Ocean Park Okie's Saver Shields can help Astoria mom visit daughter in Ecuador

<I>Tehra Peace - The Daily Astorian</I><BR>Hope Harris, left, and daughter Faith Harris are trying to collect enough Saver Shields to send Hope to visit Faith in Ecuador this fall.

Hope Harris has been encouraging her daughter, Faith, to travel since fourth grade. Something Hope has missed out on herself, she wanted her daughter to see the world. Now she finally will.

"I never thought she'd do it before me," Hope confessed.

Faith Harris, a 20-year-old junior in international studies at the University of Oregon, will leave this month to study abroad in Ecuador.

"I'm hoping this trip will be a real discovery," Faith said. She doesn't know what she wants to do after college, but she thinks studying abroad will provide her with some direction.

An Astoria native, Faith graduated from Astoria High School with honors in 2001. She never participated in any foreign exchange programs, though her mother encouraged her to. Later, she felt she had missed out.

"I would like to try to live my life with no regrets," Faith said. She went to Europe three weeks after graduating from high school, thinking she would not have the opportunity to see the world in college. "I just wanted to travel," she said.

But now she is traveling to Ecuador to fulfill not just the requirements for her degree but her own desires. Faith will take classes at the University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador. Some in the region speak English, but Faith, who is in her second year of Spanish, is not interested in using her native tongue. She wants to develop her Spanish skills and immerse herself in her new environment.

"It's more than just mastering a language. It's connecting with people from a different culture," she said.

Faith chose a study abroad program through the Oregon University system because it was the most integrated she could find. Along with taking classes away from the other 20-some students in the program, Faith will stay with a host family, a couple in their 50s who have two daughters, 21 and 23.

"Two women my age - it's gonna be awesome," Faith said. "I'm sure they'll be fun."

As for Hope, who works in Astoria as a massage therapist, she may finally get her own chance to travel.

Hope had the idea to collect Saver Shields stamps that frequent shoppers of the old Sentry Market used to collect before the store closed, from people in the community who are not using them. A full sheet of 100 Saver Shield stamps will earn 500 air miles. Hope will need 35,000 miles to visit Faith in Ecuador, and so far she has collected eight sheets worth 4,000 miles. Without the free miles, the cheapest tickets run around $1,000, Faith said.

Saver Shields can still be obtained at Okie's Sentry Market, 1820 Bay Ave. in Ocean Park. The Harris' hope people will send their unused Saver Shields to them instead of letting them go to waste.

"If they could be used, why not put them to a good cause?" Hope said.

Faith will leave Aug. 23 and get back Dec. 20, giving Hope a four-month window of opportunity to visit. Hope said she would like to collect enough air miles for a ticket by her birthday on Sept. 21.

To send Saver Shield stamps to the Harris', mail to Hope Harris, 649 Franklin Ave., Astoria, OR 97103.

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