Students Serve in New Orleans and NicaraguaFebruary 1, 2011

Two teams of Rockhurst University volunteers embodied Rockhurst's call to live as men and women for and with others by spending a week during winter break on service immersion trips.

One team of 11 students and two staff co-leaders worked through the Archdiocese of New Orleans to help refurbish a house damaged by the flooding after Hurricane Katrina. In a week's time they were able to mud and sand the interior walls, apply primer and two coats of paint, and begin to lay laminate flooring. On the exterior, they used a new command of power tools to cut and install siding and a ceiling in the carport. The group met with the owner, learned her story and enjoyed a home-cooked meal that she provided on the last day of work. During the evenings the group learned more about the city by touring a facility that serves the homeless, talking with Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteers (including a recent Rockhurst alumna), visiting with students from Loyola New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana, attending a jazz performance at Preservation Hall and taking in the sights and sounds of the French Quarter.

The other team traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, to work with Hand in Hand Ministries on two related projects – a camp with the Pathway to Change program, and expansion of a house for the family of one of the children in this program. They taught children ages 5 to 16 at a camp every weekday morning and worked several afternoons to expand the house, building walls with cement and cinderblocks from the ground up. On the first day of the program, the group visited three families in their homes and went to Mass at a local Church. At the camp, groups of Nicaraguan children rotated among classes, including sports, art, math and cooking. The 13 Rockhurst University students plus two faculty and staff co-leaders worked in classes that matched their talents, experience and interests. The group worked at the house site for three afternoons and participated in a house blessing on the last afternoon, when they stood inside the walls of the house which they had helped to construct with the family. The week also included a visit to an ironworks studio founded by a young American couple to help give Nicaraguans without work a trade, as well as cultural visits to the local market, two family-run pottery businesses, the beach, a volcano and bat cave.

See photos of both trips in the Rockhurst University photo gallery.

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