On Thursday, March 24th at 7:00pm in the Xaverian gymnasium, The XBHS Parent Council presents Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder. Tracy Kidder will speak about his book Mountains Beyond Mountains, which is about Dr. Paul Farmer and his medical and humanitarian efforts in Haiti. It will be open to the public, and Tracy Kidder will be available to sign his book following the presentation. Junior Talis Reks recently visited Haiti as a volunteer. Assistant Director of Admissions Kevin Loftus was able to ask Talis about his experience, and what he learned while volunteering his time and efforts. Enjoy!
Kevin Loftus (KL): How did you get the opportunity to visit Haiti?
Talis Reks (TR): My mother, Jenny Reks, asked me if I would like to join her for a trip to Haiti in January. She is connected to a missions group Mission E4 who does other work all around Haiti and other poor countries.
KL: What was your initial reaction when you first saw the earthquake’s effects?
TR: As soon as I flew from Miami to Haiti, I immediately saw the difference between the two. I couldn’t believe the devastation that is still around in Haiti a year after the earthquake. After seeing the broken down buildings and the major debris on the side of the road, i knew that there needed to be a lot of work to be done to help clean this country.
KL: What type of work did you do while you were there?
TR: A few projects that i helped with were building a boys orphanage and a school for the children impacted by the earthquake. I did heavy construction moving rocks and mixing cement for the foundation. I also cut up wood for bunk beds that were later put to use for a place to sleep for the children.
KL: What did you learn on your trip?
TR: I learned so many things, but one in particular is even in the poorest of countries and the most devastating places, I still saw God within the people. I saw the debris on the streets and homeless kids wandering aimlessly, but after seeing the progress we made and meeting some of the people who live there, i know God is within each and every one of us. God works in mysterious ways, and this is just a perfect example of that. I saw God in the kids faces and how happy they were with such little they have.
KL: Why do you enjoy serving others?
TR: I really enjoy serving others and this trip made me realize how rewarding it can be. After seeing the kids’ faces after giving them care packages and showing them their bunk beds for the first time, i knew that i was changing people’s lives. These kids will never forget that people care for them and want them to be happy and have a good future. If I changed one person’s life while I was down there, I would feel like I accomplished so much.
KL: Did this experience change your perspective on life?
TR: Every time i wake up and take a shower in the morning, i always think back on how easy we have it here in the United States. Every time i sit down and eat a meal with my family, i realize how privileged we are to be able to have such an event. instead of walking two or three miles down the street to get water, we simply turn a knob and clean fresh water comes pouring out. Little things like those stand out the most. So yes, i believe this experience changed my perspective on life.