More than fun on this spring break

-Tori Hale

***The writer is enrolled in Comm 240 News Reporting.***

Fifteen students from Fort Hays State University spent their spring break traveling to Peru, doing service projects and touring the diverse country.

The group was gone for a total of 11 days and spent a good deal of time in Chimbote, Peru, a large but impoverished city. Their main project was tearing down and building a new house for a small family in need. The house, which some of the students described as more like a shack, was small and deteriorated.

The students were split into three groups and worked in shifts, alternating between building the house, delivering beds to families in need, and volunteering at a local elementary school. The students helped demolish the original house, then spent the next several days building a new home for the family.

After the house was completed, a local priest, Padre Elmer, blessed the house, the family, and the FHSU students.

The group also spent time working in a soup kitchen and donating new school supplies to the school children.

Carly McCracken, Goodland freshman, said it was her first visit to Peru.

“The most humbling part of all the trip was tearing down the shack a family of four called a ‘home.’ When cockroaches, earwigs, and spiders skitter across the ground, you truly realize how blessed you are to live in America,” McCracken said. Because of the poverty level in the city of Chimbote, seeing such tattered living conditions is very common, McCracken said.

“All of the kids are so incredibly happy all the time. Coming from America, you’d think they can’t be happy with how little they have. Yet they are so joyful and appreciative,” said Carolyn Campbell, Denver senior.

For the majority of students, this was their first trip to Peru. However, Rosa-Maria Castaneda, assistant professor of modern languages, said this was her third time taking students to Peru.

Evelyn Toft, retired professor and former chair of the department of modern languages, also accompanied the group on their trip, which many students said was a huge asset since both women are fluent in Spanish.

In order to raise money to complete all these service acts, before the trip the Fort Hays students sold bracelets around campus. However, the group also received a number of donations, which greatly aided them in completing all their projects. Some of this money came from anonymous donors. One donation came from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, and other donations came from the President’s Office and the Office of Student Affairs.

Castaneda and the students said without the generosity of their donors, the trip would not have been possible.

All of the students interviewed agreed that if the opportunity comes again, they would love nothing more than to return to Peru and do more service work.

The students also had some down time to be tourists. They went to Lima, Peru, explored the Andes Mountains, and took some time to relax. However, it was the service projects that left quite an impact not only on the affected families, but on the students as well.

“I believe I got so much more out of the trip than what I ever gave to people. It was a life-changing experience,” said Stephanie Geven, Syracuse freshman.

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