Student Travel Opportunities

Academy teachers host a number of student trips every year. These trips bring a deeper dimension to the classroom experience.

Italy 2018 student trip 

STA student trip to Italy planned for June 2018. The cost per student is $4,605 - this includes airfare, transportation, hotel, breakfasts and dinners, and 12 guided sightseeing tours during the stay.  This is a private customized tour just for STA & VIS students.

If you are at all interested, please contact Mr. Taraschi for details or questions. Or just enroll online - click here.

Costa Rica 2018 student trip

The dates are July 5 to July 15, 2018, with 8 days in the rain forest and 2 days on the beach.  There is an opportunity for Independent Study credit associated with this trip.  If you have any questions, please contact Sonya Jaworski at

VISTA Concert Band in Rome: March 12, 2017

VISTA Concert Band at Lake Como: March 16, 2017


2017 Guatemala Service Trip

IMG_0114.JPGDay 1: March 8
For the first day of our Spring Break we got up bright and early to in order to make the 6:25 flight to reach the connecting flight in Atlanta. Once we were on the international flight, the sights below gave us a slow and beautiful warm up for the trip to come. After landing, the initial bus ride out of Guatemala City was a rude awakening for the drastic difference in culture that was present here as opposed to the US. With buses constantly cruising within reach of each other and venders standing in the middle of the street on the highway, we were clearly in a separate reality. Leaving the City, we the entered the realm of the truly less fortunate. In San Lucas, however, laid our hotel which is in the middle of mountains on each side. We ended the day with basketball with the locals and a conclusive meeting on the roof of our hotel about the travel.
Day 2: March 9
On the morning of the second day of our trip, we were all awoken at 7 am sharp by our fearless trip leaders. We had to arrive to breakfast early to set up the food in preparation for the other groups on the trip. For breakfast we ate huevos rancheros, as well as some black beans and some rolls to go along. After breakfast, we all piled in the back of a pickup truck (which miraculously was able to hold 14 large men in the back) and went on a tour of the locations we would be visiting throughout the next week of our trip. This included the Women’s Center, the Hospital, the coffee storage facility, and the local school. After the tour, we returned for lunch, which included chicken, rice, and tortillas. When lunch ended we went back to our hotel to discover that the seniors had gotten a special surprise in their room. We then split off into two groups to do work on two separate houses. Tonight there is a talent show at the mission, and I'm sure that we will put on quite the performance for our fellow volunteers. Tomorrow I'm sure that many more adventures await.
By: Cam Cashin & Brett Zobel

Day 3: March 10
This morning we were awoken by the sun shining through our windows and the noise of roosters crowing. We got out of bed and went to breakfast, where we were fed oatmeal and black beans. Contrary to popular belief these two foods make an outstanding combo! Afterwards, we began the work assigned to us for today, which had been mixing and pouring concrete floors for a new home. The leader of this worksite, Juan, worked at a very quick pace and required of us to follow suit. Juan works for the mission and he is one of the most exacting, yet humble and kind people one could ever experience. The task at hand had been hot and messy, but it was extremely rewarding in the end, seeing as we created two floors.

When the work was done, we headed back to the mission for lunch. Lunch set us up for a nice little break, which we had taken advantage of in our hotel rooms. Then, Mr. Rome took us to the headquarters of the San Lucas reforestation project. We learned much about the efforts to slow pollution in guatemala. Trash lines the streets almost everywhere in San Lucas, and there are minimal efforts being made to fix this problem. After the hard work and thought-provoking discussion, we were able to play a soccer match with some of the locals. Much to our surprise, we discovered that we are pretty awful at soccer. This capped another fantastic day in Guatemala!

Hello Mom and Dad, hope you're having a great time in Florida! See you in a week. - Vinny
Mom and Dad, I miss you both and can't imagine you're enjoying yourselves without my presence. Keep holding down the fort! - RYAN

By: Vincent Motzel and Ryan Tracy

Day 4: March 11
We woke up at the usual time. After having a breakfast of Oatmeal and Beans, we hopped in the back of a pickup truck and drove to The Sleeping Elephant. This was a large mountain in which we hiked up to the summit. We did the hike in record breaking time, making it to the top in 30 minutes. This is with a large break in which Jack McNaney and Jack Muske became the first visitors to climb a 30 foot rock outcropping over a steep drop. This was an impressive feat due to the fact it was previously only accomplished by locals. After this we continued the climb to the top. Always motivating each other to continue up the mountain. Once at the top, we took pictures and relaxed.

Then we became the treacherous descent. Where multiple people slipped and caught themselves before plummeting down the mountain. Once reaching the bottom we saw our fearless leader Papa Rome relaxing in a pickup truck enjoying a cold Coke. Mr. Kenney spent the day talking with recovering addicts at the men´s center. After returning to San Lucas in the Pickup truck we went to lunch and enjoyed a lazy afternoon in the sun. Some went cliff jumping and others relaxed on the roof of our hotel. We went to dinner and there was a live music performance by some locals. It overall was a very fun and captivating day. Tonight we are going to the town square to school some locals in basketball.

By: Jack and Tim

Day 5: March 12
Once again, the STA students were woken up by the sound of roosters and dog barking early in the morning. Breakfast was later than normal due to chuch at 7:30. Going to a Spanish mass was special but we still understood what was happening because the mass is still celebrated the same way down here. The church was so full that people were sitting in the plaza in front of the main doors. Today was the best breakfast of the week; pancakes, eggs, refried beans, and rolls topped the list. Shortly after breakfast we meet our boat driver Pedro, and boated to two cities, Santiago and San Pedro.

Santiago was where most of the shopping took place. Favorite items were; Bags, Hammocks, Machetes, Knifes, Shirts. Sr. Rome mentioned that it is important to bargain as much as possible but have fun while doing it. Students turned it into a competition to see who could get the lowest price. After Santiago, everyone hopped on the boat and had a ten minute ride to San Pedro. The wise Sr. Rome said “San Pedro was where people go to forget about life.” He wasn't wrong about that. In San Pedro everyone was told to go get their own lunch. Juniors went to one restaurant and us three seniors to another. After lunch we took a quick stroll and saw interesting things and interesting people. At around 2:00, we all got on Pedro's boat and had an extremely  bumpy ride back. The winds picked up in San Pedro causing Lago de Atitlan (Lake Atitlan) to get bumpy. Pedro, being the speedster he is, took us at max speed over the bumps. We had a few “exciting” moments in the boat over the bumps. We thought McNaney and Tracey were going to fall off. Luckily we made it back safe and sound. After the boat we had free time in the city until 6:00.

One thing Joey and I noticed in this community is that Sundays are a time for rest and worship. Church attendance is high and the locals cook their best meals. Some of the locals best meals are the gizzards of the chicken because they can't afford the actual meat. Something we learned is to not take everything at 1,000 miles an hour (like Pedro the boat driver) and to slow down and rest and think about your day. Just like the People of San Lucas.

By: Joey Hughes and Jakob Michel

Day 6: March 13
Today was a work day- first we woke up around 7:00 and had breakfast (beans and oatmeal) around 8. The two STA groups split off to two different work sites; one with Jaime that involved building a two room house for two women, and the other to Rene's house which involved building Rene's own home. We went to Jaime's to work -- most of the time there we spent mixing concrete and gathering the ingredients for it, as well as nailing down boards to complete the walls that we started building on Friday. By the time we left, one room's floor was completely covered in concrete.

At noon, we departed down to the San Lucas Toliman church for lunch (beef stew with noodles) then we had a bit of free time in which many of us napped quietly. At 2, we resumed working once again, this time on the road directly outside of the hotel we are staying at. The dirt road runs alongside a school and the church, and has a large trench at the intersection before the church, and is currently undrivable. We started off by hauling wheelbarrows full of sand over the trench (on a bridge made up of two planks of wood) and dumping it next to the piles of concrete mix lying on the road. This took about an hour -- afterwards, we were tasked with separating rocks from a pile of rocks. For this job, we mostly just threw rocks onto the side of the street surrounding us. At 4, we finished up our work and headed back to the hotel for free time. Some of our boys played soccer in the hotel yard with some little local boys, and they all had a blast.

Around 6:30 we walked for about 15 minutes to Mario's house for dinner, something that we have been looking forward to since we arrived in San Lucas. Mario is a close friend of Mr. Rome; it has been a tradition for students to take a trip for dinner to Mario's. With help from STA students, Mario has made great improvements to his house which has protected him and his family from flooding, especially during the rainy season. We all prayed together before we ate, and Mario spread incense throughout the dining room to bless the first meal he shared with us in his newly improved home. The meal consisted of rice, chicken, cooked carrots, and potatoes, covered in a special sauce. We stayed for around an hour and a half, enjoying their company and their food. At the end, we thanked them for their hospitality and took a group photo. After this we walked back to the hotel to absorb the day and settle in for the night. 

By: Charles Sosa and Marko Jurkovich

2016 Trips

Grand Cayman Dive Trip

June 11-18, 2016
Photos are in a popup gallery to the right

Day 1
3:00AM Central Standard Time, we arrive. The Minneapolis International Airport was understaffed and largely deserted. After many minutes of waiting among many exhausted faces, we moved toward check in with cash and bags in hand; however, to the dismay of some, cash was not accepted until 4:00AM. The time was 3:49.
     For most, boarding went very smoothly. For Crandall, the boarding was unexplainably rough. Once in the air, sleep was a priority for all but Watts who was surprisingly energized. Soon, we were in Atlanta Georgia.
     During our brief layover in Atlanta, a few of us discovered that Concourse E was the home of the best food selection, while others survived on the meager options in Concourse F and Mr. Kinzley braved the line at Starbucks for the love of coffee.
     The flight from Atlanta to our final destination went well for all but Johnny, and as soon as we stepped out into the blindingly light and hot, humid air we knew we had arrived. With welcoming music coming from the airport entrance, we braved the customs line and finally made it to Cobalt Coast.
     After lunch, we ventured into the sea. We saw a turtle, an octopus, numerous fish, crabs, and many other sights. The trip is off to a great start.
~ W. Burns

Day 2
Today we started off by waking up at 7:45 for a delicious buffet breakfast and began to prepare for a long day of diving. Nine others and I were prepping for our first two open water certification dives and we were very excited. After much paperwork and a bit of waiting we finally got into the water and began working on our skills. While in the water we saw lots of different wildlife, from octopus to sea turtles to giant lobsters and were constantly amazed by what we saw. However, our second dive was even better than the first as we all were more comfortable in the water. After being in the water all day, we ended the night with a relaxing dinner and a bit of free time.
~ J. Crandall

Day 3
Today we woke up earlier than yesterday to do two morning dives. Some of us awoke even earlier to go on a run. We then enjoyed another terrific breakfast buffet before we got into the van and went off to Lighthouse Point to dive.
     On the first dive, we saw a 20 foot tall statue of King Neptune overrun with barnacles and coral. Dive Instructor Steve killed an invasive lionfish in front of us uncertified divers. After the second dive we were overjoyed to find out that the newbie divers were now certified!
     After our two morning dives we headed back to the hotel for lunch and a short nap to rest up for our third dive in the afternoon. On the third dive at Cobalt Coast students found crabs, eels, lionfish, and many more creatures. In the freetime after our dives everyone spent time sunbathing, swimming, and hanging out on the beach.
     At dinner students sang along with to Taylor Swift and Shakira. After sunset the students headed to rooms for a early start come the next morning.
~ J. Gerend

Day 4
Today we woke up at 6:45 to get a good breakfast before a long day of diving. We all shuffled downstairs to dig into the breakfast buffet and load up our plates with a hearty combination of eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and enough sausage to keep a sausage factory in business for a year.
     After breakfast we then gathered up our gear, and lathered up in one of the most necessary items of the trip, sunscreen. Then we loaded up our gear into the truck, and got in the van to go down to where we would be departing to dive from. We loaded up onto the boat and headed off to two incredible dive locations known as Bonnie’s Arch and Round Rock.
     Fish and other creatures we saw included squids, sea turtles, and lobsters. We then returned to our resort and relaxed for awhile before returning to the water for an afternoon dive. Others tanned with readily applied sunscreen, but this was not the case for Watts who was as red as a tomato. After this last few events we returned famished for another amazing dinner. We then proceeded to wind down after the long day.
~ Z. Keller and A. Watts

Day 5
Today we went shopping in town and then dove on the Ex USS Kittiwake, a decommissioned submarine rescue vessel. This was my favorite dive of the trip because it was very interesting to see all of the different chambers of the ship as well as a sea turtle on the way back to the boat! After the Kittiwake, we dove on Hepp's pipeline — a coral reef wall near the northern point of Grand Cayman. After the two boat dives, we came back to the resort, had some dinner, then went out on a night dive. On this dive, we saw a massive sea turtle sleeping with its head under the reef wall. We also saw multiple squids and octopuses roaming around the sea floor. All in all, this day was by far my favorite of the trip!
~ A. Moeller

Day 6
Today is June 16 and we had three dives today. Our first dives were our farthest dives. They were at the North Wall.
     The first dive at the North Wall was our deepest, and at points we hit 80 feet. We saw lots of sea life on this first dive including a small octopus, a sea turtle, and a hogfish. We also saw lots of different types of coral and sea vegetation. Overall, it was a really good and fun dive.
     Our second dive, Lemon Reed, was also very fun. On this dive we stayed shallower, but saw just as much vegetation and fish. We saw many yellow snappers. We also saw a scorpion fish, a barracuda, and a lemon ray. Very good and fun dive overall.
     Our third dive was Sting Ray City. It was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had in my life. Sting Rays came up to us from all directions. With our dive masters throwing squid bait around, the Sting Rays came over and we got to get an up close experience with them, and pet them. It was amazing to have such an up close experience with these beautiful creatures. It was one of my favorite dives all trip.
~ R. Stuart

Day 7
It was another early morning for the boys as started at 6:45 once again. But today's breakfast had a different kind of feeling to it since we knew we were going to have our last dives in the Caymans. We headed out to our first dive location and threw on our wetsuits for the last time. We went down to a max depth of almost 100 ft and traveled along the north wall. The visibility wasn't too good, but most of us were able to catch a glimpse of a 7ft long reef shark.
     As we changed our BCD's one last time, there were mixed feelings among students. Some were sad it'd be the our last trip while others seemed more interested in going to the beach or napping. On the last dive, we saw a sleeping nurse shark and a couple of eels. After saying our final goodbyes to the divetech crew members, we had lunch and headed out to 7 mile beach. We tanned, swam, raced, and even invented a new volleyball game called "Nukem." We came back to the hotel, ate our last dinner and enjoyed a late night.
~ M. Wahl

Day 7
After hooking up our equipment, we gathered in the stern of the boat for the final pre-dive briefing. Excitement filled the air as our guide explained that 90% of the time a reef shark is seen at this dives site. This elusive creature was at the top of my list for fish to see on the trip. I quickly suited up and put on my BCD. With a quick drop and refreshing splash, I was in the water.
     My dive buddy, Stuart, and I descended below. When we reached the bottom, we signaled to each other that everything was working properly with a quick "ok" signal. Then, we began casually strolling over the coral reef. The scenery was similar to the other locations, but this time the water was much murkier. I had an eerie feeling that something was watching me from a distance...
     Eventually, we came to the edge of the wall where it drops down to hundreds of feet deep. I wondered what kind of creatures lurked below. While I was checking my dive computer to see how deep I was, my dive buddy, started to frantically poke me on the arm. I looked up and he was making the SCUBA signal for shark (The classic hand-on-forehead dorsal fin). All of a sudden I was filled with fear and excitement. Looking into the depths below, I spotted the creature. It was moving elegantly through the water and on its back it carried a small remora. But, just as soon as it appeared, the shark vanished into the deep blue.
     This was my favorite memory of the trip. I've only ever seen something like that on TV. Being able to witness it in person was an awesome experience. Always remember if you ever encounter a shark just think, "woah, you're pretty neat, but I respect your distance."
~ E. Vick

Guatemala Service Trip

March 17-26
Photos are in a popup gallery to the right

Day 1-travel day 
Our day started at 4 AM  in MSP airport where we gathered as a group. The group of ten boys and our two chaperones boarded our first flight to Atlanta.  After brief layover in Georgia we got on the three to half hour flight to Guatemala.  When we touchdown at the airport, we were struck by the level of poverty. Almost all of the houses were made of tin sheets. After going through customs we all got in the bus which was loaded to the maximum capacity of 12 people. We had one of the craziest driver's we have ever seen.  The group started getting headaches due to the ammense amount of pollution in Guatemala City. The traffic was terrible with many exotic drivers. After we got out of the City, we stopped at Pollo Compero to pick up lunch. This was our first experience speaking with the native Guatemalans trying to order our food. Then we continued in our 3 hour bus ride up twisting mountains. We passed multiple towns containing coffee, rubber, and sugar fields. As we enter into San Lucas it was slightly raining even though Senor Rome promised "it does the rain in the dry season". We pulled into our hotel and were amazed by the view of the mountains and lakes. We when to dinner in the chapel, and ate some really good chicken soup. 

Day 2 -  Getting to know the city
Our day started at promptly 7 o'clock with Senor Rome waking us up for breakfast. We walked as a groups to the Chapel to eat black beans and oatmeal. It was extremely good. We all got into the back of a pickup truck and travel to the local school. We received a tour and was surprised by how joyful the kids were while lacking the simple necessities. Our second stop on the tour was at the Women's Center. This building is helping give the women simple nessesities to be able produce cloth, sell, and provide for there family. Our final stop on the tour was the coffee production plant. This product is the main money producer for the city. We went to lunch back at the church and we ate fish and rice tacos. Once we finished eating we got our hands dirty and went to go build a house. Gepheart and Weir were cutting the rebar. Bravo and Vick were mixing the concrete. Rasher,  Reim, Hegedus, and Hoy completed very tedious work of tying rebar. Iverson was bending the rebar for us to tie. Meanwhile Logan Vannelli sat to the side to give moral support. Once we finished with our task, we went back to the City to play basketball with the local city kids. When we got to the city square, there was a festival going on for Holy Week. We challenged the kids on the basketball court to a game of B-ball. We got beat badly by them but it was still a great experience. We then came back to the Chapel to eat dinner. We had a contraption of a pasta soup and it was very good. We went back to the hotel after dinner because it was raining, even though it is the dry season. We played cards as a group to finish out the day. 
Thoughts about the trip
Reim and Rasher's thoughts:
- I was very amazed by how joyful the kids were in the school even though they are living with barely nothing. 
- It is amazing how hard the men in the coffee fields work just to be able to put a seal roof over their head and have there name on a title of land. 
- Despite not have the highest level of communication with the Guatamalan kids playing basketball we were still able able to have fun and participate in a good game.
- It is amazing how the whole city sets aside their differences and their financial needs to all come together and celebrate Holy Week.
Day 3
Nick's Account:
Early this morning we got up, and attended breakfast. From breakfast we split up to go work to two different work sites. I went to the "woodhouse".  Reim, Vick, Vannelli, Rascher, Mr. Tangwe and I worked tirelessly to lay concrete for a house. We mixed, lifted, and flattened the concrete to make the floor. We worked for about an hour and 15 minutes before another man asked the hardest workers (Willie, Erik, Jake and I) to assist him in transporting some lumber. After witnessing the truck before us make it halfway up the steep unpaved hill, and watching the lumber fall out, we were pretty nervous. Despite this fear, we were able to assist this man and transport the wood. We were just about 10-15 minutes late for lunch. After lunch we went to go swimming at the lake. Señor Rome once again gave us accurate approximations as we walked for about 30 minutes in what we were assured was a "15 minute walk". After that we played soccer, and ate dinner. Then we hungout with each other listening to music, joking around, and juggling some soccer balls. 
Jack's Account:
Today we were all awoken at the peak of 7:45 and went to eat breakfast at 8:00. After breakfast at around 9:00, we split our groups and went to different worksites. My group, which included Señor Rome, Bravo, Iverson, Hoy, and Hegedus, continued our work on the same house from the previous day. We continued to tie rebars for the majority of the work. About an hour and a half later, we took a break and three children showed us to a shop, where we bought them and ourselves nice cold bottles of Pepsi and Coke. After our break, we worked again for a little over an hour until 12:00 and headed back to eat lunch. After lunch, we headed to the lake where we relaxed and swam. When we were finished swimming, we ate dinner, and had our discussion circle, bringing up ideas that stuck with us through our days events.
Final Thoughts:
Small things to us can be large to others. When we bought the drinks for the kids, their faces lit up with excitement because buying a pop is not common for them. For us, we simply can open a refrigerator and grab one, but for them, it is not the same luxury. It shows that there are everyday things for us that we take for granted that is not something people here have. Another thought we discussed was the sense of community here in San Lucas. When the lumber fell out of the truck, the man driving asked if someone would watch it while they hauled what had not fallen out. Instantly several kids started volunteering and ran over to the lumber and watched it while the other lumber was being hauled. We think that this shows how strong the community really is here, from how they support one another when help is needed.
Day 4
Our day started at 6:30 am with Mr. Rome waking us up for mass at 7:30 am.  We walked to the church and we got to see, for many the first time, a mass in a different language.  At that mass, we all saw the emotion that the locals put into the mass.  After mass we had pancakes and eggs, that were good. We then went on the boat and traveled to three different cities. The first city was relatively close to San Lucas, but the others were at least 45 minutes away from each other. Vick was fluent in Spanish and was very successful in bartering in the stores. He was able to get a Q110 sweater to Q60! In the final destination, Santiago, we saw the site where Fr. Stanley Rother was assassinated inside what in now his memorial.  Later we went to dinner and had rice and chicken. Rascher highlighted the day with his burst of excitement. He was in deep conversation while an older local lady was going around shaking our hands. When she came up behind him to shake his hand, he screamed out in terror due to his preoccupation. After dinner we relaxed and played card games. We had a meaningful group conversation to end the day. "This is the greatest conversation I've ever been involved in."  -Mr. Rome.
"There are no beach scenes... There will be no rain... There will be no two dinners alike." -Mr. Rome
Day 5
This morning we split in two groups. One group headed to the block house to mix and pour concrete while the other went to a wood house to set up walls. Since this was our third time at the block house, we got to know the family whom we are building the house for better. Glendy and Habner are the two kids at the block house who were very friendly and willing to help, teaching and correcting our Spanish. We spent some more time with them taking a break drinking sodas with them at the local "tienda," or store. After our hard work, we piled back into the pickup and returned to the church for lunch. After lunch, our reunited group got back on the truck bound to the women's center for the "Tolìman experience". This constituted of different activities such as tortilla making, clothes washing, balancing items on our heads and carrying wood on our backs. We purchased quilts, blankets, bracelets and other hand stitched goods made by the local women before returning back to the church. We ate dinner and collectively explored San Lucas, joining games of basketball and soccer with the locals before returning to the hotel.
Day 6
Vick: After a bumpy journey up a mountain in the back of pick up truck, we arrived at the "wood house". We divided our labor into teams of woodcutters and of concrete mixers. However, we quickly became distracted as a pair of federal police officers began asking the local people questions. Hoy and I asked one of the Guatemalan men what was happening. He explained that a young girl with special needs had been missing for two days. The police, he said, were investigating the case. Roughly 30 minutes later, a crew donned in hard hats with a leashed German Shepherd leading the way passed by our construction site. Among them was Benidito, a man who we played soccer with one day earlier. The rescue group continued their search on the mountain and we continued building. Just as we finished our last batch of concrete this morning, a massive crowd began coming down the mountain. They found the little girl. Luckily, our truck arrived, and we gave the niña a ride to a medical facility. On our way down the mountain, the community gathered outside of their homes. They were immensely happy that the search was over. From this experience, we witnessed someone's life being saved. A testimony revealing life's preciousness. The true heroes in our world are those who guard God's gift, like Bendito.

Completed 2015 Trips



March 29-April 3, 2015

Georgetown University

Dinner in Chinatown

Guatemala Service Trip

Each year, for more than 25 years, a small group of STA students has gone to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. While there, students work in solidarity with San Lucas residences on projects that benefit the local community. Additionally, students are immersed in the rich culture of the area.

March 10
Today we woke up and played with the puppies living outside our hotel room. After eating breakfast and doing the dishes, we headed out to the stove projects. The ride was beautiful and we even saw the volcano called Fuego erupting smoke out of it. When we got there, we split up into two groups and mixed cement, sifted dirt and rocks, and sprayed water on stone to make it stick better.

After six hours of being at the project, including a lunch break, we were able to finish and install a stove. The work was repetitive and strenuous, but it was worth it because we were able to ventilate the house so smoke could escape during cooking. After a long day's work, everyone got ice cream and went together to play soccer.
~ H. Johnson and D. Welle

March 9
We started the day off with a hardy oatmeal breakfast and then were off a tour of the projects around San Lucas. First, we traveled via the back of a truck to the women's center. There we learned about the skills the women of San Lucas are learning. Also, we learned that the reason for the center was to help women socialize away from home.

Next, we traveled to the clinic. There we learned of all the volunteer work and donated equipment that is given to the people of San Lucas, in order for them to survive. It's amazing to see how generous people can be. Lastly, we drove to the coffee plant. There, we all learned more about the process of turning coffee beans into coffee. We also learned of success of the project. Being the only one that makes profit.

After lunch, we learned about the history of Guatemala. The most interesting portion being the police corruption and the civil war, which lasted 36 years. After the powerpoint, we returned to the women's center.

There we were bombarded with packs of children. To their dismay, we actually had to learn a thing or two from the locals in that time. This included; making tortillas, carrying 35 lbs of wood on your forehead, balancing a basket on your head, and washing clothes in a traditional manner. It was impressive to say the least, that this is the everyday life of the people of Guatemala. Then we had the opportunity to buy handmade goodies from the women.

To end the day, we had a delicious dinner, and played an intense game of fútbol with some of the other volunteers. Overall, the day was a genuine learning experience, first hand from the locals. Hope to see you all soon.
~ J. Colleran and W. Hubbell

March 8
Today we went to mass from 7:30 to 9:00. It was interesting to be able to understand parts of the mass despite it being in Spanish. After mass we ate a quick breakfast of pancakes and proceeded to board the boat that would take us to San Antonio and Panahacha, two other villages on the lake. About halfway across the lake our boat broke down, leaving us stranded in the middle of the lake. After about a half hour of waiting, we were rescued by another boat sent from Panahacha and we were able to continue our voyage without further issues. In San Antonio we went to the crowded market where we bartered for miscellaneous trinkets. We then boarded the boat and went to Panahacha. Here, we only had time for a quick lunch before we were back on the boat to return to San Lucas. The rest of the night we have off and we are looking forward to working for the remainder of our trip.
~  J. Weidner and M. Mikolajczak

March 7
Today we had a day off from work, but it was still full of activities.  We started off the day with breakfast, and had a 2 hour delay for a rest.  we then proceeded to climb up the nearby mountain, and took pictures from the top.  Our guide did this with jeans and a button down shirt on, while we had shorts and water and it took us 5 breaks to climb.  Then after we took our pictures, we climbed down and had lunch. We then went to a local soccer field, where we played pickup soccer with the native people.  We then went on a hike down to a rock, where we went clifff jumping.  We then had dinner, and after we are going to watch a movie.
~ A. Zwaschka

March 6

After our long day of travel on Thursday, 8 hours of sleep was much appreciated.  In the morning we were assigned to two different tasks involving manual labor. One group went to dig trenches for a water filtration system beyond the edge of town.  When they first arrived to the job site, the other Guatemalan men working were actually on break, so the boys were able to use their Spanish skills by telling stories.  The other group helped build a house for a Guatemalan family with two very cute kids.  There, they got down and dirty by sifting sand for concrete and removing rubble from the floor of the house. 

Needless to say a hearty lunch was appreciated.  Our job in the afternoon was much easier, learning about the coffee grown around the town and the grounding process.  We even were able to have a small sample of the coffee, and even the non-coffee drinkers mustered up the courage to try a cup.  Before dinner Mr. McCarthy bought a soccer ball and basketball so we were able to play with the kids.  We all learned how much better the little kids were than us at soccer but we still had a blast.  Today was the first day we actually were able to become involved in the Guatemalan society, and it is so much different than back home. 
~ C. Gitter and J. LeMay

March 5
We arrived at the airport at 3:30, but our flight scheduled for 5 took off at 5:40. Most of us did not notice, since we were all asleep right away. Fortunately the airline knew we would be late to our plane in Houston, so they delayed the flight to Guatemala to let us make the flight. After ariving and passing through customs we waited in baggage claim for thirty minutes looking for Henry Johnson's bag.  This gave John Wiedner just enough time to lose his passport in the bathroom.  Luckily both items were found.

During our crammed bus ride to San Lucas we got to see how different Guatemala really is from the U.S.  This gave us an opportunity to see the different lifestyle and culture of Guatemala.  We towered over everyone and they were even kinder than "Minnesota nice." In San Lucas Toliman, it was initially pretty scary how quickly and close together the cars drove on the tight roads. Half of the traffic on the roads was taken up by "Tuk-Tuks," three-wheeled taxis that each driver decks out with lights and stickers. It's a lot of fun here, and we're learning a lot about the people, their culture, and the language. Also the keyboards have ñ.
~ L. Adam and A. Schwietz

Band Trip to French Riviera

Within a week of last year’s tour, ideas were generated for the next tour opportunity. Grand Tours Company has extensive experience with organizing musical tours for groups like ours with these three points as guides to selecting opportunities.
1. Catholic-friendly
2. Strong music/band culture
3. Cultural, Educational, Historical focus


Performance Flier

At the Visitation Basilica

Choir Trip to Spain

STA students will have many opportunities to perform and appreciate music throughout the tour.  Just imagine, performing for a school in Madrid or singing at a Children’s Orphanage in Barcelona, riding the hanging gondola to the Monastery at Montserrat perched on the mountain, participating in high mass at one of the amazing Basilicas in Spain, or even celebrating impromptu singing at the many Tapas restaurants after having been served a great meal!

March 11
Men's Choir at Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria on Montserrat.



March 10
Today,  we began our morning quite early, allowing us to tour a Cathedral in Burgos. Here, we sang two songs, Gloria Deo and Cuncti Simmus. After finishing the tour of the cathedral, we walked on El Camino de Santiago, a famous Christian pilgrimage. After that, we drove a little over two hours to the Spanish town of Zaragoza arriving in early afternoon. Here, we sang at the two largest churches of the city. After singing, it was around 6 o'clock and we went shopping in town on main street. There was a plethora of Spanish shops and department stores. Then we had dinner and went to bed.
~ V. Wren




March 9
Choir in Toledo, Spain

March 6
Choir at the airport and ready to fly to Spain.