Lori Lahn is a believer in the Bridges experience and her family is a Bridges family. She has been on 6 Bridges trips in total and brought at least one of her children with her on all but one of those trips. She took her very first Bridges trip to the Dominican Republic with her husband, Mike, and her three children: Max, 22, Megan, 19, and Jack, 16.
Lori explains that Bridges trips have been a fantastic experience for her and her family. She says, “I enjoy watching my kids work hard in the construction and interact with the local people and with each other. The volunteers all bond very quickly with each other on the trips and it’s amazing to see. For me, it’s so joyful for me to see my kids working hard and having fun at the same time. No one complains, they all work so hard and get really dirty, but they feel very good about what they are doing. They are not always on their phones, and everyone is very present in the moment. That’s so nice to see because, in our regular routines, you don’t usually see that.
Over her Bridges trips, Lori has had some memorable moments. On her most recent Bridges trip to La Guama, DR, she was happy to see that volunteers were still playing a game called “Shake and Pop” that her daughter Megan had taught them many years prior even though Megan was not on the trip herself. The volunteers on her trip during Holy Week showed the game to some community members and, according to Lori, “It was very fun to watch. The volunteers were trying to explain the rules of the game without being able to speak the same language. It’s a good lesson in learning to communicate with others.
Some volunteers have called the trip the best eight days of their lives or decided before they even leave the trip that they will be coming back the next year. It’s impressive because the construction is hard work but [so many] volunteers love the experience.”
The experience stays with Lori and her children when they return to the US. Lori says, “When we come back from the trips, it’s hard to see everything that we have, [even something as simple] like a hot shower. We ask ourselves, why do we have these things and the people in the village we just came from don’t? I think that the reflections that we do at the end of the Bridges trip allow [my] kids to reflect on the things they have learned and what they will take back to the US with them as they get back into their routine…At the very least, for my kids, [because of their experiences on Bridges trips], they have an underlying awareness of inequality. They [have learned] how to engage with other people and have thought about equality and being kind and helping others. I hope that the trips plant these seeds to continue as they become adults and think about what they want to do professionally and outside of their profession. I hope some of them will do this with their children at that stage in their life.”