Every trip needs a Superman on the Balance Beam

Finland: Super-volunteer

It was Wednesday night and one of our senior members had just fainted in the hallway outside the restaurant in Helsinki. Our Portland Public School group needed someone to accompany him to the hospital. Jason Trombley told everyone else to sit down, enjoy their dinner, while he and Dave Valenzuela would go with the patient to a local clinic to see the doctor. Every group needs a Jason to step up, when things go awry, because sometimes they do.  Jason stayed in WHAT’s APP contact with the group, letting us know every update on the patient. And super-volunteers take care of all matters, small and inconsequential, as well as large and life-endangering, with a smile.

Car, anyone? Just our size.

The patient was back to his normal, perky self a few days later; nothing that a good night’s  sleep and proper hydration couldn’t remedy. Traveling across the globe is stressful, particularly to frigid Finland in late winter. We had gone to our first Finnish saunas and the temperature changes are not for the faint of heart. (The patient may have been too dehydrated from the sauna to get the water he needed that night.) Meanwhile, trips like this one need a Jason. His assistance was invaluable: he organized the registration, helped set up the kick-off party, greeted the tour guides, and established the e-mail list. He helped with the travel fundraiser and coordinated the social media communications. He helped collect tips for the bus driver, and he bought a gift for our friends at Lincoln who created our glide path to Europe. Jason took it upon himself to be the one shepherding all of us: airline tickets, hotel rooms, seats on the bus, etc. He helped get us there, kept us cohesive, and facilitated the write-up for our final report. The EF Tour guides were extraordinary (thank you Aiden Barkley and Elizabeth Haus). And Jason Trombley was superlative. His organizational skills were appreciated by the rest of us every step of the way.

Hanisi Accetta with Jason Trombley

Dressed in cool clothes and the latest shoes, Jason has sartorial pizzazz. He sports stylish sunglasses, padded biking gloves and a Senator’s blue and red, Madison scarf. His bright red overcoat can easily be spotted in a crowd. Plus he has an infectious laugh that you can hear down the block, so you always know when Jason is near. He is mischievous and fun.


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I lamented to Jason a few weeks before our trip how challenging it was going to be to create a weeks worth of full-blown lesson plans for a substitute teacher. Jason laughed, “But Henry, just think about it. You will be in FINLAND!” And his enthusiasm and devil-may-care attitude were infectious. I got the lesson plans completed just fine and we were in fact visiting one of the more remote places on the planet on the first day of Spring, 2018. What’s not to love about that!

Jason Trombley was excited from the moment he got on the airplane

Jason, you are indeed our super-volunteer. You offer similar stewardship of the Lincoln High School Constitution, ‘We the People’ team, which has been a near-perennial winning delegation to Washington, DC, to compete in the Nationals.

Thank you for being part of our community. The trip to Finland would not have been the insightful and inclusive excursion without you.