FAYETTE, Iowa (April 16, 2013) – Eight students and three faculty members from Upper Iowa University will travel to Guatemala during May term, May 22-29, for a service learning chance of a lifetime with Partners In Development PID).
Upper Iowa University first partnered with PID in 2010 during a UIU-sponsored trip to Haiti to aid in earthquake relief efforts. This spring, UIU will add a trip to work with a PID location in San Bernardino, Guatemala, Dr. Katrina Farren-Eller, UIU assistant professor of English, along with Gina Kuker, associate professor of education, and Dr. Bill Jones, assistant professor of biology, will lead eight Upper Iowa University students on a service learning experience that they will not soon forget.
While in Guatemala, the Upper Iowa team will assist in building houses and present local families with water filtration systems to help villages reduce parasites in the water supply.
Farren-Eller and Kuker will also explore the possibilities of creating a partnership between PID-run schools in Guatemala and the student-teacher program at Upper Iowa University. "What a tremendous opportunity it would be if our education majors could spend a term in Guatemala student teaching," said Farren-Eller. "It would be a unique experience that would give UIU students more of a global perspective on issues."
PID efforts in Guatemala include child sponsorships, small business loans, housing opportunities and medical care. The PID child sponsorship program is the linchpin to the entire program – sponsorship allows a child to attend school, gives the family access to free health care, allows the parents to enroll in PID business classes to receive microloans, and puts the family on a waiting list for a new home. Upper Iowa University faculty and students already sponsor 25 needy children and their families.
To prepare for the experience, the Upper Iowa students have been studying about Guatemala, and have even Skyped with two college-age students who have traveled to the developing nation multiple times with their families.
Farren-Eller hopes the UIU students have a significant positive impact from their experiences in Guatemala. "I want them to take away from the trip how incredibly fortunate we are to have access to education like we do," she said. "I also hope they see that there's a lot we can do to improve the lives of others if we offer ourselves through community service."
In addition to the service learning trip to assist PID, Farren-Eller and former student Jessica Racine, will raise money for the organization by completing a 2,000-mile bike ride from Fayette to Bridgeport, Conn., where Racine is a teacher. UIU Enactus and Communications Club students are working with Racine's high school students to plan the ride, in hopes of fostering a long-term mentoring relationship between the University and high school students.
Upper Iowa University students traveling on the May term 2013 trip to Guatemala include Kazumasa Suzuki from Tokyo, Japan; Enora Lebreton from Trelivan, France; Manon Saudray from Rennes, France; Moe Nagai from Gunma, Japan; Matthew Campbell from Hawkeye, Iowa; Allison Hahn from Strawberry Point, Iowa; Katherine Brassard from Janesville, Wis.; and Emily Westcott from Oelwein, Iowa.
PID was founded in 1990 by James and Gale Hull of Ipswich, Mass., as an organization committed to the education and economic advancement of the developing world. It works in direct partnership with those living in extreme poverty – those living on less than $1.25 per person per day – through a national overseas staff in Haiti and Guatemala. PID provides material, financial and educational resources, which enables citizens of these countries to implement their own programs for development.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to some 6,200 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.