My Experiences on the New York Mission Trip


All Images courtesy of Maura Ward

Maura Ward '17, Staff Writer

From June 7th to June 13th, I went on the mission trip to New York.  The trip began with a mass in OC’s chapel to set the tone for a week that was a lot more fun than I expected it to be.  I went because I wanted to go to New York City.  I knew it was a time to snag some volunteer hours for the crucial junior service project, but I just really wanted to go to New York City!  However, by the end of the trip, I ended up feeling a new sense of my own privilege as I witnessed little children and their families living without the things I take for granted, and an improved sense of spiritually over the course of the trip.

The journey to White Plains, where the convent of the Sisters of Divine Compassion is located, was a long one, and we were all tired by dinner time on Sunday night.  After meeting with our small group mates, we retreated to bed.  The first three days were spent working with children in one of many places to volunteer in Port Chester, NY, a 15-minute ride from White Plains.  My group was stationed at the Carver Center.  Downstairs, there was a daycare, and upstairs, I helped Ms. Josie and Ms. Vanessa in the Head Start Program.  

On the first day, I was scared that the children were not going to like me, but by the last day, they had really warmed up to me!  The program upstairs was like a preschool, so all the classes had specific times to play inside and to play on the playground.  When the playground was not available at the time, we played in the gym.  I had an exhausting time with the kids because I was always “it” when we played tag.  Maybe I’m just not a very fast runner.  Even so, I’m so happy I was able to run around, play with blocks, and read stories to the kids.  On the Thursday we went into New York City, the Carver Center was having an art show of all the kids’ drawing and paintings.  I was sad that we could not come back to see the art show.

The Carver Center provided breakfast and lunch to the kids who came for the morning session and lunch and dinner for the kids who came for the afternoon session.  It was part of my job as a helper to help clean and set the tables.  Ms. Josie and Ms. Vanessa would always offer leftovers to the parents coming in to pick up their children.  Seeing the parents gratefully accept the food made me realize two things: the difference in the lifestyles of these families from my own and the positive impact a place like the Carver Center has on the community.  

As the week went on, our small groups had bonding time.  I was the only junior in my small group, but I felt closer to the senior leaders as well as the sophomores in my group as we shared stories about the kids we met on the trip and about our high school experiences.  The small groups met on Monday and Wednesday night.  Wednesday night was sad because we all shared what we would miss about the kids.  Zoya Domashnev, one of my group mates, said that her experience was, “fulfilling and exciting,” and “a big insight into a world beyond [her] own.”  Aside from small group bonding, the mission trip gave us the opportunity to grow individually in faith.  

The trip gave everyone an opportunity to grow spiritually.   Mass was held every day, including the NYC fun day.  Tuesday night was a night of Adoration and reflection.  We listened to a speech and were allowed to sit in the chapel for as long as we needed to, up until 11:00 at night.  Fr. Mark heard confessions on both Tuesday and Wednesday night.  On Wednesday night, we had a candle lighting ceremony in which we went around in a circle so that each one of us could say what our favorite thing about the trip was.  I said that my favorite part was playing with a kid named Steve and a barrel of fake bugs.  The ceremony, where we all listened to each other’s individual experiences, started and concluded with prayer.  The solemn spiritual tone of Wednesday night gave way to an exciting and tiring day in NYC on Thursday.

I think the New York City portion of the trip could be displayed most effectively through a series of pictures that I, an amateur iPhone photographer, took on that day, June 12th.  We went to the 9/11 Memorial first, then to Soho for about 6 hours of shopping, then to mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and finally to a dinner at Carmine’s right off Times Square.

Trade Center copy
One World Trade Center
Reflecting pool at Ground Zero
Work was being done on the inside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral – the scaffolding is pictured here
Outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Times Square
Times Square

It was…better than the American Girl Store.

If anyone is considering whether or not to go on the New York Mission Trip, I hope my description of what we did and how it made me feel aids you in making that decision.  My time on the mission trip taught me so many things, and I still have artwork the kids made me hanging in my room.  That week meant so much to me, and I hope you, reader who has stuck with me through the end of this long article, will join us next year!