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Hillsdale sophomore Katie Kish and two friends working at a farm in Cuba (photo: Katie Kish / Courtesy).
Hillsdale sophomore Katie Kish and two friends working at a farm in Cuba (photo: Katie Kish / Courtesy).

Other than vis­iting Canada, sophomore Katie Kish had never traveled outside the United States before signing up for a mission trip to Cuba in June, where she spent eight days vol­un­teering with a group of high school stu­dents.

Upon landing in Cuba, the group jumped right into their mis­sionary work.

“We flew into Havana and spent a day there,” Kish said. “We stayed in and did mission work in Matanzas, two hours east of Havana.”

While she was sharing her faith with the res­i­dents, Kish received, in return, a one-of-a-kind immersion expe­rience in Matanzas, a city alter­na­tively known as the “Athens of Cuba” for its many poets and the “Venice of Cuba” for its many bridges and rivers and unique archi­tecture. During the course of the trip she helped paint an orphanage, worked on a pineapple farm, and played soccer with kids in a narrow, deserted street.

Among her friends and teachers, Kish is known as a bright student and a gen­erous human being. Her softball teammate, sophomore Amanda Marra, said Kish is com­pas­sionate and enthu­si­astic about her faith.

“She is one of those people who is always looking for ways to help other people and to bring them closer to God,” Marra said.

Pro­fessor of History Bradley Birzer also said Kish’s per­son­ality is well-suited for mission work.

“Kish is simply amazing,” he said. “She pos­sesses the perfect mixture of kindness and per­son­ality and intel­li­gence and imag­i­nation.”

Another friend, sophomore Cameron Maxwell, said “Kish has always been a very selfless person who loves helping people any way she can.  It doesn’t matter if she’s needed in another country or across the street.”

Kish’s take­aways from the mission trip were almost all pos­itive. In three words, she said the trip was “rewarding, eye-opening, and hot.”   The warmth of the Cuban people was par­al­leled only by the warmth of a Cuban summer day.

Kish also said the Cuban gov­ernment and its treatment of political oppo­nents opened her eyes to how for­tunate she is living in a country with the freedom of worship.

Although she said there weren’t many churches in Cuba, she nonetheless painted a picture of a people in tran­sition who were eager to hear what Kish had to tell them about her faith and about her country.