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Ringgold senior right at home on mission trips

| Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Ringgold senior Jordan Curry trains high school students to use the “talking book” system she created during a 2011 mission trip to Ethiopia.
Ringgold senior Jordan Curry trains high school students to use the “talking book” system she created during a 2011 mission trip to Ethiopia.
Ringgold senior Jordan Curry trains the leaders of the synod to use the “talking book” system she created during a 2011 mission trip to Ethiopia.
Ringgold senior Jordan Curry trains the leaders of the synod to use the “talking book” system she created during a 2011 mission trip to Ethiopia.

Prior to the beginning of every soccer season, Ringgold's girls team spends four days at Jumonville camp and retreat center near Uniontown, engaging in team-building and team-bonding activities, senior Jordan Curry recalls, looking back at her four seasons with the program.

“We set standards for the season,” Curry said. “That's a time for us to get closer as teammates and meet the freshmen and sophomores. We participate in team-related activities, and they all are effective. It's a time for us to learn to believe in and trust each other.”

One such activity involves negotiating a high-ropes tightrope course where, “even though you are wearing a harness, the big fear is falling or crying in front of your teammates because you are afraid,” Curry added, “We learn that we have to trust each other.”

Standards and trust are mainstays in Curry's life, and she is not one to back down from a challenge.

For three weeks during her sophomore year, from the end of October into November, Curry ventured to Mizan Teferi, Ethiopia, with First Presbyterian Church in Monongahela as part of a mission trip to form a better relationship with First Presbyterian's sister church. There, Curry developed a curriculum on how to teach students to write and speak English.

Subsequent mission trips with Library Baptist Crossroads Ministries in Finleyville found Curry traveling to Quito, Ecuador, the summer prior to her junior year and again during the last week of June this past summer.

“I could feel God pulling on my heart, telling me to go on these mission trips,” said Curry, explaining her voluntary participation with the church programs. “Going to Ethiopia and Ecuador makes me feel like I have a purpose in life. I have always had a passion for helping others and gaining a different perspective on how other people live and view God. This helps me develop a perspective on my life and how I view life. The reaction of the students toward us was very good.”

Accomplishing two tasks in Ethiopia at once, Curry used the opportunity to complete her Girl Scouts Gold Award, developing the curriculum and incorporating an audio book for the students.

Rusty Salminen, from the First Presbyterian Church, was Curry's mentor during the trip.

“We have a church partnership with Ethiopia,” noted Salminen, who coordinates that relationship. “Jordan was 15 at the time, which was somewhat young for a trip of that magnitude, but she was more than mature enough for any challenge. She is a thoughtful young lady.”

Salminen credited a children's book author for the audiobook concept and “Jordan ran with the idea,” he added. “She worked out the program and method of recording the book, and sold the idea to teachers at Ringgold who assisted her. She found the appropriate books, recorded them, and worked out a method of how and when the user — the students — knew when to turn the pages based on what she recorded. She did a very good job and it was exciting to see her at age 15 presenting the idea to teachers and administrators in Ethiopia. I could see their eyes light up at the prospect.”

In developing the English curriculum for the Ethiopian students, Curry recorded children's books on tape to enable students to follow along as they read the corresponding words in English.

“They could read a word and hear me pronounce it at the same time,” Curry explained, smiling as she recalled interacting with the students “That made it easier for them to understand by putting the sound together with the written word.”

During her trips to Ecuador, Curry taught vacation Bible school activities, visited orphanages and schools to teach the students English — in relating stories from the Bible to Quito's students, who ranged in age from 3 to 13, Curry spoke through a translator — and found the educational process reciprocal. Even though she has studied Spanish for three years, she admits to being less than fluent but found the students more than willing to offer assistance in helping her bridge language barriers.

Ringgold girls soccer coach Tom Cameron has seen the same positive traits in Curry, a four-year letter-winner and one of four team captains this season.

“Jordan was selected as one of our captains because of her leadership ability and her interaction with other players. She came in as a timid young girl and has become a mature young lady. She is not a screamer, but leads by example. She is a hard worker, consistent in what she does, and is respected by her teammates. I will hate to lose her,” Cameron added, noting that there were players ahead of her when she was a sophomore “but she worked her way into a starting position and has been there ever since. She has continued to work and takes nothing for granted. Jordan is a standout player and she keeps us competitive. She makes the routine plays, which is a must for any goalkeeper, and makes the big save to keep us in games. She has good hands and instincts and is technically sound.”

At Ringgold, Curry, a high honors students with a 3.8 grade average, is senior class treasurer, president of the Interact and The Future is Mine clubs, and a member of Peer Jury, Student Forum and Character Education programs. After graduation she plans to attend either Robert Morris University or Cabrini College, located in Radnor, north of Philadelphia.

“I hope to go into business, either in marketing or management,” she said, “and work for a nonprofit organization as an event planner. I like behind-the-scenes work and seeing people's reactions regarding how those events develop. But I also have a passion for doing mission work and that will continue.”

Les Harvath is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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