Heifer, Arkansas. Does the name ring any bells? Probably not. But to the 120 freshmen at the International School of the Americas, Heifer was an experience like no other.
At nine p.m. on the 1st of November, the ISA class of 2014 boarded a bus to remote Heifer Ranch in Perryville Arkansas. Heifer is no ordinary ranch, though. Heifer’s mission is to end world hunger and poverty through the gifts of animals. The freshmen of ISA were lucky enough to experience this first hand.
Preparing for an 11 hour bus ride to Arkansas, these students were filled with anxiety and excitement. “At first, I would have rather stayed home for a week”, says freshman Riki Skutt. Most students shared this sentiment. After many failed attempts at sleep and a few gas station stops, the large charter buses pulled up to a Cracker Barrel in Arkansas. About an hour and a half later, everyone was full and the buses continued on. Finally in Little Rock, the freshmen arrived at a large park desperately in need of cleaning. After about half an hour of peeling vines off of fences, the students moved on and left a much prettier park behind. The rest of the day was spent at museums and Heifer Headquarters, and the night was spent at a hotel. The next day, these anxious students arrived at Heifer.
After a totally unrealistic, funny, and slightly scary experience with “customs”, these 120 teenagers found out where they would be living for the remainder of the week. In the first Global Village, the options were Thailand, Tibet, the slums, refugees, Zambia, Guatemala, and Appalachia. In the second Global Village, the options were Tibet, Mozambique, and the Mississippi Delta. Most of these groups were divided into economic classes.
Wednesday night, the ISA students were presented with their first challenge: to cook their own dinner. Some burned their ingredients. Some couldn’t manage to start a fire. A few made something that was actually edible. By Thursday night, though, most had gotten the art of starting a fire and cooking down.
Although almost all of the ISA class of 2014 was either nervous or skeptical about this Heifer Ranch trip, come Friday pretty much everyone agreed that the amazing experience was well worth the stress beforehand.
According to Riki Skutt, “I’m really glad I ended up going.”