Athletics News

Guatemala Service Trip Overflows With Passion and Insight
July 14, 2017

PARRAMOS, Guatemala – On the final full day of the Blue Demons’ week-long service trip at the Casa San Andres children’s home, there was more landscaping and planting of trees in preparation for a special festival on Saturday.

They also had one last opportunity to play with the children in the playgrounds, participate in a game of indoor floor hockey and have a farewell dinner at a special needs house. Thursday ended with a memorable final reflection.

Here is the last entry in the Guatemala journal from Ben Gutman of Athletics Academic Advising as the group headed home on Friday.

Day Six

I am biased. I need that to be stated up front. I truly believe that I am lucky enough to work with amazing student-athletes at a great institution every day. That being said, the experience that I have had this week with the team on the DePaul Athletics Service Immersion Trip has blown me away.

As one of the leaders along with Tom Judge of University Mission, maybe I should have felt that I did a good job of imparting the wisdom of the world on our student-athletes. But I can safely say if I had even half the impact they had on me, I am more than satisfied. I want to provide an accurate picture into the week of service and cultural immersion that we all experienced, but it isn’t easy to put into words.  

It is difficult to paint a picture of Kelly Campbell’s competitiveness whether in her determination to work hard at the chores assigned or in winning a game of indoor floor hockey where her attitude started out quite nonchalant.

The size of the smiles that Amani Hardrict exchanges with the children here must be seen to be believed. Sonia Johnson’s passion to help others in her words and deeds was being molded in front of all our eyes.

Anton Sell’s thirst for knowledge about the culture led to fearlessly asking questions of scholars and professionals in both English and Spanish---neither of which are the native tongue of this soccer player from Germany.

The wit, friendship, and genius of Ronnie Griggs was always present not only for the team, but also for every Guatemalan that we encountered. I looked up to Sebastian Feyersinger as a man on a mission to serve in any way he could from dawn until late in the evening.

The children flocked to the positivity, smile and naturally caring nature of Elizabeth Parrilli. No one seemed to soak up information, be truly inspired and immediately live it like Vanessa Nigg.

The insight that chaplain Tom Judge was able to extract from the group was deeper than I could have imagined. Joe Hanel lived freely without the pressures of academics or future endeavors. I observed what I thought was his true nature in action---a selfless, gregarious, loving leader and servant.

This is only a small glimpse of what I was fortunate to experience this week with our student-athletes. They showed me how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and positive in all situations. Any fear that they would not commit to the spirit of the trip dissipated on the drive from the airport in Guatemala City. Their passion to serve was infectious and competitive as you might expect from highly motivated student-athletes.

Gaining new insight and a fresh perspective were even more important than the small amount of recreation that we enjoyed. Their love for others shined in everything that we did.

Reflecting on this remarkable journey that we shared, I return to Chicago and DePaul with a greater insight into two cultures---Guatemala and my DePaul Athletics family.

I couldn’t be more proud to work, travel and live with such an amazing group of student-athletes, and I know that because of them, the world will continue to be a better place for all of us.
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