Students Spend Winter Break Serving Others


Asst. Sports Editor

Two organizations at Sacred Heart, BuildOn and Habitat for Humanity, spent the last two weeks of the winter break in different parts of the world to help those in need.

16 people from BuildOn traveled abroad by plane on a “trek,” to the Southern Asian country of Nepal. According to buildOn, a trek is when people travel to build a school.

They were led by senior Devin Towne, who is the president of buildOn at Sacred Heart, and co-advisor Kirsten Nestro, who is a Religious and Catholic Studies professor at Sacred Heart. “The students raised $30,000 to pay for the construction of the school,” said Nestro. “As part of the methodology, we traveled to Nepal and began construction of the school together.”

The students would start their workdays with an hour of yoga and breakfast.

After that, they would go to the worksite and work on the construction of the school for four to five hours. Some of the work included mixing cement, digging a five-foot deep foundation and making pillars out of rebar in order to support the school’s walls.

“Many adults in Nepal are unable to read or write, but have dreams for their children to be educated,” said Nestro. “Gender and ethnic inequality is still evident in this community so when the school is complete, the adults will participate in adult literacy programs.”

As each workday concluded, the students were divided up into groups of two. They were paired up with a different family to spend the night with until the next morning. At the family’s house, the students would perform activities such as cooking and playing with the family’s children.

“From the moment we stepped off of the bus into the Ghaila village, we were immediately welcomed into their community with loving and open hearts,” said Towne.

Back in the U.S., the students of Habitat for Humanity traveled down south to Houston to provide relief efforts to those who were affected by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the area back in August.

The leaders of the trip were sophomore Cassie Simonides, and seniors Sean Whelan and Logan Cook.

Accompanying the students were psychology professor Ron Hamel, leadership and literacy professor Randall Glading, and the Director of Sacred Heart’s Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, Karreem Mebane.

“Going in, the toughest challenge was the new atmosphere of it all,” said Whelan. “Texas was an unfamiliar area for us, and for all the students (with the exception of myself and Logan) this was everyone’s first winter break trip.”

The group’s workdays were located within the towns of Beaumont and Port Arthur, TX, both of which are east of Houston.

On workdays, the students and professors were divided up into three groups of six and were assigned different homes to work on.

“We left the village inspired and changed, all of us eager to see photos of the completed school within the next couple of weeks,” said Towne.

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