CAIRO, N.Y. (NEWS10) -High schoolers at the Cairo-Durham School District spent their spring break helping out in Costa Rica. Coming up to the end of their school year, they share just how meaningful the experience was for them.

“By the end of the trip none of us wanted to leave. It was really heartbreaking for all of us to go back home to the states because we just wanted to stay there. We didn’t know when we could see them again,” said Natalie McGuire, high school sophomore.

A graduation requirement at Cairo-Durham is to have a certain amount of volunteer hours. For these five students, they decided to take their hobby of helping out others outside of their local community. The students say the experience was educational, helping them as well. “I was really nervous about the language barrier. By the end of the week, I was communicating with everybody, my host family, people at the shelter,” explained Gianna Helmedach, high school senior.

From September to March, the students raised money and even chipped in themselves to afford a trip to Costa Rica. “We had to fundraise through a pancake breakfast, rotary eats, and personal investments,” stated Jessica Baeckmann, high school sophomore.

During their trip, the students worked on a women’s shelter and animal shelter. For these projects, a lot of physical labor was needed. The students say around ten women will be helped thanks to the shelter. “We had to make a sidewalk, which was a lot of concrete work, and we had to take a lot of dirt from this wall and make the ground even,” described Lauren Zecca, high school sophomore.

Most of the students plan to have a job in the medical field, and their trip to Costa Rica was just the first of many. “Going on this trip really influenced my ideas about future travel. Not only do I want to go other places, but I also want to help out in other places,” said Zoë Vogel, high school freshman.