Grant Herbert is a worldwide traveler but he’s no ordinary tourist. In fact, many would say that his work as a young humanitarian has been extraordinary.
Grant, 16, traveled to China this summer with his classmates at Boston College High School for a Mandarin language studies program at Beijing Normal University before joining his father, Daniel Herbert, in Vietnam to participate in a service project at an orphanage.
“Every year Grant and I go to a different country and perform a community service project and we also do some touring as well,” said Herbert, who is a flight attendant for United Airlines.
Grant and his father have also spread their goodwill during past excursions to South Africa, Japan, Thailand, and Australia. For last year’s trip to South Africa, Grant collected close to 1,000 pairs of used eyeglasses and distributed them to grateful children in Langa Township, Cape Town, as part of the region’s “One Sight” program.
During his trip to China, Grant stayed in the Olympic Village that housed the athletes for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
“We visited the Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, the Terracotta Soldiers, and Tiananmen Square,” said Grant. “It was real educational experience.”
While in Vietnam, Grant assisted children at the Go Vap Orphanage located in Ho Chi Minh City. Many of the orphans had been afflicted by hydrocephalus, which is the swelling of the brain.
“These children have all kinds of physical and mental disorders,” said Daniel Herbert. “A lot of these afflictions are attributed to Agent Orange poisoning.”
“My first reaction was wanting to hang out with these kids and to help them,” said Grant. “Seeing the afflictions these kids endure, it was an eye-opening experience. It made me think of all the things I have that I never appreciated before.”
Grant, a strong athlete and a member of the New England champion BC High rowing team, assisted the nurses at the orphanage in transporting immobile children to the outdoor area.
Daniel Herbert said he and his son hope to continue the service projects abroad for years to come.
“I think the trips have brought us closer together,” said Herbert. “I look forward to them.”
“These trips have been the most rewarding experiences – there’s nothing like it,” said Grant. “You really have to work with these kids to understand the day-to-day physical challenges they face in their lives.”
An honor roll student who is beginning his senior year, Grant is considering Jesuit institutions Boston College, Holy Cross, Providence, Fairfield, and Gonzaga among his other choices for college.
“I’m going to write my college essay on my experiences in Vietnam,” said Grant.
Daniel Herbert said he and his wife Maki are proud of their son’s unwavering commitment to reaching out to others less fortunate, a charitableness and generous spirit that may have been ignited by their trip to Thailand.
“We were in Thailand two years ago and were out in the countryside and Grant had never seen poverty like that,” recalled Herbert. “Grant said to me, ‘Wow, these guys really have it rough,’ and I replied, ‘Maybe next time we make a trip, we can do something about it.’ “When we visited Africa and took a safari, we had fun, but we also wanted to give back to the local community and it was really rewarding. It ended up being the highlight of the trip. I think it’s the best education in the world to get outside your comfort zone and see the world.”
Grant Herbert has been seeing the world and making a difference in people’s lives.