Penn State Shenango students spend spring break helping instead of partying

Local News

SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – Instead of hitting the beaches and party towns, students at Penn State Shenango spent their spring break helping others.

It’s not how most college students spend their spring breaks. Last month, a dozen students went to Belize to help the small village of San Pedro Columbia. They helped cook food and dig drains.

PHOTOS: Penn State Shenango students help in Belize

“Started out building a structure to shade the garden,” Shauna Phillips said. “While they were doing that, the rest of us, we dug drains to go around the garden because their rainy season is ridiculous. It will rain for days and days on end — will not stop. They need the drains to protect the crops.”

This is the fourth year the school has gone back to the village. After every trip, students give a presentation on what they learned.

“It’s a very small village in the southern part of Belize, very rural,” said Jammie Clark, director of student affairs. “Most of the people do not work in the village. They farm, they trade. The women are making their crafts, they are artisans and they sell those.”

In previous years, the students helped build a school. They stay with the same family and have formed relationships there.

“We stay with the Requena family. They’ve come to know us. They communicate with us once they leave,” Phillips said.

This year, the students helped build a community center, then an organic composting area. The villagers will use it to become more self-sufficient in growing vegetables.

Students said the memories will last a lifetime.

“It was very grounding and calming,” Josh Burkey said. “I found this zen center where I was very at peace and I was like, ‘How do I bring this back to America and implement this into my life?'”

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