Leila Wynnyckyj On Her Trip to Haiti with Sewickley Academy

I began attending Sewickley Academy (SA) my sophomore year of high school and was fortunate to join the Global Studies Program. Outside of Canada and multiple cities throughout the United States, I have not been many places. I met Matt Teitelbaum shortly after coming to SA and he was the one who inspired me to go on my first trip to Haiti. Matt was so passionate about the trip, so thoughtful and sincere with his words about his mission, that I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The trip was unfortunately cut short due to government turmoil happening around the Haitian elections, but our time in Haiti was very impactful and made a profound influence on me. What struck me most in Haiti was the poverty. I know I am naive to think I could make a difference, but I am committed to try and be a force for good and provide Haiti the relief it needs.

The next year, I made it my mission to pick up where Matt left off, to make the trip back to Haiti happen. Despite my best efforts, we could not secure enough students to go. The end results provided me the needed motivation to try harder again in my senior year.

With the help and support of Mrs. Peluso, I raised awareness, planned meetings, and executed a fundraiser. The result was a waiting list of those who got the message and wanted to participate. I was very eager to make the trip with my peers. We said so the day we left in the airport and I can say today, we could not have asked for a better group. I was able to share my beloved Haiti with them. I laughed harder than I ever have in my life, I cried tears of anger and pain at some of the sites we witnessed, some of the most horrible circumstances we heard about. We bonded as people, as students, as friends. I learned so much about myself the days, weeks, and months leading up to and throughout the trip. I came home sick as a dog due to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, but I would do it all again. Through the trip, I met extraordinary people, from the organization Work: Vivien Luk and Christina Marsico, that accompanied us on the trip and have worked tirelessly to change Haitians lives for the better. They have inspired me and changed the way I view life too. These experiences will be the springboard to create the change I want to make in the world. I know I will return to Haiti, and I hope the others who went on the trip will too. I am strengthened by these people and these experiences, and I am proud of what we have accomplished and what we are still striving to accomplish.

To me, Haiti is a place I love. A place I miss when I am not there and a place I long to return to everytime I leave.  

Vivien Luk