Building More Than a Resume: Students Build Hope Internationally

Friday, January 23 2009

Jan. 23, 2009 Written by Brandi Hayes MOSCOW, Idaho – The definition of a volunteer is pretty straightforward: a person who performs a service willingly and without pay. But the reasoning behind the action is as individual as the person, and the experience can be unforgettable. With a number of opportunities available to them, students from the University of Idaho are finding their own reasons to volunteer, and the effects are just as individual. Kelby Wilson, a senior in mechanical engineering, has volunteered three times for Alternative Service Break. Wilson thinks that every university student should make time for volunteering because it provides an experience that is larger than one individual helping another. This winter break, he traveled to Valea Screzii, Romania, and helped people. Much to his surprise, they returned the favor. “I helped them some, but they taught me so much about myself and life,” Wilson said. “I didn’t realize how stressed I had been these past few semesters until I finally slowed down and truly enjoyed life. I learned from the children on this trip that life is what I make of it.” The winter Alternative Service Break, supported by the Associated Students of the University of Idaho's (ASUI) Center for Volunteerism and Social Action, gave three different groups of students a chance to help people nationally and internationally. “Volunteering is an experience you never forget. The experience changes you forever,” said Steve Janowiak, director of the ASUI. This is the second year that the program has allowed students to travel internationally to help others, said Hugh Jones an Alternative Service Break intern. Three trips were planned for the 2008 winter break: Cai Cay, Peru; Romania; and Texas. Each trip had a unique set of goals. Last year, the student volunteer group that traveled to Peru helped construct a youth center in the small rural village, and designed and implemented youth activities and sports for the children of the village and surrounding areas. This year, 12 students continued to work with the people in the village and work to complete the youth center that was put in motion last year. In Romania, a group of 12 Idaho students built an addition and improved a standing building, turning it into an orphanage and women’s center. Students also had the opportunity to work with the children in the orphanage by teaching sports and playing games. In Texas, a group of 11 students helped victims of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike by rebuilding and cleaning up after the storms. Volunteers on all three trips left Dec. 27, and were gone for three weeks. More than 80 applications were received for this year’s winter Alternative Service Break, of which 35 students were selected through a rigorous application process. “It’s hard to choose. To take 80 great applications and narrow it down to 35 people is really difficult,” said Alisa Hart, Alternative Service Break intern. Those interested in the Alternative Service Break, which is heading back to the Gulf Coast this spring can pick up application in the Center for Volunteerism and Social Action office in the Idaho Commons, room 301. Applications are due Tuesday, Jan. 27. Alternative Service Break will take some 80 to 100 students to New Orleans, La., Sabine Pass, Texas, and several other locations throughout the Gulf Coast for eight days over spring break, starting March 14. Idaho students continue to receive recognition from more than just the people they help directly. The University of Idaho was named to the 2007 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is the highest federal recognition for commitment to service learning and civic engagement. Nationally, 528 schools made the list, the University of Idaho being the only one from Idaho. For more information about Alternative Service Break or the Center for Volunteerism and Social Action visit # # # About the University of Idaho Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit Media Contact: Brandi Hayes, University Communications, (208) 885-7251,

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit