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Civic Responsibility Abroad

By: Danny Magrans, World Language Department Chair


“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi. 

The ability to teach a World Language comes with tremendous responsibilities and amazing rewards. The world is so big and the need to make global connections are more apparent than ever before. To develop fluency in a target language should be the goal for all who teach a second language, but so should developing life long learners of all the beauty that surrounds us. Especially when we serve. 

So far my students and I have been honored to travel to Costa Rica, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. Each of these trips were built to tour the countries, speak the language, engage in and create cultural experiences and most importantly serve. I am so proud of the work we have completed and trust that greater opportunities are in the horizon. No matter what the mission, the end results have been consistently the same; those who give are usually the recipients of the greater gift. I agree with Gandhi’s statement, in order to understand who we are… we should commit ourselves to the service of others. 

“There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.” Woodrow Wilson

Many ask me why do we serve? Doesn’t it take a tremendous responsibility to organize a trip, and prepare students for the experiences? In short….yes it does. A lot of work is put in to prepare and while on the trip, but to be perfectly honest I can’t imagine living without serving. I can’t imagine teaching without motivating as many students as I can to make a difference and reach as many hearts as possible. While it may sound cliche, we all have beautiful gifts that others need to see. To not share our gifts would be to deny the One who gave them to us. It would also be to deny the opportunity to grow from the magnificent differences that exist all around us. Our goal should be to gain understanding and reach conclusions based on experiences earned. This works best for me and my students when we are able to roll up our sleeves and dig, paint, build, supply, buy, laugh, play, and share a meal with those we serve. Over the course of  the last few years, we have dug a water line in Costa Rica, worked alongside locals to build and supply a girls school, and volunteered with the Dream Organization in the Dominican Republic, to name just a few. Two worlds divided by such great distance but yet so similarly bonded by a common theme, LOVE.

“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Many years ago I was asked the question, “What do you teach?” For some reason it just forced me to think more profoundly.  I said, “I teach life and use Spanish as my catalyst.” I really meant my response.

So why do we serve others while traveling abroad? Because we are blessed with the gifts to extend to others. I strongly believe most students long to make a difference in this world. As a result I will continue try to extend the opportunities to all who are willing and able to go. I am forever grateful for those who have taken this walk with me. 

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