Alumni Spotlight: Gregory Semplice

Greg is a Spanish teacher at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut. He loves to travel and has been on student trips to Puerto Rico, Spain, and most recently, Peru.

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Why did you choose this program?

Five days before the Peru trip departed, our Director of Activities called to say that two of the original chaperones had to bow out and asked if I would be willing to go because, 1) I speak Spanish, 2) I've traveled internationally with students before, and 3) I take a lot of pictures. Of course I said yes!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I was not involved with the original planning but from what I could see, EdOdyssey did a very thorough job in providing all the necessary information and materials to our travelers. Mr. Peter McGovern made several visits to our school and met with the students and their parents to ensure that they would be well prepared to travel.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Listen to all the advice from group leaders, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Pack conservatively, and leave games and such at home. Don't forget a camera, be prepared to work, and don't be afraid to give your heart and soul to the people you will meet because they will surely give you theirs.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Our Peru trip was a combination of tourism and mission work. We visited many of the cultural and historic sites in Lima. We also visited the very poor village of Jicamarca and spent the day with the students of Colegio Corazón de Jesus. We traveled to another poor area, Los Pinos, and helped them build stairs. Overall, I found the mission work to be the most satisfying.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I wouldn't call it a fear, but my biggest concern was wondering how I would adapt and prepare for this trip considering that I only found out that I was going about five days before we departed. Once we arrived and met our tour leaders and began to get involved with the people we met, my worries disappeared.

What was the most unforgettable story from your trip?

The most moving story from our trip happened on the day that we were helping the villagers of Los Pinos build cement stairs. A teenage Peruvian girl named Meche was working with us. One of our girls, Sam, was wearing a new windbreaker and Meche, as any teen girl would, commented that it was a nice jacket. Without hesitating, Sam took off the jacket and gave it to Meche as a gift. We were all close to tears because of Sam's generosity.