Megan Good, a junior San Damiano Scholar majoring in Spanish education, is spending her summer teaching at Valley of the Angels, an orphanage in Guatemala. She designed the internship and made it happen after traveling to the orphanage on an Alternative Break mission trip last summer.
It was during her very first mission trip in high school that Megan discovered her passion for serving others.
“I just fell in love with service, getting to help people and seeing them where they are rather than sending items or raising money,” Megan said.
From that first trip, she spent her high school summers traveling to Appalachia on mission trips.
“I felt the best way to minister to people was by spending time with them and maybe helping repair their back deck or replacing screens,” Megan said. “Acts of love.”
During her freshman year at Marian University, a classmate approached Megan about an Alternative Break trip to Guatemala. She hadn’t considered a mission trip out of the country, but they needed more people to go; so, she decided to go for it.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to be a huge experience that is really going to change me in any way, but it will be fun,’” Megan recalled.
But, being in Guatemala, spending time with the young girls and boys brought to the orphanage by difficult circumstances, praying and reflecting throughout the experience, Megan found herself deeply connected to the place and planning her next summer in Guatemala.
Her academic advisor, Carla Castaño, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish, happened to be on the trip as well and Megan asked if she could come back next summer and get academic credit for it. Castaño was on board.
That same summer, Megan was back on campus for resident assistant (RA) training and the San Damiano Scholars retreat when Fr. Michael Della Penna, OFM (who runs the orphanage) came to speak to San Damiano Scholars. When Megan asked Fr. Michael about coming down the next summer to teach, he responded enthusiastically.
“I would hire you in a second and we would love to have you and have you spend more time with the kids,” Megan recalls Fr. Michael saying.
When she seemed surprised, he responded, “This is how God works.”
She worked with her academic advisor and staff at the orphanage to create an internship for the next summer and even received a grant to cover the experience.
Megan began her internship in May, traveling down with this year’s group of Alternative Break students.
She spends her days teaching students English in the classroom and perfecting her Spanish while she tutors and plays with the students after class.
“I really hope to gain a better understanding of the culture and the language,” Megan said. “I would like to get a better grasp of Spanish, but also help kids learn English and be able to teach.”
Considering Alternative Break? Megan has some advice.
“Go! It is an awesome experience,” Megan said. “The point of alternative break is to encounter people. Be open and be present wherever you go.”
Who knows where it will lead you.