Team New Orleans 2016
Jose (left) and teacher Tim Likosky (right) pose for a photo with Pastor Jack, an influential community leader in New Orleans.
Connection and cooperation are big concepts that during the day to day life in a high school, students don’t often get to contextualize. When these students are put in a group of their peers and taken on a journey to discover new things about the world and give back to it, they also learn new things about themselves and each other.
One thing that sets Quest apart, is its self-driven nature. Teachers choose the students, the trip, the activities. Students participate in hands on service, deal with conflicts that come up, and have to learn how to manage group dynamics in a completely new environment. Dearborn student Jose Marques set himself apart as a leader during their time in New Orleans by recognizing the power of communication and connection.
As is expected in a trip that is so steeped in the importance of human experience, the students themselves ran into interpersonal conflicts that they had to deal with. Jose noted the importance of discussion and collaboration to surmount these issues and become more cohesive as a team. “Dealing with the challenge taught me how to be a more effective leader, one that isn’t afraid of addressing the issue but also how to consider other people’s perspectives without letting that perspective cloud your judgment overall,” he said. The group facilitated discussions during which Jose had to “listen closely to what my fellow group members were saying and take that into account when I tried to suggest a possible solution to the group, a solution which they thought was great.” Getting a chance to use and see the importance of their voices and abilities is something that Quest students learn through their service trips.
Aside from being a leader among his peers, Jose was also inspired to become a leader on a larger scale. “The trip made me want to do more volunteer work in my community or even outside of my community. And it also made me think that perhaps when I’m in college I could do volunteer work outside of the US.”
This idea was only amplified by the interactions Jose had with community leaders in New Orleans. Jose reflected on the impact that the people they met have in the community despite their own personal or financial situations. “I learned that sacrifice is a huge part of those values and a life skill that you need,” he said. This was demonstrated to me by the people they met, like Pastor Jack, Celestina and George. “They continue to inspire me to have more energy and will to do anything that I can to help. I saw what passion, dedication, and what human will truly is.”
Jose looks forward to someday returning to New Orleans to reconnect with the leaders he met on his trip and continue getting to know and contributing to the community. At the same time, he is looking ahead to his opportunities for service beyond high school and how he will use his experiences to make a difference in the world. “I now believe that volunteer work not only helps an individual to grow but it also helps to make other people’s lives better and more enjoyable.”