Students Embark On Annual Mexico Trip


Mark Hsia, Assistant Editor

Two-hundred-fifty Piedmonters will embark on a trip to Mexico on April 9. The group of primarily students will not be spending their Spring Break on the beach. Instead, they will work alongside Amor Ministries in Tijuana to build 15 homes for impoverished Mexicans over the course of five days.

Applications for the trip were submitted in Nov. 2022. Volunteers have spent the following months attending “Rock” meetings, where they work on team building and learning to construct houses. 

“We bond together and try to get close so when we go down [to Mexico] we just work together well,” said senior and team leader Farris Saffouri. 

The volunteers are assigned to 15 separate teams with color designations in order to make the large task of building houses more manageable. As leader of the White Team, Saffouri is in charge of making sure the team can work together efficiently. 

Reverend Scott Kail is leading the trip this year, as he has for the past 20 years, with the trip filling up every year. This year, nearly 50 adults and 200 students, relatively evenly distributed among grades, will be participating.

Kail said the houses they build give the families an 80 percent better chance of survival, and provide a much better living alternative to their shelters of scrap wood and tarps. Kail says another reason he organizes this trip is for its impact on students. 

“It’s a really life changing opportunity. It provides a wonderful experience that causes students to become more benevolent, as well as to bring them to be more service oriented with compassion for those that don’t have enough,” Kail said.

Most students also have goals coming out of this trip. Saffouri said he wishes to ensure volunteers, while having fun, also remember the main point of the trip.

“I want to make sure people know that we’re really going down there to do service. That’s the main part of the trip. We want people to have fun in Mexico, but it’s mainly about what we’re bringing to these less fortunate families

We want people to have fun in Mexico, but it’s mainly about what we’re bringing to these less fortunate families.

— Farris Saffouri, senior team leader

,” Saffouri said.

Kail manages a budget of over $300,000, which comes primarily from the trip fee of $1800 for students and $800 for adult chaperones. This money is spent on travel, food, and housing expenses, as well as the materials for the houses which cost around $4,500 each.

“It does feel a little weird to pay for service but, after all, we are funding this trip and helping people in need,” Saffouri said.

While the trip is sponsored by the Piedmont Community Church, not all students attending have religious affiliation. Kail said he believes that despite not all volunteers being Christian, they can still all benefit from the spiritual nature of the trip.

“The nightly campfire talks I give are faith based, but given without expectation of a response. [Volunteers] seem to enjoy it, and are encouraged by it,” Kail said.

Saffouri said that the trip’s purpose is not to convert anyone involved.

“[Kail] is not trying to convert anybody, but there is a religious touch to it. I don’t take it super seriously, and it doesn’t bother me,” said Saffouri.