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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M students help youths in Honduras

 
 

James Miller, a nuclear engineering graduate student, learned the value of a gallon-sized Ziploc bag when he returned to Taulabe, Honduras in March.
Spring break marked Miller’s fourth trip to the Central American country, including one in March 2005, when he and other college students distributed Ziploc bags filled with school supplies to Honduran children.
Honduras is one of the world’s poorest countries, according to the CIA World Factbook Web site.
Miller was surprised to find that one child still uses the plastic bag he was given a year earlier.
“We saw the same kids and they’d grown taller, and they’d grown stronger, and one of them still had the same Ziploc bag that he used to keep his stuff dry, because it rains a lot on that mountain,” Miller said. “He was so grateful to have it that the wanted to keep it until he couldn’t use it anymore.”
The first grade teacher at the school also expressed her gratitude, Miller said.
“We took them (the Ziploc bags) to a little school and I took a big Texas A&M flag with me,” Miller said. “The first grade teacher was so happy that we came to give those things to the school kids that she put the flag around her like a cape and started running around like some sort of super Aggie superhero. I will always remember that.”
Miller took his first trip to Honduras in 2004 with the Rivers of the World organization and Hampden-Sydney College.
“The first time you go, you don’t really know why you’re going; you just think it’ll be something good to do,” Miller said. “But after that, you get hooked because it’s a life-changing experience.”
In addition to delivering school supplies, Miller has helped build a clinic in Honduras. Construction in Honduras is very different from construction in the United States, he said.
“For example, when we were mixing for the concrete, they didn’t have a truck to come in and mix it and dump it, but we used the floor of what’s going to be the medical building to mix it all,” Miller said.
Because of the digging that took place, five or six shovels broke each week, Miller said. Instead of throwing them away, however, the Hondurans would fix them with nails and wire and would often make new handles out of tree branches, he said.
Hunter Rooker, a Hampden-Sydney College senior mathematics major, went to Honduras in January with Miller and Rivers of the World. Working in Honduras as a volunteer gave him a new perspective on international travel, he said.
“My first trip that I had abroad was to Brazil, and it was an internship, and probably the biggest difference was that that summer I was very, very much self-oriented,” Rooker said. “I had my own self interest in it, in hopes of maybe getting a job in the future.”
In December, Katrina Barnett, a sophomore international studies major, and 39 other Texas A&M students went to Siguatepeque, Honduras with LEADNOW Ministries, to help locals build an orphanage.
“We helped build an orphanage for Alfredo (the leader of a Honduran orphanage that works with LEADNOW), who has a vision of ministering to the people of Honduras and providing healthcare for orphans and widows,” Barnett said.
Barnett said the lessons she learned on the trip continue to impact her everyday life in the states.
“It makes you more appreciative of what you have and more aware of other people,” Barnett said. “I feel like I’ve complained less.”
Mike McAdams, executive director of LEADNOW Ministries, said he hopes college students learn to look beyond themselves by serving in other countries.
“I think it’s important for college students to understand that their life is not about their career solely. It’s about living a life of mission,” McAdams said.
Barnett said she believes serving internationally is something every person should experience.
“I think everybody needs to have some experience like this, just to open their eyes to the rest of the world,” Barnett said. “We kind of live in this little bubble in the United States.”

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