The original reason for starting this blog was to keep family and friends (namely, my parents) informed that I’m still alive and updated on what I’ve been up to. I quite frequently find myself answering the question of “where are you?” and after two decades of various adventures, I finally started documenting them during the summer of 2016.
My gallivanting began with my trip to visit family in Ireland when I was 8 weeks old, includes spending a summer building a bridge in Bolivia with my Engineers Without Borders team and subsequently studying in Spain for a year, and currently continues with my recent move to Ireland to start my first full-time job.
My mom is from Ireland — she grew up in Dublin — so I’ve visited so many times that I’ve now lost count. It has always been my second home.
My Grandpa (my paternal grandfather) is Chilean, so much of my dad’s side of the family is still there. I visited once when I was a toddler and twice when I was in high school.
My uncle, one of my mom’s brothers, lives in Northampton with his family. We visited one summer while we were in Ireland, and to date I’ve spent two Christmases with them (my only two away from home): once while I was studying in Spain, and most recently after I moved to Ireland.
I went on my first mission trip here with my high school in February 2014. In St. Anne’s Bay we helped dig a pit for a community toilet, poured concrete, leveled ground, and built benches for the new community center under construction, and spent a day visiting residents at a home for disabled adults.
The Dominican Republic
In June 2014 I went on a mission trip with the Diocese of Orlando to our sister Diocese in Las Lomas in the Dominican Republic. We went in small groups to four elementary/middle schools (La Cucarita, Los Fríos, Los Guayuyos, and El Montazo) to teach interactive English lessons as a fun way to review what they’d learned that year, and to give the teachers a small break. This is part of a larger framework in which the Diocese of Orlando sponsors several Dominican students each year (those who have the best academic performance) to attend one of the Catholic high schools within the Diocese, which gives them the opportunity to attend an American university. The hope is that they will then return to the DR and use their experiences and skills to serve their respective communities.
Cornell Catholic (the campus ministry at Cornell) used to do an annual mission trip to San Lucas Tolimán. I say used to because unfortunately the year I went, March 2015, ended up being the last one. A local (superhuman) woman continually sponsors a child who lives there, so she would lead a group of students and our campus priest during each Spring Break. Normally the students would help with small local construction projects, volunteer at the local women’s center, and simply be of help wherever possible. In 2015 the break happened to coincide with Easter, so because no one in the community was actually working, our tasks were simply spending time with the community members, preparing food and alfombras, and carrying el andén in the Good Friday procession.
Toronto the first time was a rather last minute decision when a few friends invited me to go with them during Cornell’s Fall Break my sophomore year (Oct. 2015). The second time was when I went with other friends to a Sisters of Life retreat, after a miraculous recovery from a food poisoning-esque illness the previous day (March 2018).
At the beginning of my sophomore year of college I joined Cornell’s Engineers Without Borders student chapter. We spent the year designing a pedestrian bridge and 8 of us traveled to Calcha, Bolivia during the summer of 2016 to help the community build it. Along with two others, I returned in June 2018 for a final trip to monitor and inspect all implemented projects, collect data, speak with members of the community, and officially close out the five year program that was agreed upon by our team and the community. To this day many of us maintain the relationship(s) we formed between both individuals and the team and community.
I studied at the University of Cantabria in Santander for two semesters, from August 2016 to May 2017.
I met up with one of my best friends from college, who was studying in Lyon, in Paris and stayed with my mom’s childhood friend (Oct. 2016), and I made a pilgrimage to Lourdes the week after Easter with a group from Santander, which was part four of my Easter Break while in Spain, March 2017.
A classmate and I traveled to Lisbon in Oct. 2016, and 2HP’s annual “Continuous Professional Development” trip was to Porto (Sept. 2018).
My first, and still only trip to Eastern Europe. The original reason for visiting Kraków was to visit Auschwitz at the recommendation of my high school AP European History teacher, and it ended up being my most unexpectedly favorite place (Dec. 2016).
Part 1 of my Easter Break, I traveled to Vienna with a good friend from Cornell who came to visit me for her Spring Break (March 2017).
Part 2 of my Easter Break was in Budapest (pronounced Buda-pesht, I learned) (March 2017).
Part 3, and by far the best part of my Easter Break was spending Holy Week in Rome, receiving personal tours from a Cornell friend who was studying there for a semester, attending all the Holy Week masses, services, and events, and befriending a group of amazing seminarians (Americans placed in Rome for their last few years of formation before ordination) along the way (March 2017).