On March 10, 74 students and 13 chaperones left KO for the 21st annual Team Tobati trip. The trip to Tobati, Paraguay was originally created to build the Colegio Privado Reinaldo Macchi school. Since the first trip in 1998, the trip has been more and more successful.
While in Tobati, the students did a mixture of interacting with the kids from the Macchi school, having fun with housemates and group mates, and community service work.
Originally, the point of the trip was to build a school for the poorest kids in Tobati. Now that the school has been built, the service work focuses mostly on other things. Some activities that groups did were painting classrooms at the Macchi School, visiting public schools in and around Tobati to hand out toothbrushes, and working at brick factories.
The students on the trip were put into work groups of around 10 kids from KO, and about 10 from the Macchi school. This combination of students allowed kids from KO and from Paraguay to bond and get to know each other. “I’m still in touch with some of the kids in my group through WhatsApp,” junior Winston Ware said.
Sophomore Snehaa Ram said she made a lot of friends. “Everyone down there was so genuine and down to earth, and it was so refreshing,” she said.
As well as the students, each work group consisted of two chaperones, ranging from KO alums to current KO teachers. “One of the most memorable things about this trip was the group of chaperones we had,” sophomore Emma Henry said. “I got close to a lot of the people who were living with me and working with me. Being able to meet people who graduated from KO and to have shared experiences with them is something you only see in Tobati, and is one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had so far.”
Despite plenty of physical labor, students were also given some free time to do what they want, and students had lots of fun memories that didn’t involve working. “I will always cherish the friendships I made and the daily trips to [the local ice cream shop] for passionfruit ice cream,” sophomore Christina Lu said.
Unlike past trips, this year’s trip to Tobati had a lot of rainy days. But despite the rain, students still found ways to have fun. A lot of activities that took place outdoors were moved inside or rescheduled, and coordinators of the trip found ways to work around it. For example, students went to the national church of Paraguay, a new trip this year that was rewarding for many. The annual pool party still happened, in spite of the weather.
A favorite memory among many students were the truck rides to and from daily activities. Students rode on the backs of pickup trucks in order to get places, something that many people haven’t done. “The truck rides were unmatched to anything I’ve ever done,” Snehaa said . “It was easily my favorite part; bumping all types of music, talking to the Paraguayans, I loved every bit.”
One thing that students enjoyed about their work and housing groups is that they were paired with people from KO who they didn’t always get the chance to talk to often.
While students could write who they wanted to be with, the work groups were mixed up in order to get people communicating. “Overall I really enjoyed getting to interact with people I otherwise wouldn’t have,” sophomore Geethika Chandragiri said.
Many students enjoyed the trip so much that they have convinced others to come next year, and excitement for next year’s trip has already started. “Some of my friends went to Team Tobati this year,” sophomore Evan Banning said. “And they all told me how great the trip was. I’m so excited to get the opportunity to go in the future.”