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Students serve in Guatemala

March 8, 2012
KOKOMO, Ind. – For many college students, spring break means traveling to the beach, lying out in the sun, and building sandcastles for an entire week. For a select group of students at Indiana University Kokomo, spring break means an opportunity to have an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Faculty and students pose while in Guatemala.Faculty and students pose while in Guatemala in 2011.

From March 9 to March 17, eight students will travel to Guatemala to learn about the Spanish culture, enjoy some sights, and participate in a service project.

"It's been a goal of mine to explore different Hispanic countries, so this is a great opportunity for me," IU Kokomo student Lisa Ortega said.

During the first few days in Guatemala, the group will tour a university, do an activity with the nursing students there, and hike up a volcano. They will then visit and spend an entire day at Escuelita Rayitos de Luz, a school for special needs students. This is the group's main service project.

The school in Guatemala hosts students aged five to 50, who all have different developmental levels. The school provides an appropriate education for each level. The IU Kokomo students will spend a day cooking and making arts and crafts with the Guatemalan students, and also will paint the school's kitchen.

"I'm really looking forward to volunteering and experiencing the culture," student Christal Overman said.

Throughout the rest of the trip, they will explore and visit the beach at Livingston, visit Mayan ruins in Copan, and tour the city of Antigua.

The group can look forward to a busy week in Guatemala, but they've also been busy planning and preparing for this trip. Each student has been responsible for a fundraiser. They've held bake sales, handmade craft sales, had an international dinner featuring food from all of Latin America, salsa dancing, a silent auction and a rummage sale, among others.

"This class is really supposed to teach the students about fundraising and helping the community," said Lynda Narwold, clinical professor for the School of Nursing. "We have to take almost all of our supplies because the people in Guatemala simply don't have the resources."

The group is collecting donations of art supplies to use with the kids in Guatemala, and to also leave the school with extra resources, Christine Taff, lecturer in Spanish, said. "We like to leave knowing that we gave something back."

When the group returns, they plan to have a Guatemala Night, showing what they experienced and learned on their trip.

"Going to Guatemala will show us an appreciation for how other people live," student Alisha Referda said. "You never truly know what it's like for others until you experience it."

Students traveling to Guatemala include Jarrett Adams, Alisha Referda, Brooklynn Payne, Amanda Taff and Narwold will accompany them.

Story by Mary Olk. Mary is a student writer for the Office of Media & Marketing

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 08/14/2014