Sequoyah Going Abroad Again

Junior High Guatemala Trip Intrigues, Concerns

3 min read

Sequoyah has not had a camping trip outside of the United States in at least ten years, but this spring there will be a Junior High field studies trip to Guatemala. Adelaide Nalley, director of field studies, said, “We were all really sad when we stopped traveling to Mexico, so we wanted to bring back a Latin America trip.”

About twelve students and three or more staff members will be on the trip. The chaperones are not yet set, but Nalley said that she and Spanish teacher Roxana Castro would be going.  Accommodations, Nalley said, would be “in small guest houses…that I’ve either stayed at before or that [were] recommended by friends [of mine] that live there.”

At the parent information meeting about the trip, Nalley said that there would be a chance that kids could get sick on the trip and that safety will be a top priority. “We’re talking about taking kids to another country and parents not going with them, so it’s very understandable to be concerned. We’ll be constantly thinking about safety. Every decision we make will be to make the trip as safe as possible in terms of health and those kinds of safety issues.” Spanish teacher Castro said, “there is a reason why we have a small group, and that is so we can take care of the students. There’s danger anywhere you go, in any part of the world. When we’re there, we will rent vans, but only two so we can stay close together.” 

Nalley says the school is aiming to make the trip “as low to the ground as possible, meaning we’re not going to stay in fancy places. We’re not going to be tourists as much as travelers, which is what we do on a Sequoyah trip.” 

Castro also mentioned that kids “won’t have to speak Spanish every second of the day, but we do want them to speak as much as they can.” There will not be any cook crews on this trip, which students seemed excited about. “Instead of cooking food you’ll be organizing food,” Castro said. “You’ll find restaurants for us [and] you’ll be ordering the food in Spanish. So it’s a different kind of challenge.” 

There will be an application process for interested students. Priority will go to eighth-graders, since this will also be an option next year and seventh-graders will get another chance.  

Both Nalley and Castro were sympathetic to students facing a choice between the Oregon and Guatemala trips. Castro said, “I think it’s a great opportunity, [but] I think it’s going to be hard for some kids to choose to give up Oregon for this. Either way you win, because you get to have a great experience [in] Oregon, or you win because you get to have this international experience.” 

Junior High students had various opinions on whether or not they would like to go on the trip. Seventh-grader Brayden Mandavia said, “I would definitely consider applying for the Guatemala trip. It sounds like a really cool opportunity. I feel like it would have the same Sequoyah-like structure to it, but it will be in a [different] place.” 

Fellow eighth-graders Mia Carrillo and Renee Ventresca both expressed excitement about the option for a different, “more exciting and adventurous” kind of Sequoyah trip. 

Students seemed to like the idea of a smaller group of people on a trip. Seventh-grader Nomi Kuntz said she imagined the trip would be difficult “in a different country with a lot of people, so I think that’s a good size. And I think it will allow you to become closer with a smaller amount of people.” Junior Higher Zack Wacker said “[it] sounds fun [and] cool. Sounds a lot more arts and crafty than the other one, but the food sounds better.”

Students were not all positive, however. Carrillo said, “Being sick would suck. Homicides haven’t really crossed my mind like [they have] with some people. Also, [I’m] kind of concerned about an active volcano” (one of the activities being planned is to hike up a volcano and roast marshmallows at the top). MayaJula Le, Junior High, said, “the Oregon trip sounds like more fun to me….I’d be worried about where we’re traveling from, what kind of transportation we’d be taking, and what kind of food we’d be eating.”