By: Shilesky Montalvo, Staff writer
Lebanon Valley College took 11 students and a few faculty members on a service trip to Caguas, Puerto Rico in 2014.
These students volunteered in a shelter that houses women who are victims of physical abuse; they also visited an elementary school.
Spanish professor Dr. Ivette Guzman-Zavala is originally from Caguas, Puerto Rico. She felt like she did not contribute enough to the community she grew up in after moving to the United States.
“I felt like I needed to give back to my community,” Guzman-Zavala said. “Caguas is a place close to my heart, and there are a lot of needs in this community.”
This service trip in May 2017 is open to any student at LVC; the only prerequisite is Spanish 202 or higher.
“Students must have an initiative to help out the community,” Guzman-Zavala said. “When our students came back, they were touched by what they saw and how much they impacted the community. An experienced student who has previously traveled on service trips said the women she met were the strongest women she has ever met.”
There are many aspects one will notice after going on this service trip.
“Realizing one’s own privilege of resources is a key factor,” Guzman-Zavala said. “There are people just like them that might not be at the same scholarly level as them because they don’t have sufficient funds. One realizes how much one can achieve by knowing a second language.”
Guzman-Zavala says that if one works hard in life, and one doesn’t see the outcome right away, just wait. When one least expects it, one will be rewarded for it.
“Another student who went on this trip who was also part of the basketball team made a huge connection with the kids from Puerto Rico,” Dr. Guzman-Zavala said. “This student applied for several graduate schools, and I wrote her a recommendation letter because she worked really hard on this trip and deserved it. The director of admissions at the school she got accepted to, grew up close to Caguas, Puerto Rico.”
Students who are interested in making a difference in not only their community, but also in a different country, should consider taking advantage of these opportunities.