While most college students enjoy spring break on the beaches of Florida or Texas, two members of the Spring Hill College men's soccer team spent their vacation helping families in Central America through the school's Immersion Program.
Junior midfielder Nick Smith of Huntsville, Ala. and sophomore goalkeeper Jacob Files from Clinton, Miss. went in separate directions geographically during their travels, but in the end they arrived at the same destination spiritually.
Smith journeyed to Belize City, Belize with nine other Spring Hill students and two faculty members to work with Hand-in-Hand Ministries where they built an 8' x 16' wooden house for an elderly lady. During the week, they raised the walls, put up zinc roofing and installed plumbing with the help of local Belizeans. Later, they stopped by an outreach center for children with HIV/AIDS and visited with the children.
During their free time, the Badger volunteers visited an ancient Mayan city and snorkeled in the Caribbean.
Files visited Managua, Nicaragua where along with eight other students he worked in the mornings with Hand In Hand Ministries helping to build concrete housing for a family. In the afternoons, the group toured the city, talked to families that were a part of the private education provided by the Hand In Hand organization or supervised the Hand In Hand children at a local swimming pool. Of course, Files also got to play a little soccer with the kids and says he had a great time on that particular evening and it was hard to say goodbye.
For both Smith and Files, their most memorable part of the journey was helping families in need. "My favorite part of the trip was bonding with the family of the house that we built," said Files. "It was great seeing that we had such a big impact on their lives. They were all extremely nice and were very appreciative of our work. They surprised us and came to the airport to say goodbye to us one last time."
"I was able to interact and work with several people from Belize who were at an extreme level of poverty," said Smith. "But despite their conditions, they were always able to put a smile on their face, laugh and enjoy life. This attitude led me to realize that happiness does not come from material success, but from faith and from the people with whom you choose to surround yourself."