By Tina Nalepa – Arts Editor
Students traveled on four different Shoulder-to-Shoulder service-learning trips over winter break, to Antigua, Ecuador, Mexico, and Vietnam. Each of the trips was designed to fit a specific learning theme and was preceded by a one credit course prior to the trip to help students prepare and learn about the various countries they would visit.
Students who participated on the Antigua trip worked closely with a local elementary school, TN Kirnon. The overall goal of the trip was to improve the school’s special-education service program. The first two days were spent observing the teacher and getting a feel for the classroom, including helping to assist teaching specific lessons. After observing and working with the teachers, Lasell professor Dr. Elizabeth Hartmann held a workshop for the teachers of the school and the students participating on the trip had the opportunity to teach the class for a full day.
“I decided to apply for this trip because I have wanted to go on a service learning trip for a while and I thought this one would be the perfect one to go on,” said senior Emma Nuneviller. “It is geared towards teaching, which is what I want to do.”
Professor Aaron Toffler and Professor Jose Guzman led the Ecuador trip. The trip was based around the environment of Ecuador. Students who participated on this trip traveled to the village of Angamarca where they volunteered at a local school, Escuela Quilalo. The students built a playground, painted the school, cleaned a reservoir, taught the students at the Escuela Quilalo English and about the environment, and how to take care of their land. Students on the trip also had the opportunity to climb a volcano, make cultural food, learn cultural games, mill grain into flower, play with and teach children, and donate books and shoes to the school.
Junior Lindsay Tavarozzi said, “I’m not sure if I could pick one favorite moment of the trip. If I had to choose it would probably be the look on the children and their families’ faces on the last day when they expressed how thankful they were for our help. That’s when it really hit me that the people of Angamarca need us and we really did make an impact.”
Participants of the Mexico trip traveled to Coatepec, Mexico where they began to develop a mentorship program. Students on the trip interviewed scholarship recipients and met with three Ninos de Veracruz (NdV) University students who will be graduating this year. Students helped to build a stronger Board of Trustees for NdV and developed ways of how to be involved with NdV. The students also took in the beauty of the town.
President of NdV and sophomore Margaret Strauzzi said, “The reason I wanted to go on the trip was because I went last year as President of Lasell’s chapter of NdV, and I wanted to not only continue my in-volvement with the organization, but be involved more with its development as well. This year, Stephanie Athey created an internship program that students of specific majors would be able to participate in. I was selected as one of the interns, and had specific responsibilities and task to accomplish while in Mexico.”
Lasell students also traveled to Ha-noi, Vietnam where they worked closely with the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a charity working with Vietnamese children in crisis. Blue Dragon’s goal is to rescue kids from danger, reunite them with their families when possible, and help sponsor the children to finish school.
Children from Blue Dragon are from the streets, extreme poverty, or are victims of human trafficking and slavery. The students started a long-term project to help Blue Dragon bring in donations by making an interactive map that helps bring awareness to what Blue Dragon is trying to accomplish. Children and adults can learn how Blue Dragon helps the children and offers links for those people reading to help by making a donation.
“My favorite part of the trip was meeting all the different people,” said junior Myranda Smith. “I got to make new friends from Lasell that I wouldn’t have normally met through my major courses. I loved meeting other tourists in Vietnam that came from all around the world, and the Blue Dragon workers and kids.”