Thursday, February 6, 2003

Trip to Honduras learning experience

Sycamore High grad helps lend a hand

By Rob Phillips
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Many students see winter break as a time for rest and relaxation.

But for Stephanie Robertson, a graduate of Sycamore High School and senior at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., it was a learning experience.

On Jan. 2, Robertson, 10 other students and a faculty member traveled to Honduras for a 10-day service trip, which turned out as educational for the students as it was helpful to the natives.

"It was just really amazing to see how little they really needed to get by," said Robertson, a health and exercise science major, "and to see them not wanting more and not wishing they were getting new cars or DVD players."

Such distinct differences in lifestyles provided a lot of perspective for the students, Robertson said.

"It helped us put our priorities in line, or at least re-examine them," she said.

Robertson and the other students were selected to attend the trip after an application process last year. The students worked in the Agalta Valley, one of the poorest, undeveloped regions of the country.

Each of the students was required to raise $1,300 before taking the trip. The money helped buy supplies needed to make additions to homes, many of which lacked electricity and running water.

"We poured cement floors in a few of the homes," she said.

Only a few students spoke fluent Spanish, but they found other ways to communicate with the Hondurans.

"They would be hugging us and want to be in pictures," Robertson said. "They were just really happy to have us there and very appreciative of what we were doing.".

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