Students Give Up Holidays for International Service
By Karen Hunt
Bethany Lowe wanted to be more than a volunteer.
She wanted to learn and experience everything about the culture of the African village she visited over the winter break as part of the University’s Alternative Service Break.
Lowe is one of 27 students that gave up time spent with their family and friends and leave the comfort of home to build schools and houses in Sokode, Ghana, and Cobquercrua, Chile, over the holidays.
Volunteering her time was an easy decision for Lowe.
“I really want to understand the world,” says Lowe. “I do have to admit I have the travel bug.”
Lowe, originally from New Zealand, came to the University through an independent scholarship that is given to one female student in New Zealand each year. With a passion for traveling and a desire to learn about new cultures, it only made sense to Lowe to study International Studies, with an emphasis in African development.
When she heard about the opportunity to join other University students to work with a community in Ghana, she jumped at the chance.
“I would feel bad going home to somewhere I’ve already been, when I want new experiences,” says Lowe.
Specifically, Lowe was hoping to see a rite-of-passage ceremony and learn how the culture measures the quality of life.
Lowe is not the only one looking to understand a new culture. Nick Bonner, an Air Force ROTC cadet from Boise, first learned about Alternative Service Break trips from his roommate last year, who joined other team members in the Dominican Republic. Full of stories and a new outlook on life, Bonner’s roommate came back to the U.S. and ignited a desire in Bonner to volunteer his time over the holiday break.
“I wanted to go through the same experiences that he went through,” says Bonner.
Bonner’s volunteer group worked with a third party program that distributed the team and other teams from across the U.S. wherever they were needed.
“I’m looking forward to seeing something completely new and something I haven’t experienced before,” said Bonner, before leaving on break.
While a new culture was exciting, Bonner also experienced meeting new people on his team from the University of Idaho. Being able to meet new people on campus and then share a life-changing experience bonded them together, long after the trip ended. These people go on to live the legacy of the University wherever they go.
“You don’t realize how big the University is,” says Bonner. “Then you start to see how the University is plugged into international places and all the people it affects.”