June 16 will mark another opportunity for service abroad with SOU’s Civic Engagement Program, this time returning to a small Guatemalan farming town.
“The trip provides an invaluable opportunity for students to become immersed in Guatemalan culture while providing vital support to local communities,” said Britney Depew, Student Activities Coordinator.
There will be thirteen students travelling with two staff advisors: Dr. Ken Mulliken, Director of the Honors College, and Janelle Wilson, Queer Resource Center Coordinator. Students will work on a small coffee farm, and learn both the challenges and rewards of the profession.
Students will also learn from local villagers the art of crafting artisan trinkets. The villagers sell these talismans at the local market in a nearby town, and rely on the resulting profit to purchase necessary farming equipment and other supplies, such as foodstuffs that cannot be produced locally. The villagers are also adept at making cosmetics that are without toxic chemicals and produced using all-natural local ingredients.
Besides simply helping the locals with such tasks, the other primary goal of the students is to meet and interact with people from another culture, and also represent American culture abroad. Students will be in close contact with local families and individuals, and will learn both cultural values and norms.
“Many students come back not just with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for their host village, but also a new found respect and understanding of their own town and country back home,” says Depew.
Students will learn how different life is outside the United States, but also how everyone is similar in many profound ways.
“When I met these wonderful people, and learned how they did things differently from us back in Ashland, I realized there was a beauty in the Guatemalan way of life that I could never fully understand, and also a beauty in the American way of life…but together we shared that common link of being human,” said Jordan Parker, former participant in the program.
The students will be in Guatemala from June 16 to July 1. For more information on alternative break programs put on by Civic Engagement or to see information from past trips, click here.