Señor Silvestre’s field trip to Buchanan is a rewarding, inspirational experience

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For many years, the students of Spanish teacher Carlos Silvestre have been serving the adorable, young children of Buchanan Elementary. This past Friday, Spanish students boarded buses with bags of warm winter coats and gear to supply to the little students who often find themselves in need of these warmer clothes throughout the up-coming winter months. 

Thirteen years ago, Silvestre was searching for a way to provide his students an opportunity to serve the Grand Rapids community. As service has always been an important aspect of Silvestre’s personal life, the desire to instill it within his class needed to be fulfilled. 

“I started talking to members of my church in the area, and many of them were teachers at the Spanish speaking schools, so I asked them what I could do to help out,” Silvestre said. “They suggested that we could help with bringing coats, books, or winter apparel for kids because they often lack these things.”

To Silvestre, this idea sounded like the perfect combination of curriculum and service; his students could help by purchasing goods for the less-privileged children in schools that are dominated by Spanish speakers. 

After the first trip to Buchanan Elementary proved successful, Silvestre decided to make the trip a biannual event. In the fall, students bring the little ones warm winter coats and gear, and in the spring, they bring bags full of books. 

“All of the little ones are so adorable, so that is one reason I think the students enjoy the trips so much,” Silvestre said. “I feel like it is rewarding for them to see the smile on some of these children’s faces and see that they are actually helping someone in a way that makes them feel nice, cozy, and warm.”

For students, the trip to Buchanan Elementary is often a highlight of the school year. The feeling of helping others in need is extremely rewarding, and the happiness the students feel following the visit inspires them to serve others in the community as much as they possibly can.

 “I felt like I had made a difference in the kids’ lives,” sophomore Abby Drueke said. “I was really happy because all of the kids were so sweet, and I had such a fun time with them.”

Due to the lower average-income of many of the students’ families, some of the children at Buchanan are simply are not able to get their hands on quality winter gear. With the bitter cold of Michigan, coats are truly a necessity, so FHC’s Spanish students are given the perfect opportunity to learn the importance of community service through providing these children things they need but struggle to come by. 

“My kid, and all the others around, loved receiving the coats,” Abby said. “A few even mentioned that they thought they weren’t going to get one this year and were so happy that they got a coat and that is was in their favorite color.”

To me, community service is important because it helps the world go round. When you help someone, it will inspire them to help others too.”

Alongside the students and Silvestre, many parents attend the field trip to the elementary school. This year more than others, Silvestre saw a huge amount of support from parents who were eager to help in any way.

“This year, the parents response really surprised me,” Silvestre said. “There were at least two parents per class, and I think maybe even more. They were definitely very helpful in the classrooms and with all of the kids.”

After meeting their elementary school child and giving them their coat, students from the Spanish classes helped the kids do activities such as making graphs and coloring. Every student—young and old—was provided a chocolate chip cookie and a juice box. The little ones were also able to test out their new winter gear and play on the playground before the high schoolers departed. 

Giving the children their jackets proved a rewarding feeling for the high school students. Seeing the joy it brought out of the adorable, young kids causes the students to build an instant admiration for the young ones they are serving. 

“When I gave the kids their coats, their faces lit up with excitement,” junior Sam Musgraves said. “To me, community service is important because it helps the world go round. When you help someone, it will inspire them to help others too.”

Seeing the interaction of the Buchanan students with his own brings so much joy to Silvestre. As he feels that service is his way of life, seeing his students strive to do the same is what makes the trip worthwhile. 

“I see my job as more than just being a Spanish teacher,” Silvstre said. “I feel like I have the responsibility to teach my students more than just Spanish, and I think the trip is a good opportunity to take the curriculum outside of the school setting and teach students that they are in this world to serve others.”