Students Go Near and Far for Winter Recess Mission Projects

News Story: January 23, 2015

While many of us were enjoying family time during the late December and early January holidays, nearly five dozen Sacred Heart University students and a handful of advisers were busy with mission projects both at home and abroad during their winter break.

Coordinated by the campus-based Office of Volunteer Programs & Service Learning, four mission projects were in play. The earliest was to Bangladesh from December 27 to January 9. There were five students and three advisers in the group, including Matthew Kaye, director of the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, and his wife Tess. Sacred Heart Associate Professor Kwawaja Mamun from the economics department, who is also Bangladeshi, met up with the students in Dhaka. The group traveled to Dhaka and Patuakhali, partnering with the non-profit organization Distressed Children & Infants International.

A second group, consisting of 12 students and three advisers, including SHU professors Maria Lizano-DiMare and John McTighe, traveled to the Dominican Republic January 3 to 11, specifically to Santo Domingo, Barahona and Bahia de las Aguilas. They worked alongside COPA Community Partners. Another 20 students and three advisers, including Professor Randy Glading, trekked to New Orleans, La., and Lucedale, Miss., from January 4 to 11, collaborating with the George County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Sticking closer to home, 17 students and four advisers embedded themselves in Bridgeport, staying at the Urban Center of St. Charles Parish, from January 7 to 11.

Speaking about her experience in Bangladesh, Ashley Chory ’15 said, “The people there have a lot to offer with regard to morals and priorities. Education is their highest priority and every child that can afford to go to school goes. They are ambitious and strive to be engineers and doctors, regardless of gender. We stayed in an orphanage and the girls there, who came from nothing, were so proud of every step up they were able to make.”

Kyle Blake ’17, the student leader for SHU’s annual CURTIS Week service and immersion program, found the experience to be an eye-opener. “We were immersed in the culture of Bridgeport and saw different needs and things many people don’t see, such as schools for non-English speaking single mothers who need to learn the language to be successful and related pre-school programs at Caroline House where they cared for the moms’ children.”

Added Larry Carroll, assistant director in the division of Mission and Catholic Identity, “CURTIS Week was a very productive experience that reflects the passion and commitment that Bishop Walter Curtis had for Bridgeport.”

Kaye summed up the winter service mission program saying, “Sacred Heart University students are dedicated, motivated and engaged. These programs tap into the pioneer spirit and provide opportunities that are unique as well as helpful to communities.”