A group of 23 Notre Dame Academy students traveled to Marquez, Peru this summer where they experienced firsthand the gratifying experience of making a difference in the world. This is the second year that NDA students organized a mission trip to this small community church, Luz Divina, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. “In the two years that NDA students have traveled to Luz Divina, they have painted an entire library with an original mural, painted Sunday school classrooms inside and out, painted a villager’s home with termite protection, provided meals for the school children, supplied the library with over 50 children’s books, brought jackets and hats for the children to keep them warm through the winter, and provided toiletries for the community to help with their daily lives,” said NDA Spanish teacher, Linda Cochran who accompanied the girls on their trip.
NDA Senior, Lauren Crossman, went on the NDA mission trip to Peru last summer and returned again this year. “Our goal as NDA students was to be good, responsible role models to the girls in Marquez. The culture is much different in Peru from the norm at Notre Dame; many of the girls in the community unfortunately are pregnant after their quinceanera, continuing the cycle of poverty. Education for girls is not perceived as important in Peru, but we wanted to show these girls as ‘women making a difference,’ that it is important and possible to pursue their dreams and respect themselves.”
At NDA, a key component of a well rounded education is global understanding. Notre Dame Academy President, Sr. Lynette Shelton, says that “Mission trips such as this one broaden the scope of community service for our students. By immersing themselves in the cultural environment and daily experiences of Marquez, Peru, the past two years, our students have had the unique experience of putting the theories they have learned in the classroom into practice.” Sr. Lynette goes on to say that “Principles such as recognizing the human dignity of each person as an image of God, learning from the authentic experience of others, building a just and peaceful community, and a strong commitment to service and leadership in learning and in life, are some of the primary values of a Notre Dame education.”
The NDA mission trip to Peru was of great benefit not only to the community of Luz Divina, but also to the students of Notre Dame Academy teaching them “true gratitude and happiness,” said Crossman. Mrs. Cochran added, “Looking back at the 2 years that the girls have traveled to Peru, they have learned many things about the Peruvian culture, history and everyday life. The most important life lesson that reverberated on the bus rides to and from the mission, however, is how much our students have learned about themselves. Even if they have not discovered the full impact of what their visits mean to the community of Luz Divina, they have begun to understand what is means to them personally.”