Operation Smile helps another dolphin venture onto mission


Andrea Smolin

Two-year old Naydelyn opens colored pencils to color on the first day of screening.

Andrea Smolin departed on Nov. 6  for a nine-day journey to Oaxaca, Mexico to serve on a mission trip for Operation Smile. 

“I have dreamed of going on a medical mission for years. Three students have gone on medical missions and shared their amazing experiences with me. I am extremely excited about this life-changing experience,” said Smolin. 

After collecting items such as travel size shampoo, blankets, coloring books, and mini sports balls, she was able to bring goodies to the children in Mexico. 

“I can only bring 50 pounds of donations to Mexico, and I had 63 pounds. I’m extremely grateful for everything that has been donated, and I know the items will be put to good use by the children,” she said. 

Smolin was inspired by other students in the building to go on her own mission trip. 

“Mrs. Smolin has always been super supportive of our missions and ventures, and I’m so happy that she finally gets to experience it too,” said senior Shreya Raj.

After gathering bags of crayons, coloring books, stickers, and bubbles together, Smolin helped to provide each family with a gift bag. 

“The children were so excited [and] found spots to sit and spread out. The kids took such beautiful pride in their artwork and would go around showing everyone,” Smolin said. 

Although she enjoyed distributing supplies, she really enjoyed meeting the families and children who were directly impacted by Operation Smile.

“At times not speaking Spanish well added an extra challenge, but love is a universal language and smiles and hugs always worked,” Smolin said. 

Witnessing families reconnect gave off a feeling of satisfaction and appreciation, and deeply impacted Smolin.

“Seeing the parents bring their child to surgery and then seeing them have to step away while their children cried for them was very difficult, but watching them reunite is the type of thing that makes life worth living. There were so many hugs and happy tears on this medical mission, and I will be forever thankful for the opportunity to be on the journey with so many beautiful families,”  said Smolin.