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CCRI Administrative Assistant participates in mission trip to home country of Guatemala

PAZOctober 28, 2022 

Through an unlikely connection with a fellow churchgoer, Luis Paz returned to his home country earlier this month on a mission trip to provide resources for children in need.

Paz, a Class of 2018 Community College of Rhode Island alumnus who now works full time for the college as a Higher Education Administrative Asstistant III, spent a week in San Antonio Aguas Calientes in Sacatepéquez, Guatemala with members of the Awakening Church and leaders of the non-profit organization GoBe International on a dental mission trip to educate village youth – ranging from 5 to 14 years old – on the importance of proper dental care.

Upon arrival, the group volunteered at an after-school program launched by the local non-profit organization where they offered free dental procedures and taught various courses, including English and Music. Paz, who was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States with his mother when he was 5, focused less on the dental work and more on interacting one-on-one with the children, whether it was planning special events or working with a group that taught the children musical scales, allowing him to showcase his violin skills during worship sessions – a skill he learned in second grade.

The mission was an “enlightening” experience; the appreciation of the children who were so grateful for the little things we tend to take for granted gave Paz an opportunity to reflect on his own good fortune while paying it forward in ways he never imagined.

“Every day was so emotional,” said Paz, 24. “To me, it felt like time slowed down and we were able to appreciate the moment. It’s really cool how everything comes full circle. I was born in Guatemala and now I’m able to go back there and help.”

Paz earned his associate degree from CCRI in 2018 in Communications and transferred to Emerson College, where he graduated two years later with his bachelor’s degree in Visual and Media Arts Production. In early 2020, he transferred to Emerson Los Angeles – the college’s West Coast home – and worked part-time as a photographer and content creator for the college’s alumni website in addition to his role as a Creative Intern for Ramo Law PC in Beverly Hills.

Paz returned to CCRI in 2021 as a Technical Assistant, where he also assists with coordinating projects for the college’s Communication & Film/Media department along with his work as a freelance graphic designer. His dream is to remain in the creative field to best utilize his talents but also continue traveling to help others in need.

Outside of CCRI, Paz is heavily involved with his church, from volunteering to freelance creative work. He linked up with GoBe International through its founder, a local dentist who is also a parishioner. Since its launch in 2014, GoBe has worked alongside organizations in Guatemala to target specific villages for annual mission trips. When approached about participating in this year’s visit, Paz jumped at the opportunity to get involved. He plans to go again if given the chance.

“The mission was so helpful for so many children,” Paz said. “A lot of the kids don’t receive regular dental treatment because it’s very expensive. A lot of them have decaying teeth. What we try to do when we’re there is get them up to speed. Obviously, it was a bit scary for them because no one likes going to the dentist, but they were so grateful to have us there.

“It was an amazing, beautiful experience, all thanks to God.”

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