Sebastian Gualy, Class of 2017, is a biology major and business minor who plans to attend medical school next year. Knowing that next summer will likely bring new time commitments and responsibilities, he decided to seize an adventure of a lifetime this summer with Young Life, a ministry organization.  

“Young Life has played a big role in my life from high school,” says Gualy. “From going to camps and being involved in high school, to being a leader at Georgetown High School now, it is a ministry and organization that I believe in.”

Having seen Young Life’s dedication to worldwide volunteerism over the years, Gualy was inspired to participate in the organization’s two week long trip known as Young Life Expeditions: Climb for Change. From June 20 to July 4, he was part of a work crew for a Young Life camp in Arusha, Tanzania where Gualy was both a guest and a volunteer, tending to the camp and the kids staying there.

“From squeegeeing floors to busing tables and passing out food, we did whatever was needed so that leaders could spend time with their kids,” says Gualy. “My favorite day was the welcome day when buses came in from all over Tanzania, and the work crew and staff greeted them in song and dance,” says Gualy.

The trip came to an unforgettable close as the work crew climbed (summited) Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 19,341 feet tall. Gualy says it is the most difficult challenge he has ever faced.

“There were times on the summit day, when we woke up at 11 p.m. to hike for six hours before sunrise, where I didn’t think we—and by that I mean I—was going to make it!” says Gualy. “But seeing how much farther I could go with every step was amazing. I took things one step at a time—and each step was a new personal best.”

The Southwestern senior now cherishes the friendships he’s made and memories that live in his journal.

“I will never forget the views from sleeping above cloud line, seeing the sky painted red, and the milky way streaking across the night sky,” says Gualy. “Seeing Young Life affect the community in Arusha so positively was really encouraging.”

As he reflects on this trip, the biology major also looks forward to the future as he starts his senior year at Southwestern—an institution that he says has given him the ability take in new perspectives and cultures with a deeper appreciation and sensitivity.

“I’ve definitely taken some wisdom and lessons from the trip, and have started to incorporate them into my life.”