Students gain new viewpoint

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Berryville sixth-graders saw the world from a new perspective during their stay at the Heifer Ranch.

Delene McCoy, grade 6-12 gifted and talented teacher, took her sixth-grade class on a trip to the Heifer Ranch in Perryville last Monday, Sept. 12, to participate in Heifer International's Global Gateway Program.

Heifer International describes the Global Gateway Program on its website as an opportunity for participants to experience some of the daily struggles people in poverty face every day. By having students participate in daily life activities such as preparing meals and doing chores, the webpage says that Heifer International hopes to inspire them to take action in their own lives that will positively impact the environment and the world around them.

Sixth-graders Daniela Arrizon, Jake Wilson, Issy Knapik, Parker Smith, Garret Moody, Karson Deatherage, Nate Allen, Shayleigh Broeker, Tayvyn Putman, Whitney Taylor, Chet Hudgens, Cole Price, Jack Dignam, Lily Geren, Taryn Ballard, Alyvia Scroggins, Misael Martinez, Emma Hall, Mia Thurman and Alyssa Reed all took part in the Global Gateway Program next week.

The students gathered in a circle in McCoy's classroom on Friday to discuss their experiences and what they learned from the trip.

The students said they were separated into different village sites including Guatemala, the slums and a refugee camp. Each site held unique obstacles for the students, representing the impoverished conditions in other parts of the world.

Chet Hudgens said that the refugee group had the least advantages.

"We got sorted into countries when we got there, and each group got different supplies," he said. "Our village didn't get any supplies. We didn't get any food or matches, and the water supply was like half a mile away."

Emma Hall was also part of the refugee village and said the sleeping conditions were her least favorite part.

"We had a little cabin but no mattresses, so we had to sleep on the floor," she said. "There was one uneven board right in the middle of my back while I was sleeping. My back is still sore."

Mia Thurman said she was sorted into the Slums village. Their group was responsible for making breakfast and dinner for everyone, she said, but did not have any kitchen appliances to help.

"We had to use matches to get the fires started, but we couldn't one morning," she said. "So we weren't able to make breakfast."

Lily Geren said she was part of the Guatemala village. She said their village had mattresses, water rights and a few other amenities.

"It didn't feel as much like we were living in a different country. All we were really without was the food and air conditioning," Geren said. "Everyone thought we had it easy, but it still wasn't that fun compared to what we're used to having."

Whitney Taylor said some students also received life cards which gave them extra challenges, such as having a disability or a child to look after. Alyvia Scroggins said the students assigned to be parents had to wear aprons with big water balloons in the pouches to represent babies.

"You had to carry it around with you everywhere you went," Scroggins said. "Some people popped people's babies to get revenge for them stealing resources."

"One person's baby popped during the first 10 minutes," Taylor said. "When that happened, you had to sit and mourn the baby in silence for 30 minutes."

While the students left with bug bites, bruises and other complaints from the tough conditions of the ranch, they also left with a better understanding of what it's like for people surviving in impoverished conditions every day.

Taryn Ballard said the limited resources available at the ranch resulted in a lot of conflict between the different village sites.

"Some people were popping balloon babies, and others were stealing food," he said. "We went kind of wild."

Shayleigh Broeker said she learned that illness and injury are hard to avoid when people are struggling just to have food or shelter.

"I learned there would be sickness a lot in those conditions," she said. "One person in our group threw up twice during the trip. Others got colds or nosebleeds."

Issy Knapick said the trip has changed how she sees events from other countries depicted in the news.

"I learned that in a lot of those countries you have to fight against a lot of different groups and challenges to survive," she said.

Jack Dignam said the trip made him more appreciative of the advantages he has.

"We should be thankful for what we have because people living in those conditions don't know what they're going to have next week," he said.

Hudgens said the scarcity of resources is what led him and other students to try to steal food from other groups.

"The reason I kept stealing was because we were the ones who didn't get any supplies," he said. "I knew we weren't going to eat that night unless we got supplies from somewhere."

The students said they enjoyed their trip to the Heifer Ranch and would try to focus more on cooperation if they ever went back.

"There were times where we would get really mad at each other," Taylor said, "but later you just had to laugh about it. By the end, we all kind of worked together as one team."

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