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WATCH: UC Student Organization Springs Into Service Over the Break from Classes

Student photos reveal the rewards of service, as Serve Beyond Cincinnati looks ahead to planning spring break.

Date: 1/13/2014 2:00:00 PM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Serve Beyond Cincinnati

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The global experience for University of Cincinnati students doesn’t just apply to their co-ops or their other academic pursuits. In fact, student members of one UC student organization are revealing how they opened up an entirely new world of personal growth by serving basic human needs in the U.S. and around the world.

Serve Beyond Cincinnati was founded by UC students in 2007 to develop a civic-minded generation by providing service opportunities for UC’s students. Students traveled to four different countries over winter break, as well as three cities in the Deep South, all to make life a little better for strangers in need.

Students say these experiences turn these strangers into friends, and open their eyes to the strength of the human spirit amid hardships they have never imagined. Here’s a roundup of what students experienced over their break last month:

Serve Beyond Cincinnati Service Abroad December Trips

Guatemala – Eight UC students spent a week in the area of San Andres, building stoves for eight families. The students also visited a local orphanage and visited San Pedro, one of three volcanoes in the area. “Guatemala will always hold a special place in my heart, because my little sister is from there,” says Evan Marton, a UC senior from Milford, Ohio. “All Serve Beyond Cincinnati trips are special, but there’s something about Guatemala that keeps bringing students back year after year,” says the communication major.

Haiti – Seven UC students went to Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, to volunteer with the nonprofit, U.S.-based  Fuller Center for Housing.  The group built a home for a family who lost their home in the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Students worked alongside with local residents to dig the foundation and build the frame and structure of the home, getting the project halfway to completion in five days. They also visited a local orphanage – many of the children living there had lost their parents in the earthquake disaster. “We truly saw the difference we were making during the time we were there, and it made for an incredible experience,” says Meghan Pope, a second-year information systems major from Covedale. “We got to meet the family that is now living in the home we built. They had been living with extended family nearby. Eight people were living in what was probably about a 90-square-foot space. I came home with a new sense of appreciation and gratitude for everything I have. We all did. We are so blessed,” says Pope. Photos from the trip to Haiti were provided by University Honors student and Marvin P. Kolodzik Business Scholar Erica Goubeaux, a fourth-year math and economics major from Russia, Ohio.

Nicaragua – Eight UC students traveled to a fishing village outside Leon. They destroyed the foundation of an old home and started rebuilding a new home. “The trip really inspired me,” says Abbey Schreiber, a second-year nursing student from Columbus, Ohio. “The family we were serving had practically nothing, yet they were probably some of the most grateful people I have ever met. The village was extremely poor – most people were living in shacks – yet they were all so welcoming and joyful. This trip opened my eyes to the poverty in this world, and it inspired me to want to keep helping others as much as I can,” says Schreiber.

Peru – Eleven UC students traveled to La Florida, a community in the province of Cañete, Peru. The students worked with the Fuller Center for Housing to complete three homes for families who were able to move in on Christmas Eve. “We mixed cement, laid down concrete and finished roof paneling,” says Elise Woulfe, who is completing her master’s degree in business administration. “This trip was eye-opening, inspiring and gave us all a deeper appreciation for everything we have in our lives. We were immersed in a culture that revolves around family, religion, and the hope and promise for the development of a brighter future. Our one week in Peru gave a lasting impression of how fortunate we are to be living in a part of the world where we should be thankful every day for what we have and are blessed with. This experience would not have been as memorable without every UC student that went and took out a week of their winter break to serve others. I wish I could relive every moment again, and I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to give back to those less fortunate.” Woulfe, who is from Chicago, competed for the UC women’s tennis team from 2009-13. As an undergraduate as well as graduate UC Athletics full scholarship recipient, she earned her BA in Spanish from UC in 2012, with minors in Latin American studies, business Spanish and marketing. She also earned a master’s degree in Spanish and literature from UC last April.

Domestic Trips

Americus, Ga. – Six UC students worked with the Fuller Center for Housing to build a shed for a local homeowner under assistance by the Fuller Center. Students framed walls, built the roof and put in the door and windows. “The homeowner was a paraplegic – he had been in a wheelchair for 13 years after he broke his back in an accident,” says Hannah Salzbrun, an education major from College Hill. “His only limitations came when something was out of his reach. The experience reminded me that people live in all kinds of communities around the country and around the world. It also reminded me to never underestimate people,” says Salzbrun. The students also put up siding on a new building at a local farm.

Spartanburg, S.C. – Ten UC students worked in partnership with the Fuller Center for Housing to make repairs to two homes during their week-long stay. Students also helped set up and decorate a Christmas tree for one of the homeowners confined to a motorized wheelchair. Students also assisted a homeowner whose husband passed away last year. “We helped tear up her kitchen floor and lay down new tiles and fix up her steps. Overall, we had a wonderful week, and we were able to positively change the lives of at least two individuals,” says Jamie Weisbarth, who’s majoring in communication sciences and disorders and psychology.

Shreveport, La. – Nine UC students worked in partnership with the Fuller Center for Housing to construct new homes.

Serve Beyond Cincinnati already is planning ahead for eight service-related trips over UC’s spring break in March, including overseas trips back to Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Peru.

The University of Cincinnati is home to more than 500 student organizations, with interests ranging from service, academic, athletic, ethnic/cultural, governance, honorary, political, professional and more.

UC Student Organizations

Serve Beyond Cincinnati website