Looking over the photos on her laptop, Kylie McCormick, ’17, quickly becomes nostalgic for the groups of smiling children she left back in the Philippines.

“I miss them so much,” McCormick says smiling. “It was great to have fun, to laugh with the kids as we played different sports or worked in class together.”

McCormick’s talking about her internship with the Tuloy Foundation, a Catholic orphanage and school. She first discovered the organization while visiting her family in the Philippines for the holidays. Her father’s job had brought the family to Manila, and McCormick knew quickly she wanted to come back there after touring the school and meeting its founder.

This summer she returned to Tuloy  — which means “welcome” in Tagalog, the primary language of Manila. Her work there was supported by the Chaplaincy Summer Internships program, a UR Summer Fellowship. McCormick saw the experience as a chance to bring together two of her abiding interests.

“I went to Tuloy knowing that I wanted to share my passion for dance as well as grow in my faith,” McCormick says. “It was really cool to be able to combine those things.”

While at Tuloy, McCormick taught jazz and contemporary dance classes to 50 students during her seven-week internship at the school. She also tutored five students in English who had recently come to Tuloy after their homes were destroyed in a typhoon.

Each morning McCormick and another intern also worked for two hours planting and maintaining Tuloy’s aquaponics system, which is a major source for food for the school.

“We weren’t just there as teachers, but also to work with the students, who had to do community service hours as part of their time at Tuloy,” McCormick says. “It was very meaningful to work with them in that way.”

Part of McCormick’s work also included assessment interviews with around 30 graduates to study Tuloy’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. After gathering all that data, McCormick did a statistical analysis of the results to help identify areas for improvement in programs.

The group then began to execute the recommendations by developing workshops on interviewing skills, professionalism in the workplace, and other courses on life skills that weren’t covered in the academic curriculum. Before leaving, they facilitated six one-day workshops on self-discovery for groups of 50 students.

“We did a lot of hands-on things so the students would be involved and be able to take more away from it,” McCormick says. “It was amazing to see how motivated they were. By the end of the day they were so excited and each had their own packet of different things they had filled out throughout the day. I was able to talk to a lot of students one-on-one and it was cool to see how focused on their future they were.”

McCormick also had a few insights about her own path and said the experience helped solidify a desire to look for opportunities back here at Richmond where she can tie in dance and service.