The 2008 trip, which ran May 13-July 11, included a record 47 students or recent graduates, Assistant Professor of History Tanya Maus, and program founder Associate Professor of History Scott Rosenberg, his wife and their two children. The 52-person traveling party easily exceeded the numbers in 2006 (37), 2005 (30) and 2003 (23).
Kara Guss, class of 2009 from Bucyrus, Ohio, said her "passion for service was ignited through the various projects we completed and helped me gain a sense of where I want my life to go." She said she "loved the trip and was so happy that I was able to experience something so wonderful through Wittenberg."
The Wittenberg contingent worked at the Leratong Community Center, which serves 47 orphans on the Qhobosheang area of the Roma Valley, Ha Rantsala pre-school in the Village of Rantsala, and Little Angels Pre-School Day Care in the village of Thaba Bosiu, which serves 35 orphans between the ages of two and five.
It all added up to a tremendous experience that Lauren Bryant, class of 2009 from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, said she would recommend to anyone.
"I tried my best to not set any expectations for this trip seeing as I have never been to a developing country before," Bryant said. "Regardless, I was still blown away at the differences in technology and living situations within Lesotho. Though many of the major roads were paved, the overwhelming majority of the population does not own a car; therefore, many walk or take a taxi to work and school each day.
"I did, however, expect to see and spend time with children and that is exactly what we did. Each day there were children from the village, orphanages and preschools where we worked constantly smiling and looking to play. Huge smiles, loud giggles, and open arms came running toward us each day, and it touched me in a way I will never forget."
The average income in Lesotho averages out to approximately $450 per year, making Lesotho among the 40 poorest nations in the world. Like many other African nations, Lesotho’s population has been adversely affected by AIDS. It has become a place where Wittenberg students bond and learn so much about themselves and the world around them.
"A high of the trip was definitely getting to know the children around the village and developing friendships with them," Guss said. "In addition, the care and love the people of the village showed for us made me feel special and appreciated.
"I also loved getting to know the students from Wittenberg on a deeper level," Guss continued. "Being outside of Springfield pushed us all out of our comfort zones, and we really built some deep friendships in just a month. A low of the trip was learning about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and the inability to stop it from growing in Lesotho."
Bryant was struck by many of the same things.
"This trip was meant to tackle tough issues as we served the people of Lesotho, and that is what we did," she said. "We wrestled with racism, poverty, AIDS and corruption; however, without a better understanding of the reality of these issues, we cannot understand the lives of the Basotho.
"A day that still sticks out in my mind was our last day at Ha Rantsala preschool in Morija. After three days of putting in playground equipment and painting, the mothers of the children cooked us lunch and danced in celebration. Once we had finished working for the day, all the children gathered to dance and sing for us as well, and while we walked to the buses to head home, the crowd of children and family members accompanied us with more song and dance."
"Their appreciation was so touching, and I am confident that the people of the village will get so much use out of our hard work. Though some days felt like our work was nothing compared to what needed to be done, it was experiences like that one that I know will encourage each of us there to continue to serve in any way or capacity we can," Bryant concluded.
Written By: Ryan Maurer
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