A summer of faith: traveling through Eurasia


Kathryn Haynes

Kathryn Haynes (12) enjoys the view in Budapest.

While summer is often a time to sit back, relax and enjoy a much-needed break, some students chose a different route. Kathryn Haynes (12), Harper Lazarov (12) and Sarah Unowsky (12) attended religious trips during their summer break and were inspired by their travels.

Haynes traveled to Budapest, Hungary with her church, Second Presbyterian, to set up a camp that taught English at a Hungarian school.

Running two weeks long, Haynes used this as an opportunity to grow as a person alongside fifteen other high schoolers. She often sang and played guitar for her mission team and the Hungarian students, earning much applause from everyone. Being around such encouragement had an impact on her.

“When you surround yourself with people who encourage you and love you, it helps you remember who you are,” Haynes said.

Unowsky and Lazarov also traveled overseas this summer for religious trips. Though in different groups, they both went through programs offered by BBYO, an international Jewish youth leadership organization.

Unowsky’s group traveled through parts of central Europe, including Prague and Warsaw, before settling in Israel for three weeks. Lazarov’s group went to Israel and toured most of the country.

“I think it had a really big impact on me since I got to spend three weeks surrounded by other Jewish teens,” Lazarov said.

She is still in touch with many of the meaningful friendships she made.

Also calling it incredible, Unowsky remembers a heavier moment: visiting Majdanek concentration camp. She recalls how their tour ended at a dome filled with human ash.

“Emotions ran high, and the experience ultimately brought all of us closer together,” she said. Even though their mission trips are over, the spiritual and emotional journeys these students experienced continue to impact them into the school year.