How MUSE Global Service Learning Trips Improve Education

Service Learning Trips

At MUSE Global School, our mission is simple: We inspire and prepare young people to live consciously with themselves, one another, and the planet. When our students graduate, we are sure that they have all of the skills necessary to be well-equipped citizens of the world, which is why the Five Pillars form the foundation of our school.

One of the ways we do that is through service learning trips as part of amazing classes that focus on helping our students learn by exploring their passions. One of those classes – The MUSE High School Human Rights program – approaches the study of social justice from three perspectives: Building a knowledge base of the history of human rights and contemporary local, national, and international developments, creating awareness of human rights issues and concerns in the world and in our school community, and understanding the value and purpose of advocacy through service opportunities and direct action. To this last point, students in our Human Rights classes are able to participate in two service learning trips per year.

This year, two of our students, Lav and Layla, traveled to Guatemala to work with our long-time partner Mending Kids, which provides free life-saving surgical care to sick children. Lav and Layla were able to help with patient screening, connect with patients and doctors, and observe numerous operations.

And through it all, Humanities Teacher and Human Right Coordinator Jeff Martin kept us up-to-date on their trip! He wrote about their volunteer activities, the cultural events they got to experience (including a celebratory Lent procession), and more.

Please see the correspondence below to get a sense of how our students can benefit from these opportunities.


 Dear MUSE Families and Community,

 All is well here in Guatemala City. I’m a bit behind on the daily updates so I will start with Days 1 and 2, Sunday and Monday. Sunday was our travel and clinical intake day at the hospital, and Monday was the first surgery day.

Arriving at 5:30am and heading right to the hospital for a full day of screening and documenting patients for the week was definitely challenging. We did catch some sleep on the plane but we were all a bit tired as we threw ourselves into the work at the Moore Center. Layla and Lav completed documentation for the 60 patients approved for surgeries this week. This involved working with translators to write down names, patient information, family information, addresses, diagnoses, etc. They also took formal photos of each patient for Mending Kids, working in coordination with the doctors and the social workers. We also got to watch a huge procession celebrating Lent on the street right by the hospital. The day ended around 4:30 and we checked into the hotel and went out to dinner for pizza and Italian food. It was a long day with a lot of new learning and adapting to the environment. Lav and Layla were quick to connect with the medical staff and other members of the team.

On Monday we were up and at breakfast at 6:15 am and at the hospital by 7:30 am. Once the operating room schedule was posted, we double-checked that our documentation was set, and then spent the day hanging out with patients, observing surgeries, and helping with the recovery nurses once surgeries were finished. There were 15 surgeries on Monday with three operating rooms functioning simultaneously. Lav and Layla each spent significant time in the operating rooms and with the patients before and after surgery. Layla and I also made a run to a Walmart and Party City store to get some snacks and supplies for the team and some coloring books, stickers, and bubbles for the kids. The day ended about 4:30 and we arrived back at the hotel around five to rest and explore the hotel. We had dinner with most of the medical team at “The Market Restaurant.” This was a great end to a long day with lots of laughter and connections. Lav and Layla both naturally connect with the others, take risks, and are open to any task I give them.

Days 1 and 2 tested us a bit. All is well!

More to come,



Kids at the Moore Center


Dear MUSE Families and Community,

 Day three was somehow even busier than the first two days, and we are settling into the routine. On Tuesday there were 25 surgeries scheduled. When we arrived in the morning we visited with the patients from the previous day before they were released as we welcomed the new patients and helped them get settled for the day. Lav and Layla were busy with patients in the courtyard, got some time in the ORs and recovery rooms, helped again with some documentation, and also painted the large bags we will be using later in the week to fill with food and cleaning supplies for the nutrition and health program run by the Moore Center to serve the community near the hospital. These two definitely know how to have fun and bring some playful energy to this trip. By the end of the day, they were a bit goofy and tired, wheeling around in a toy car, blowing bubbles, and putting some smiles on the faces of the patients and staff. They are doing an excellent job of working through challenges, communicating and taking risks, learning about Guatemalan culture and health, and winning over all of the doctors and nurses on the team.

While Lav and Layla were busy, I also had an opportunity to speak to a large group of students and professors visiting from The University of West Virginia who study economics, nonprofit organizations, and global health. I shared a lot about what we do at MUSE, the human rights program, my work with Mending Kids over the last 7 years, and the growth and change I have witnessed at the Moore Center.

We ended the day around 4 pm and headed back to the hotel for some rest. We went to a fancy upscale mall for dinner, walked around the area near the hotel, and got back around 9 pm. Hanging out and chatting about life over dinner with Lav and Layla was probably the highlight of the trip so far for me. They are both great people, open to both silliness and deep conversations; we are having a great time and keeping each other motivated. We have definitely been laughing a lot and working hard so far this week.

More to come,



Van Life


Dear MUSE Families and Community,

 Day 4 started with another clinical intake session where we added 15 more surgeries to Thursday and Friday. That will make a total of 75 surgeries for the five-day mission. Layla and Lav worked hard all morning to get the photos and papers in order for the patient files. During the afternoon, we spent some time with the patients waiting and recovering from surgeries and got some time in the ORs and recovery rooms. We are truly getting a reality dose of how the healthcare system works and the process families go through to receive care that we more easily have access to in the United States. We are also learning that language can be a significant barrier, but with a bit of translation, facial expressions, and patience, the barrier can be crossed.

We have started to plan for Thursday night’s team dinner with all of our crew and the Moore Center staff, and we are working with the social workers to plan for all families and patients to have a pizza, cupcake and clown celebration on Friday before we leave. This will be a big celebration of all of the people involved in the week and it’s usually pretty amazing to see how grateful and happy everyone is.

Day 4 ended with putting together some bags of food and cleaning supplies for the outreach/ nutrition program, and taking our team picture. The doctors decided to take the photo wearing our robes from the hotel. Since we were pretty beat and didn’t get back to the hotel until 6 pm, we ate at the hotel and had a quick meeting before bed. This is always the most challenging part of the trip; the halfway point is when we have to regroup and figure out how to stay energized for the last few days

Thursday will be a busy day with 16 surgeries scheduled and our team dinner at night. We are a bit tired yet maintaining our focus. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s party with the patients, and Saturday’s fun trip to Antigua.

All is well. Much Thanks,






To learn more about our Service Learning trips, click HERE. If you’re interested in learning more about MUSE Global, including how to apply for admission, click HERE.

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