Oshkosh, Green Bay college students aid others
They spend an evening together sharing memories and photos from service trip
By Sr. Patrice Rog
OSHKOSH -- Memories came alive again for 30 of the 36 UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay students, who went on Alternative Spring Break service trips, when they met April 5 for supper and the sharing of photos and reflections.
UW-O Newman Center hosted the gathering for the students, who spent their March 14-19 spring break in Pearisburg, Va., Pontotoc, Miss., or Mt. Vernon, Ky.
Although the students traveled to different locations, they experienced some similar
For example, the 11 students who, along with 70 other college students from around the country, participated in the Christian Appalachian Project at Mt. Vernon, performed mainly interior and exterior repairs on homes.
Jeni Kimmet, a UW-O sophomore, recalled the excitement of one 80-year-old woman as indoor plumbing was installed in her home for the first time. Such experiences made the students
aware of how much they have, and how much they take for granted.
In Pontotoc, 10 students worked with the county's Habitat for Humanity and two other colleges. The students began construction on two houses and repairs on an abandoned house.
For Tim Mallien, freshmen, the highlight of the week was sharing a pot luck supper with
the owners of Habitat homes in the county, and to meet the woman whose family will soon live in the house he helped rehabilitate.
"Putting a face to the people who will benefit from our work was so neat!" Mallien said.
The students had a great sense of accomplishment in their work, as was obvious on the last day as they finished up by taking photos of the buildings with the students and work crews.
Neighbors showed their gratitude for the students' work by bringing homemade cookies and treating them to lunch at a nearby barbecue restaurant.
Seven UW-GB and six UW-O students, accompanied by Laurie Svatek, UW-GB campus minister, helped build a park shelter and playground in Pearisburg. They also visited a senior center
and day care in the town and cleaned an area along the river.
UW-O students have spent spring break in Pearisburg for more than a decade. The students said the residents welcomed them with great Southern hospitality and much food.
Students spent their days learning to operate machinery, pound nails with a flare, put shingles on a roof, and frame a window. They spent their nights in sleeping bags on the floor
or on a bunk bed in a camp dorm. In return, they saw poverty and discrimination, as well as the simplicity, joy and gratitude of the people in these areas.
Ask the students if they regret how the spent their week and they say, "No way!" and
that they would do it over! Many said they want to go back next spring. In the meantime, they said helping out in the community where they live is a good way to give back what they have.
Troy Olsen-Wais, UW-O senior, has been involved with Habitat for Humanity in Oshkosh, as a result of his trips to Mississippi. He sees his work as a sharing of his talents.
"I don't think there's anything I would rather have done," said Dave Landenberger, also a UW-O senior.
The service trips receive funding from the Green Bay Diocese's annual Bishop Appeal.
(Sr. Rog is the campus minister at the UW-Oshkosh Newman Center. She accompanied the 10 students who went to Pontotoc, Miss., and worked with them on the Habitat for Humanity project.)