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.