Parents speak out |

Parents speak out

Dear Editor:

John Colson wrote a thoughtful article presenting Bob Guion’s concerns about Aspen school children traveling to Mexico (“Parent: Should Aspen students be sent to ‘war zone’?, May 5). As some of the parents and teachers who just returned from Chihuahua on Sunday, we felt compelled to offer another viewpoint on the “risks” of the trip.

We appreciate parents who voice their concerns for children’s safety. None of us want our children to be in a high-risk situation. Having just completed the trip, there didn’t appear to be any safety issues while in Mexico. We safely crossed the border at a very public crossing in Juarez.

After careful planning and research into the safety of the towns we were visiting and the border we were crossing, the school administration and teachers felt that it was safe for us to travel to Mexico. Their trust in the children’s safety proved to be supported upon returning from an incident-free trip. This trip was the fourth trip on which Peter Westcott has taken his sixth-grade class with Matt Fields’ class joining this year. Peter knows the communities we visited in Mexico well.

The purpose of the trip was to teach our children service life skills. We traveled to a relatively poor part of Mexico to paint, install computers, build a stage for theatrical performances, install kitchens and build bookshelves for three local schools. All 85 (44 children and 41 adults) of us worked long days fixing up these schools ” making them a brighter, more education-friendly environment for the children to learn.

The children from Aspen immersed themselves in a different culture, saw the simplicity of the Mexicans’ lives and walked away knowing they made a difference in other school children’s lives. With new compassion for our Mexican neighbors, the trip was truly life-changing for many of us.

We commend the school for carefully weighing the risks and benefits of this unique experience. Clearly the benefits outweighed the risks. It is our hope that the school will continue to offer these service learning trips as long as the countries are considered safe in which to travel. These experiential education trips will be remembered long after our children graduate from high school and will have a positive part in shaping their lives.

Lisa Chiles, Basalt

Brandy VON Weissenstein, Aspen

Kathryn Grant, Woody Creek

Molly Kridel, Carbondale

Kris Ferguson, Snowmass Village

Jason Pfeifer, Basalt

Matt Fields, Aspen

Jamie Mahaffey, Old Snowmass

Steve and Ramsey Kropf, Aspen

Susan and Roger Marolt, Snowmass Village

Candice Christensen, Aspen

Randy Ready, Aspen

Michael Voss, Aspen

Barbe Chambliss, Carbondale

Cheryl Sovich, Aspen Village

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