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Social Work students host Guatemala Fiesta

A group of students from the University of Maine at Presque Isle who spent their February Break completing an international service learning project in South America will host a Guatemala Fiesta on Tuesday, April 14 from 6-8 p.m. in the Campus Center. The public is invited to attend this event.

The Fiesta will feature an evening of food, photos, fun and celebration. It will showcase the work done by: Kasey Knowles, Skowhegan, senior Behavioral Science student; Laura Long, Blaine, senior Social Work student; Jessica Plant, Perth Andover, NB, junior Social Work student; and Tia Shaw, Perth Andover, NB, senior Social Work student. The group was led by advisor and UMPI Social Work Professor Shirley Rush.

They traveled to Guatemala in mid-February and spent a week in and around the city of Quetzaltenango, serving as volunteers in community development projects throughout the region, including painting a kindergarten building in Xela, the indigenous term for the town of Quetzaltenango. They were among a group of 22 volunteers, who came from all over the U.S. and ranged in age from 7 to 70, who participated in the week of service in Xela.

The inspiration for the trip came after a Social Work trip to the United Nations and Fordham University in Spring 2008. Students worked for nearly a year to research and develop the Guatemala trip and create and execute a fundraising strategy. The cost of the trip, not including faculty advisor expenses, was estimated at just under $12,000 including the cost of participation in the volunteer program Cross Cultural Solutions, transportation, lodging, immunizations, passports and insurance. Students were asked to do equal amounts of individual fundraising, collective fundraising, and grant writing and scholarships to pay for the trip.

The group said the Guatemala Fiesta is a way to say “gracias” for the local support their received for their service learning project.

For more information about this event, contact Shirley Rush at 768-9427.