyed to Africa for the first time, as part of a mission trip to Tanzania over the summer. Photo Credit: Communications Department
Saint Ignatius students journeyed to Africa for the first time, as part of a mission trip to Tanzania over the summer. Photo Credit: Communications Department

Mrs. Koehler, when questioned about the student’s reactions to this foreign nation, said, “Going as a chaperone, and having been to Africa a few times, lived in and traveled to 20 different countries, it amazed me to see how kids grow through what they see and experience. It personally inspired me. For instance, when we first arrived at Kilimanjaro, one student, Tobias Engel ‘18, asked, ‘Mrs. Koehler, what’s that smell?’ I responded, ‘burning trash on the side of the street.’”

Senior John Vrablic shared how the trip changed his view of the world, “During my time in Tanzania, I learned a lot about myself and the way I see Jesus in my community. Coming home, I now see Jesus in the small things that I would have never seen before Tanzania. Because of Tanzania, I see Jesus in people that I would not normally see Him in. Tanzania blessed me with a greater sense of appreciation for the little things and because of that I see Jesus in almost everything.”

Involving the differing lifestyles of Americans and people of foreign nations, Mrs. Koehler said, “Putting themselves out into the world, the students embraced different ways of living…Life [in Tanzania] is very simple, easier to find God in simplicity compared to materialistic things, forgetting that God needs to be the foundation.”

Most teachers love the idea that the service aspect of the school is finally getting recognition. And that occurred in earnest after an all-school mass on October 4. Adults and students from a number of service groups spoke, including representatives from: CAT, the Arrupe Programs, Mission Trips/Retreat leaders, Ignatians for Peace and Justice, Ploughman, and the Green Team. These groups educated the student population about the unfortunate reality of how others act with a lack of human dignity. Whether it be about abortion, fair trade, death penalty, conservation, etc., humanity and the world must be respected.

One example of this call is the March for Life which occurred on Thursday, October 20. It began with a mass which hosted over 500 students and teachers from 11 catholic schools. Mr. Pacetti found this year’s mass to be inspiring due to Fr. Andy Turner’s homily. In this homily, he preached that the manner in which we are called is to be a sign of contradiction.” Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world, but division; however, we all come together for these events, being inspired to do God’s work. After mass, the students marched to Public Square to share their dreams for a culture of life. Isaiah Maldonado ‘17 was an emcee who is passionate about the violence that exists in our cities as well as Saint Ignatius being a fairtrade school. A moment of real leadership and unity came out of this event. Prior to this year, our school came together only for athletic events. Having come together for this rally, we are now combined in unity, which is a true sign of contradiction.