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Central students G.I.V.E internationally

Hailey Nelson, Staff Reporter - January 23, 2013

The small Nicaraguan communities of Little Corn Island, Jiquillillo, and Chinandega now have new schools and storage facilities. They also have children with the ability to read, write and speak English—all thanks to the efforts of Central Washington University students.

Created in spring of 2012, Central’s Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE) club is in partnership with the Seattle GIVE organization.

“Seattle GIVE builds secondary schools out of recycled materials, which provide means for education. The majority of the schools created are built out of plastic soda bottles that are filled with sand,” said Andrew Mason, junior biology major and a member of GIVE who has helped with the efforts in Nicaragua.

The nonprofit organization is run by volunteers with a desire to help Third world countries.

“We focus on community development in Ellensburg, as well as recruiting volunteers to help in Nicaragua,” said Kevin Sprague, senior business major and Central GIVE club president.

Beginning with only six members last spring, the club has grown to 35 members and has formed other GIVE clubs at UCLA, UC Santa Barbra, University of Central Florida, Gonzaga, and Arizona State University.

The goal of Central’s GIVE club is to raise enough funds to send students to Nicaragua and Africa this summer. To raise funds, the club will be hosting bake sales, restaurant “takeovers,” speed dating, and “humans vs. zombies” fundraisers.

To help offset travel costs for the members, GIVE is sponsored by the Grove Apartments, and recieves donations from the Palace Café and Starbucks. The club is also working in partnership with Rotaract, a Central community service club on campus.

“We are not only trying to build international communities, but local communities as well,” said Christopher Nenniger, junior environemental geology major.

Every two weeks, from May through Aug. 30, GIVE members in the United States travel to the small communities of Little Corn Island, Jiquilillio, and Chinandega. During their stay, members help build schools, supply buildings, and teach students to read and write in English.

“In Little Corn Island… one little boy looked up at me and said, ‘I didn’t know I could read,” said Liz Keck, sophomore business major and vice president of CWU GIVE.

The communities in which GIVE travel to lack fresh running water, are built upon garbage dumpsites, have little or no electricity and residents wear little to no clothing.

“Volunteers were advised to not drink the water, but we would see the kids run over and drink the water,” Mason said.

Houses in the various communities have walls created out of scrap metal, roofs made of straw or tarps, and no flooring or foundation.

“A lady in her mid-40s had the life aspiration in this community to one day collect enough bricks to build a new house for her family to live in,” Sprague said.

During the first week of the excursion, the volunteers lived in the community of Jaquilillio, where they filled two-liter plastic soda bottles with sand, which were then used to create the walls of the secondary school and a septic system.

“In Jaquilillio, during the first week we built a septic system so they could have fresh water and a working toilet,” Keck said.

For the second week of the excursion, GIVE members traveled to Little Corn Island, where they taught the local children how to speak English while building a storeroom to be used to store and sell school supplies.

“The students on Little Corn Island were on student holiday break while we were down there, but once they found out the volunteers were there to teach them, they came flooding in to learn,” Sprague said.

During their two-week stay in Nicaragua, GIVE volunteers not only learned to how to build schools out of recycled materials, but also to appreciate the things first-world countries take for granted.

“The people in Jaquilillio were happy with just having the clothes on their back and clean fresh water,” Nenniger said. “They were twice as happy as I was with the stuff I have in the United States. I don’t think anyone that volunteered on the trips was happier than the people who lived in those communities.”

This year’s goal for the Central GIVE club is to return to Nicaragua and travel to Tanzania. GIVE looks for members who want to better the local and international communities. For those interested in joining or helping GIVE reach their goal, meetings are held every Wednesday in SURC 140 from 4 to 5 p.m.



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