Reflections from Ecuador

By Matthew Person ’24, Joseph Martucci ’24, and William Clarke ’24 #XBCorps

Xaverian Global Encounter (XGE) trips are week-long service retreats offered during February and April breaks, in which students and faculty leaders serve the less fortunate and reflect on God’s presence in their daily lives. 

Stepping off the plane in Quito, Ecuador at around 10:00 p.m. Central Time, we didn’t really know what to expect. It was Sunday, April 16 and 12 Hawks stood at the airport ready to begin their Xaverian Global Encounter (XGE) service immersion trip. With our first breaths, the thin air hit us like a freight train. Ten thousand feet above sea level, Quito is situated in a valley within the Andes mountains. Our destination for the week was The Center: A Family of Families. It’s a school and social working site devoted to breaking the cycle of generational poverty. The Center prides itself on offering opportunities for those who are struggling in the community. It makes it possible for children to receive a quality education and for adults to become trained in trades such as carpentry or sewing. 

This XGE trip was centered around cultural immersion and gaining a sense of what other people in the world experience on a daily basis. The week was scheduled with a variety of activities, including some sightseeing combined with hands-on service work. On one of the days, we visited classrooms filled with overjoyed children whose emotion and enthusiasm inspired such gratitude in us. While we were supposed to be the ones helping them, their presence and demeanor made us feel like the beneficiaries that day. Through small activities like participating in class and visiting the playground, we experienced a profound feeling of happiness based not on materialism of everyday life but through the simplicity of being in the moment. 

On another day, we traveled to a part of the city that was high in the mountains. We were there to help a family from the Center build their house. This was certainly the most difficult part of the trip, but also very rewarding. We were separated into two groups: one had the task of mixing concrete while the other was removing a small hill and re-grading the land. There was no benefit of power tools; it was all done by hand. Eight hours of mixing concrete and moving earth does take a toll. However, with good music and the good spirits of the group members, it seemed to go by in a flash. We worked like machines and before long the entire floor of the house had been completed and that mound of dirt was completely gone. 

“We were pushed mentally and physically to accomplish our goal which required a great deal of collaboration,” says Mr. Conor Hawley ’13, Xaverian mathematics teacher and XGE chaperone. “But it’s amazing how working toward a common goal can unite people with very different personalities and backgrounds.”

While we only spent the week in Ecuador, it was a trip we won’t forget. The people we met and the stories we heard will forever impact the way that we look at our own lives. The Ecuadorian community’s embrace of us and their willingness to share their experiences and their compassion truly left a mark, and we are so grateful.
Xaverian is a Catholic, college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7-12. As an inclusive community, we embrace diverse experiences and perspectives, welcoming students and families from all faiths and backgrounds. Through exceptional academics, athletics, the arts, faith formation, and service opportunities, we help young men discover their unique gifts and talents so they can share them with a world in need.