Subject: Students learn lesson on other side of world

Salem (MA) News

Students learn lesson on other side of world

By Amanda McGregor, Chris Cassidy and Tom Dalton

Staff writers

SALEM ­ "Life-changing" may be overused, but in this case, it's certainly appropriate.

Salem State College students Jessica Herrick and April Rachel recently returned from the fledgling nation of East Timor, where they participated in an international conference as the only North American representatives ­ and the youngest attendees.

Accompanied by Salem State professor Greg Carroll, who is Australian, the young women discussed ways to strengthen the tiny, Southeast Asian nation, which is about half the size of Massachusetts and has 1.1 million people. Most live in poverty, and the average life expectancy is 42.

"When I first got there, from the plane to the hotel there were refugee camps alongside the road," said Herrick, a senior social work major. "It hit home, the idea that there are tons and tons of people outside the U.S. who don't live in the conditions we do."

East Timor has seen much bloodshed and destruction in its fight for independence from Indonesia and subsequent unrest. Until Kosovo became a country this year, it was the youngest nation in the world.

The International Youth Conference focused on nation building ­ health care, education, infrastructure and sanitation, to name a few issues ­ and hosted 300 youths from East Timor, and dozens from other nations, ages 18 to 29. Herrick said she made friends from Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries.

"The people from East Timor would say, 'This is the first time I've been able to stand up and give my opinion without being persecuted, tortured, discriminated against, or condemned,'" recalled Herrick, 21, of Byfield.

Carroll, a professor of peace studies and education, has traveled to East Timor many times. Rachel is a freshman from Everett studying education.

To look at the blog from their trip, visit 

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