Family Ties

Senior Rachel Rudolph connects with her family abroad through serving those in need.

By Maggie Foley

Reflecting on her family’s culture senior Rachel Rudolph openly shares about life in a bilingual household. “Growing up in a family where my mom and grandma fluently speak spanish is different, especially how my mom has taught me to pronounce different English words growing up” Rudolph said. Photo By Maggie Foley

A service trip to another country can signify many different things for many different people. It can mean helping the less fortunate, making change, or even just the chance to experience a new culture. However, for Evanston Township High School rising senior Rachel Rudolph it means all those things and much more. Rudolph’s mother grew up in Puerto Rico. The culture and country holds a huge significance in both Rudolph’s heart and mind. She is constantly reminded of her roots. Both her mother and grandmother, who lives with her family in Illinois, speak fluent Spanish in and around their house. She also enjoys home cooked Puerto Rican meals almost everyday made by the both of them.

“Whether it’s the meals I eat every night or the conversations I hear my mom and grandma have in spanish, Puerto Rican culture plays a huge part in my life” Rudolph said.

It can be hard living a life detached from a large part of her mother’s family. Most of her cousins, aunts, and uncles feel more like strangers rather than family. However, her mother’s cousin Pepe regularly comes to visit in the United States.

“He [Pepe] is more like an uncle rather than just my mom’s cousin. We have a close relationship, he even taught me how to ride a bike” Rudolph said.

In the future, Rudolph hopes to build stronger relationships with the family she has that still live  in Puerto Rico.

Next week Rudolph travels to Puerto Rico for the fourth time, not just to visit family but for a service trip. In fact, immediately after the six hour drive home from HSJI she leaves the next morning at three a.m. for the airport. She is traveling with the organization Global Works where her team plans to help with rebuilding roofs, serving meals and much more after the devastating 2017 Hurricane Maria.

Besides service work for her mother’s home country Rudolph is actively involved with SOAR or Students Organized Against Racism and is on the board of equity workshops. Her board focuses on teaching other school programs about equity. Rudolph is also trying out for the varsity tennis team this upcoming school year and has a passion for the sport. Her favorite hobbies include reading or listening to podcasts, always jumping at the opportunity to learn something new. After high school Rudolph plans to study political science, social justice, or international relations.