Team Tobati returns after three-year hiatus


On March 12, KO students and faculty left for Tobati, Paraguay, for 10 days to work on service projects that benefit the Macchi School in Tobati. 

Team Tobati, an annual KO trip since 1998, allows students in the Upper School to help make a difference and connect with local kids from the Macchi School. 

A total of 56 students attended, along with nine faculty members, including Spanish teacher Ron Garcia, math teacher Denise Garcia, English teacher David Hild, school archivist Brenda Semmelrock, and Middle School Spanish teacher Duncan Insuik. There was an even spread of students with many from each form. 

Many students enjoyed meeting locals and the Macchi School students. “It was really great to work with the students of the Macchi School,” junior Chelsea O’Donnell said. 

Mr. Hild agreed. “The locals there are incredibly kind and always gracious to our group,” he said. 

 This year, the students worked on many projects, such as a soccer field, a foundation for a community center, a drainage canal, and a stone fence; they also painted desks and classrooms. “It was just really satisfying to see the work be done and then see the look on the student’s faces when we were done,” Chelsea said. 

Mr. Garcia was pleased with the response. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much positive emotions and feedback,” he said. 

Others had similar opinions, too. “I like the times when our kids in their work groups are working, playing or interacting with the Macchi school students,” Mr. Hild said. “Those are always really great experiences.” 

Mr. Garcia emphasized the significance of the connections the students formed. “Getting to know people their age from a different part of the world with a very different culture and academic reality,” he said, “everything’s just different.”

One of the highlights of the trip was a dance competition. Each work group, consisting of seven to eight KO students and 10 Macchi School students, had to create and choreograph a dance that would be performed at the end of the week. “You learn to dance, and then on Saturday night, you perform your dance in front of everyone,” junior Hana Haxhaj said. This was a different experience for most students who didn’t know how to dance. 

This trip was also special because it was the first year KO students and faculty returned to Tobati after a three year hiatus due to COVID-19. All students and some faculty were going for the first time ever. “I think this year was special because our students and the Macchi School students really appreciated it a little more since it was taken away the last few years,” Mr. Garcia said. 

Mr. Hild, who has gone five times before this trip, described this trip as different than his past experiences. “It felt different in the sense that everyone that went on it, except for those few people, it was a brand new trip to them,” Mr. Hild said. 

Chelsea looks forward to potentially going on the trip again next year. “I feel like next year going back would be very different because I kind of know what I’m getting myself into,” she said. “I feel like I could enjoy it in a different way.” 

The trip was a great success this year and many people want to go again. “I encourage students and faculty who did not do it this year to go sometime,” Mr. Hild said. “It’s incredibly worthwhile.”