Apr. 28, 2013
Nearly 30 Buena Vista University students participated in three AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-site Learning) trips during spring break, enabling them to volunteer their time and service to a variety of people and programs.
The AWOL trip to Port Au Prince, Haiti, allowed BVU students the opportunity to volunteer with impoverished children living in an orphanage that is supported by an Iowa-based organization, "LOVE Takes Root." While there, BVU students played games with the children and handed out toys and other items. The group also visited Jacmel, Haiti, where they worked alongside a Haitian work crew helping build a new fence for the site by digging over 130 post holes and pouring cement.
Shelby Ripperger, a senior exercise science – human performance major from Lee's Summit, Mo., says the AWOL trip impacted her personally and professionally. "Life in Haiti is very different than in the U.S. and this travel experience made me realize how thankful I should be for the life I was given," she says. "It also reconfirms that after I graduate I want to pursue a career where I can help people, even if it is just in the exercise field."
"I hope the students took away the understanding of another culture, but also the challenges that people have living in poverty," says Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, director of civic engagement at BVU and co-advisor of the trip. "Our students left with a greater appreciation for the basic things in life like access to clean water and friends and family. I hope they are able to apply what they learned on the trip in the classroom and their future careers."
Other students who participated in this year's "Children and Poverty" AWOL trip included Sharon Feld, a junior athletic training and exercise science – human performance double major from Bondurant; Jessica Kelly, a senior athletic training major from Boone; Corey Hannula, a junior athletic training and exercise science – human performance double major from Maplewood, Minn.; Jackie Johnson, a senior biology major from Litchfield, Minn.; Caitlin Hoffman, a junior communication studies major from Sioux City; John Killpack, a senior biology and environmental science double major from Logan; Tesia Posekany, a junior biology major from Woodburn; Kelsey Davidson, a sophomore music education and elementary education double major from Schaller; and Turissa Moreland, a senior secondary math education major from Kiron.