The Wittenberg group, along with an alumnus, a faculty member and students from Clark University, spent a week building houses in the small rural community of Guanacastillo, Nicaragua. During the trip students not only built living quarters for families in need but they also gained a new perspective on life.
Students created relationships with each other, with the local masons who directed and oversaw the construction, and also with the family members for whom the houses were built. This was clear when Claudia, a Nicaraguan woman who was receiving a house, invited the group back, not as volunteers, but as guests and friends.
"This trip made me realize that the world is bigger than the United States, and you can find happiness out of nothing," said Carly Dahs, class of 2007 from Sandusky, Ohio, who made her fourth visit to the country as a student leader (see related story below). "It has helped me learn that money doesn't buy happiness – friendship and laughter do."
Wittenberg Student Discovers Passion In Service To Others
Wittenberg University requires students to perform community service and also encourages them to study abroad to experience different cultures. Carly Dahs, class of 2007 from Sandusky, Ohio, took both to heart – in the process discovering pleasure, friendships and a path to her future.
In recognition of her initiative and accomplishments, Dahs, one of more than 450 Wittenberg students who will receive diplomas during the university's 162nd Commencement exercises on May 12, received a Global Awareness Award at the university's annual Honors Convocation on April 13. Read More
McIntyre said this was a mind-opening experience since many of the students had never spent time in the third world.
"That is, in one sense, the material experience of poverty," she said.
Student-leader Andrea Leistikow, class of 2007 of London, Ohio, organized the group with Dahs. The group also included Mark Herbers, class of 2010 from Fairfield, Ohio; Suzanne Furhman, class of 2009 from Hamilton, Ohio; Christopher Hewitt, class of 2008 from Louisville, Ohio; Spencer Lowe, class of 2007 from Ridgefield, Conn.; and alumnus John Lohman, class of 2006 from St. Paul, Minn. Dahs' mother, Lee Ann Dahs, also accompanied the group.
The students, who gave a campus presentation and served Nicaraguan-style refreshments on April 11, built houses and relationships. They also learned to appreciate life more fully.
"This trip is an exchange," McIntyre said. "We gave our time, labor and money in service to the Nicaraguan people of Guanacastillo. But they gave us, or shared with us, the richness of their lives."
Written By: Cristina Recalde '08
Send a Message
• Book-Delivering Prof Named Ohio Professor of the Year
• Senior Class Selects Livestrong President & CEO Doug Ulman As 2011 Commencement Speaker
•Communication Program Honored Nationally With Top Award
• Wittenberg University Art Students Finalists For Scholarship Award