Wolverines travel the world


Staff Photo by Paige Schepperley

North Raleigh Methodist Youth Group takes on Machu Picchu.

The summer has come to end, and with the turning of the leaves as well as colder weather many can’t help but reminisce over their summer adventures. This is no exception for students at  Wakefield High School.  Over the summer many took advantage of the time off from school to see the world.  Ranging from mission trips to school-sponsored trips the students have been diving head first into new cultural experiences.  

As an experienced traveler, art teacher Dawn Valentino understands how much of an impact traveling overseas can have on a person.

Photo Courtesy of Dawn Valentino
Valentino’s art students enjoy Europe.

“I, along with 13 other students from my art classes took a trip to different parts of Europe,” Valentino said.  “We spent two days in Paris, toured Venice, went through Italy and ended the trip with Florence and Rome.”

Senior Kaleigh Young was one of these 13 students to accompany Valentino on the trip.  Through the trip, Kaleigh believes she gained many new perspectives.

“I thought the places were absolutely gorgeous and have so much history behind everything which is something I’ve always wanted to experience,” Young said.  “ Probably one of the coolest things I learned about was how the cultures of other places are different from what we have here in the United States.”

Many great memories were made on the trip.  Valentino, although having been to Europe before, found this trip to be one of the best she’s been on yet.

“The trip was full of art and we fully tried to take advantage in immersing ourselves in the unique culture,” Valentino said. “It always seems like there is so much to do and so little time.  I went with Kaleigh to the Pompidou Museum in Paris which was something I had never done before.”

Photo Courtesy of Claire Grosse
Bentley’s students explore Australia.

Traveling to Europe for all those involved proved to be a very life-changing experience, but it’s not the only way students this summer have been able to learn cultures of other countries. A program through the school called EF (Education First) allowed seniors Claire Grosse and Madison Moyer to experience all that Australia has to offer.

“We found out about the program EF through an interest meeting at the school,” Grosse said.  “I never thought that I would be traveling across the world with all my friends.”

EF is a program that helps students experience new cultures and build leadership skills through traveling around the world.  The program takes care of scheduling everything from hotel rooms to daily excursions. Those who attended the trip also walked across the Sydney Bridge, visited The Sydney Opera House and explored native culture throughout the continent.

“It was an amazing experience overall and I feel like everyone should try to get out and experience someplace new,” Grosse said.  “I was surprised by how affordable it could be and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do this if it weren’t for the help of the school.”

There are many organizations that provide programs to travel internationally and one simple way maybe your local church.  This year North Raleigh Methodist church took Seniors Michelle Mayakis and Ben Luther on a mission trip to Peru, in order to work with local families in the community.

“I wanted to immerse myself into a place that needed a lot of help and it seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Luther said.  “One of the things I can’t stop thinking about was how giving and welcoming the Peruvian people were compared to the mannerisms here in the U.S. It really made me think.”

Peru not only offered students a way to give back to people in need but also forced students to step outside their comfort zone and push themselves.

“I have to be honest, at first I was kind of scared of going to a foreign country and not knowing how to speak their native language,” Mayakis said.  “I quickly learned that I had nothing to worry about because we had a great team of adults to help us as well as the local Peruvian community to guide us on our trip.  I never felt unsafe.”

The memories made in Peru impacted these students.  Throughout the trip, many lessons were made.

“I’ll never forget how grateful these people were for how little they had,” Mayakis said.  “There was this one point in the trip that we were handing out school supplies to kids around the church we were helping to rebuild and we ran out so we gave them apples instead.  I’ve never seen someone so happy to receive an apple before and that alone brought tears to my eyes.

By traveling the world students have been able to be immersed in experiences unlike any that they can be part of here in the United States.  All students involved in overseas travel this summer continuously shared one common factor: that they all could recognize how important opportunities like this are within someone’s young life.

“I would definitely suggest taking a trip to a foreign country to anyone because it takes you outside your comfort zone,” said Luther. “ I have made lifelong friends that I still keep in contact with and I will never forget the impact they have had on the way I see the world around me.”

Photo Courtesy of Tessa Garst
Senior Tessa Garst is another student who experienced what it is like to help those in need after going on a mission trip to Cuba this past summer.  

“We got there very late at night and it was so different then what we see here in the U.S.” Garst said. “ It was strange seeing how a communist country rules.  We couldn’t even take pictures of the people in Cuba because it’s against their government’s policy.”

For these students, attending international trips left them filled with new knowledge and appreciation for other nations cultures.

“The memories these students make can be carried throughout their lives,” Valentino said.  “As a teacher, I see the importance in experiencing the unique cultures that other countries have to offer.”