During my summer experience I went to Torbellino, Mexico to help build a basketball court. I went with seven adults, and twenty-one other students. Eleven students were from Cristo Rey Brooklyn, and ten of them were from our sister school, Cristo Rey Dallas. It was a pleasure getting to know and work with them.
In the beginning, things didn’t exactly go as planned. Due to the rain and the sharp turns in the road, our big bus wasn’t able to make the journey to take us straight to Torbellino. We had to stay in a town called El Portugués for the night. Once morning came, we boarded trucks to take us on to Torbellino, and the local women cooked breakfast for us.
When we met the Dallas students, we were all shy, and no one was really interacting with each other. We just stuck together in our different groups. However, the first night we got to know the whole group a lot better. We played games and had a lot of icebreakers. That night, we managed to become closer, like an actual Cristo Rey family.
This unique summer program has taught me how to be a better Cristo Rey student and to never take anything for granted. I learned to interact with others and always go full out, because others will appreciate your generosity. This trip makes me want to do another one.
Shania Jones – Cristo Rey Brooklyn
The Courts for Kids trip has impacted my life in a deep and meaningful way. It has established a deeper sense of gratitude of the blessings I have at home; for example, something as simple as plumbing and a toilet.
The months leading up to this trip were very exciting, since I have blood ties to Mexico. Hearing that I would be going on this project to give back gave me a sense of pride, which really made me look forward to the trip as a whole. My family and I took the fundraising very seriously and wanted to give as much as we could, so, not only would I enjoy this opportunity, but also my friends and peers that were going.
What made the trip a life changing moment for me was the labor we did. It really pushed me to my physical limits. Lifting and shoveling the ground was really stressful on my body. This was great, because it gave me a mentality that I can get stronger. Even though I felt like I did well in the construction due to my active nature, it also made me appreciate the men and women who do this labor every day at home.
Finally, what made this experience the best was the new friends I made from the Cristo Rey Brooklyn team. Especially a young man named James. It was amazing with him because of how similar we are in our attitude and mindset. We grew in understanding of each other’s way of life and how we are both different in ways we didn’t think about. I am grateful that he was there for me when I talked about the personal issues happening at home and in my life in general, especially hearing that he was going through the same experiences. It really made me feel like I wasn’t the only one in the world going through these issues.
In conclusion, I am very blessed and happy that I have had the privilege of going on this trip to help and give back to a community. I will always cherish these memories. Honestly, I loved doing this so much I would love to sign up and do it all over again.
Andrew Faz – Cristo Rey Dallas
This past summer, I traveled to Torbellino, Mexico to help build a basketball court with the local community. I was so excited to ride on a plane for the first time since I was four. But when the plane slanted to go upwards, I nearly lost my mind. It probably didn’t help that I had a window seat, because I kept looking outside and almost screamed my head off. It also didn’t help that Isaiah was next to me being so excited about how high in the air we were. He literally turned to me and said, “We’re 10,000 feet in the air, bro!” My response was simple: “Shut up!”
When we finally got to Torbellino, we went on a hike for about 3 hours. Our leader was an 8-year-old girl named Yasmine. She was so adorable. Some of these places were steep and dangerous, but she was climbing like it was nothing.
Starting around lunchtime, I began feeling sick. I was trying stay composed, but I couldn’t, so I quickly excused myself and ran to the latrine. Notice that I didn’t say bathroom. Throughout the rest of the day, all I did was get sick over and over. In the middle of the night on one of my many trips, Faz, from Cristo Rey Dallas, came out of the room and came to check up on me. (His real name is Andrew, but I called him by his last name, Faz.) That really warmed my heart, because this is someone I met the day prior already checking up on me.
I went to the doctor the next day and spent the next few days recovering until it was time to build the court. I was doing it all from shoveling, to picking rocks, to wheelbarrowing cement. At one point, the local cement guys said that the girls should leave the shoveling to the men. After that comment, the girls found the nearest shovels, some being snatched out of some of the boys’ hands, and got to work. That was a very inspiring part of the trip. It was basically like that for a few days.
After we finished the court, we went to meet the president of Querétaro, the state where Torbellino was. She thanked us for the work we did. Then we went to a mineral spring as a cultural experience. It was beautiful and the waterfall was gorgeous.
After an overnight stay in a hotel, it was time to go to the airport. Everyone went their separate ways: we went back to Brooklyn and Dallas went back to Texas. It was kind of sad to say goodbye, but Mexico will forever be in my heart after this trip.
David Dumas – Cristo Rey Brooklyn
“This trip has made me see that the world is trying to tell us that despite the many dark things in the world, there’s always light. You just have to choose to see it.” – Andrea, Cristo Rey Dallas student
“I learned some important life lessons from the community of Torbellino, such as unity. When we needed water to make concrete, the community members donated their water to see this court be completed. This was not the noble act of one or two members of the community, it was everyone in the community that gave us the water. They all united to see the bigger goal be completed.” – Christopher, Cristo Rey Brooklyn chaperone
“I have learned to appreciate all the things that may parents do for me. All the sacrifices that they have made for me have shaped me into who I am today.” – Kate, Cristo Rey Dallas student
“Learning about a new culture and living a new way of life will truly be unforgettable.” – James, Cristo Rey Brooklyn student
“The most difficult part of going home is going back to my old routine. I don’t see the water, the bed, the bathroom, and the entertainment the same anymore. I see that not everyone has it as easy as me. I want to go home and change my old life.” – Jasmin, Cristo Rey Dallas student
“What I learned about myself is that I really like doing service work. While being on the trip, I realized that it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I still felt the joy in my heart of saying that I was building a court.” – Angela, Cristo Rey Dallas student