UW students help with hurricane relief
Alternative Vacation -- Amanda Blair, a University of Wyoming chemical engineering sophomore from Big Piney, takes a break from her work in the hurricane impact area to display some patriotism.
Students from Big Piney and Pinedale help with effort over spring break
by UW Media Relations and Aida Aguado
April 4, 2006
As peers journeyed home or jetted off to Las Vegas or Mexico for care-free fun, 50 University of Wyoming students chartered a bus and headed south to join the ongoing hurricane relief effort. The unusual "vacation" marked the beginning of a new UW Center for Volunteer Service program designed to encourage students to spend out-of-class time to help others.
Sublette County UW students who participated were Amanda Blair and Shawn Kautzsch from Big Piney and Jodi Roberts from Pinedale.
Students on the first alternative spring break spent five days camping in military-style tents, elbow-deep in debris working side-by-side with locals. They came back with a new understanding of the devastation and a first-hand example on how giving is often a lesson in receiving.
The students divided into four groups, with two team leaders apiece. Each squad adopted a family and focused solely on helping those individuals. CVS Program Adviser Robyn Paulekas accompanied the students -- many of whom were volunteering in these conditions for the first time.
According to the students, some of the best experiences of the trip weren't hauling debris and pounding hammers. The best experiences, they say, often involved listening to and speaking with the people.
Like many of their peers, this group of UW students returned to Laramie on March 18 to prepare for class on Monday. Unlike many of their peers, they were not richer (or poorer) from the Vegas slots or sporting spring tans from Mexican beaches. Instead they were covered in bug bites and fending off illness. Even so, the Gulf Coast group was enthusiastic about their spring break and said they have even more to show. The student volunteer leadership team is now making plans for alternative spring break 2007.
Photo courtesy University of Wyoming