Senior Successes: Leila Leads a Service Trip to Haiti
By: Leila Wynnyckyj '18
Haiti. It is NOT the regrettable phrase the President of United States allegedly used to describe it.
If one types “Haiti” into the Google search bar multiple articles are written about how beautiful a country it is, but Haiti also has its problems like their corrupt orphanages and costs associated with Haitian adoption requirements. To me, Haiti is a place I love. A place I miss when I am not there and a place I long to return to every time I leave.
I began attending Sewickley Academy (SA) my sophomore year of high school and was fortunate to join the Global Studies Program. Outside of Canada and multiple cities throughout the United States, I have not been many places. I met Matt Teitelbaum ’16 shortly after coming to SA and he was the one who inspired me to go on my first trip to Haiti. Matt was so passionate about the trip, so thoughtful and sincere with his words about his mission, that I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The trip was unfortunately cut short due to government turmoil happening around the Haitian elections, but our time in Haiti was very impactful and made a profound influence on me. What struck me most in Haiti was the poverty. I know I am naive to think I could make a difference, but I am committed to try and be a force for good and provide Haiti the relief it needs.
The next year, I made it my mission to pick up where Matt left off, to make the trip back to Haiti happen. Despite my best efforts, we could not secure enough students to go. The end results provided me the needed motivation to try harder again in my senior year.
With the help and support of Senior School history teacher Mrs. Peluso, I raised awareness, planned meetings, and executed a fundraiser. The result was a waiting list of those who got the message and wanted to participate. I was very eager to make the trip with my peers. We could not have asked for a better group! I was able to share my beloved Haiti with them. I laughed harder than I ever have in my life, I cried tears of anger and pain at some of the sites we witnessed and some of the most horrible circumstances we heard about. We bonded as people, as students, as friends. I learned so much about myself in the days, weeks, and months leading up to and throughout the trip. I came home sick as a dog due to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, but I would do it all again. Through the trip, I met extraordinary people who have changed the way I view life. These opportunities will be the springboard to create the change I want to make in the world. I know I will return to Haiti, and I hope the others who went on the trip will too. I am strengthened by my peers and our experiences in Haiti. I am proud of what we have accomplished and what we are still striving to accomplish.