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Gill St. Bernard’s School Spain 2017

May 23-24, 2017

After a few tiring hours of layovers and bus rides, our group finally arrived at FES with our two trip leaders, Jillian and Victor First, we got situated in our rooms and enjoyed a few well deserved minutes of rest. Then, we were introduced to Ignacio, the founder of FES, who brought us to the community lunch where we met all the members of the FES community. FES is a non profit organization that provides support for immigrant families, often single mothers and their children. They help to support these families with care for the children, job training, and building a sense of community.  Everyone was super welcoming and happy to see us. After Ignacio toured us around the FES campus where we saw the workshop, the pool, and the rooms of the families staying here. Before dinner, Jillian and Victor spoke with us once more about the rules of the trip, as well as all of the activities we’ll be doing, like gardening, spending time with the kids, and making mosaics. Then, we ate dinner and returned to our rooms for the night. Overall, it’s been a very, very long day. We’re looking forward to getting to work and being able to build strong, meaningful connections and understanding with all the people at FES by the end of this trip.

May 25, 2017

Good Morning! Today was our first full day at FES and it was a blast!  In the morning we broke into groups to participate at various activities with the Foundation.  First we had the opportunity to brainstorm ideas for the mosaic we are to build.  It was very good, very nice.  Some of the group worked on the mosaic beginning with chopping tiles to prepare the pieces.  Other groups had the chance to help care for and interact with the children at the onsite daycare.  Another group baked bread for dinner, while others were out working with concrete on the new pathway for FES.  Earlier, we had a delicious Spanish style breakfast.  After the projects, we had lunch and gelato for dessert.  Then it was time for a much needed siesta.  The highlight of the day was a hike up a nearby mountain for sunset.  We finished with a reflection and went to bed.

-Jon, Alex, Tyler

May 26, 2017

Today we got to continue our projects. We made great progress on our mosaic as well as the new walkway we have been working on. The mosaic displays humans from Spain and USA peacefully holding hands along with the phrase, “Mi casa es tu casa.”. Ignacio, the founder of FES, insisted that we used the informal form of the saying which was heart-warming. He says that we are all one family, which is rewarding. After finishing our work for the day, we hiked up the terrain and watched the sunset from the hill. The view was breathtaking; and after we hiked back down, we immediately went to dinner, hosted by the families of the community. We divided into groups of 3 and each group and each went to a different house to dine. The families were welcoming , kind, and amazing cooks making traditional Spanish foods. After dinner, we broke out a couple moves and danced with the children of the community. Overall, it was a great day as we learned more about Spanish culture and serve the community. Tomorrow is our last day of service and we are looking forward to finishing our projects!

-Brad B. and Will Y.

May 27, 2017

Today was our last day of service in the foundations, so all of us got to pick which service activity we wanted to work on. After the activities were finished, we all go to have a meeting with some of the people from the community and got to know one another better talking about our experiences here at the school and what we want to do in the future. Some of the community members’ stories were really eye-opening and allowed us to really understand the true and massive value of FES. Also, since it was our last day of community service, we had to finish the mosaic that a group of students designed our first day here. After 3 days of hard work, we were able to finish the mural just in time and were able to leave our mark on FES, just as it has left a mark on all of us.

Once we finished our last service job and ate lunch with the FES community, our group boarded the bus that would take us on our next adventure through the streets of Granada. The one who wore sneakers were lucky as the journey to our destination only became steeper walking up what felt like Mt. Everest. Our location consisted of both a restaurant and a Flamenco theater where we spent mot of our evening. We first learned how to dance a simple Flamenco routine. Everybody felt silly making such odd dance moves, but became a little less shy, once the whole routine came together. We then watched flamenco after our delicious meal of tapas. The dancers were very vibrant and engaging. We then went back to see a view of the Alhambra which was even more stunning during sunset. We then made our way back to FES to get rest for the next day’s journey back to Granada.

– Lauren, Allison, Martine, & Justine

May 28, 2017

Today we spent the day in Granada. First, we visited the Alhambra and got to spend a few hours exploring the area in groups. The landscape was very beautiful with the many gardens and the architecture of the buildings was very impressive. After seeing the Alhambra, we went back into the city for a lunch of tapas. All of the food was really great, particularly the falafel and the curros, and it was cool exploring the city a lot more than we did yesterday. Granada is a great city and we all wish there was more time to explore it!

-Sabrina & Oliva