Name: Alena Wesley
From: Charlotte, North Carolina
School: Ardrey Kell High School
A Different Side of the World
I have traveled three times to Santa Elena, a miniscule island off the
coast of Honduras. I stayed in a mission house with 20 other members
for a week at a time and worked in the community for about 10 hours a
day. This volunteer trip focused on poverty. I decided to go on this
trip because of my want to help people. I feel that I am very
privileged to live where I do, and I want to help those who do not
have the same opportunities as me.
During my trip, I taught 1st graders how to write the alphabet, practiced my Spanish, and walked
the island with locals. I also got to work in the mission clinic with
Dr. Todd Taylor. From cleaning wounds to listening to a baby’s
heartbeat, my work in the clinic not only fed my interest in the
medical field, but it also provided inspiration to aid as many people
as possible. I have always wanted to study medicine. However, I never
knew what type of medicine. Now, I know that I want to work as a
doctor in a third-world country to help those with little access to
The most satisfaction I have ever received was when an island kid, Jared,
reached out to hold my hand. He was only three years old at the time.
He had been so timid because he came from an abusive household, but
after spending a few days with him, I gained his trust and made him
finally feel loved. The biggest challenge I came across was leaving.
I have developed such a strong connection with so many of the
islanders. I almost feel guilty going back to my air-conditioned
house where I have food stocked in my pantry, when I know there are
people in this world struggling to survive. I returned to the United
States with a new perspective on life. I realized truly lucky I am to
have a house, a school, and even to have shoes.
Looking back, I strongly believe my volunteer activities have made a
difference. Even though I helped a small number of people, I like to
believe that they went on to help others, too. I am hoping to start
my own chain-reaction of kindness. My family and I also put together
money every month to send Jared to school. I know now that he will
have a chance at a brighter future.
To me, “forward looking” means making conscientious decisions about
my future. The activities I participate in are “forward looking”
because they will contribute to my future. My volunteer work gives me
a unique experience that has taught me numerous lessons and allowed
me to create beautiful relationships with people I would have never
met. I seek to foster the change of poverty conditions in developing
countries. This is a very prevalent issue in our world, and it will
take a long time to change, but I know I can make a difference.