On a Mission to Haiti


Photo courtesy of Richard de Campo

AHS students teach different songs and dances at the Villard School.

Recently five students from Aspen High School traveled to a small rural village in Haiti to not only teach, but to learn as well.  Seniors Ben Belinski, Jacob Kadota, Dominique Wojcik, and Allegra Galli, sophomore Tiana Perry and the chaperones of the trip, Mary Cate Hauenstein and Richard de Campo traveled to Villard, Haiti, a centrally located village, to teach, donate books, and learn more about the Haitian culture and the impacts that they could have.

Throughout the week, the group also traveled to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital and the Mercy and Sharing Orphanage to learn more about the differences that they could make in a place that had been devastated by the earthquake that thundered across the island in 2010.

The trip to Haiti was a project lead by the Aspen Chapel’s Kids for Kids and Snowmass Chapel’s Teen Action Council, and the main objectives of the trip included, teaching, learning, and providing service to those in need, however, the kids were encouraged to explore other ideas.

“Our goals were to be completely open to whatever was thrown our way, to be able to experience a new and challenging way of life, and to teach and learn from what we did in Haiti. I think we accomplished all those goals very well and now have new goals to share our amazing experience with the community and show people how they can make a difference, as well” Belinski said.

In order to make this trip possible, the students spent many hours fundraising and pitching to locals for donations. After all was said and done, the students had raised over $4,000, Belinski said in an interview with The Aspen Times.

Aside from teaching students that attended the Villard School in Haiti, the AHS students had the opportunity to learn as well.

“I learned a lot about the world outside of our little bubble in Aspen, and many people may claim to have an idea of what it’s like, but there is truly no way to really understand until you have experienced something like Haiti. I also learned a lot about myself, and how I alone may not make much of a difference, but every bit helps. Being surrounded by people who radiate happiness especially after going through so much, makes me want to do the same,” Perry said.

The students hope that the mission of the trip is continued in the following years, so that others can gain this experience as well.

“I really hope that this trip was not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s these kinds of experiences that will make you think about your own actions and the lives of other people, but you shouldn’t just go on one service trip and be done. You always need to be experiencing things like this, constantly seeing things with a new set of eyes and continuously learning about the world. Hopefully, my perspective of the world and my own life will keep changing every day,” Belinski said.


The students, along with Campo, take a break from working in the shade of a large tree.
The students, along with Campo, take a break from working in the shade of a large tree.