News and Events
Pepperdine Students Spend Their Spring Break on Project Serve
Spring Break is traditionally a time to cut loose and take it easy, but for 200 Pepperdine students it is an opportunity to assist communities around the world in building homes, mentoring children, providing medical care, and fostering faith. From Saturday, Feb. 27, to Saturday, Mar. 6, 15 groups of students will travel to various corners of the world, including Fiji, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Panama, as well as a number of locations within the United States such as Chicago, Illinois, Waco, Texas, and the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona.
Senior Paul Volcheff will be leading a team of 15 students in the Nicaraguan refugee town of La Carpio, in Costa Rica. "We will be helping Costa Ricans too, but our primary goal is to help Nicaraguan refugees struggling with day to day projects," says the international business major.
The refugees of La Carpio are struggle with more than a 50% poverty rate, and and estimated 70,000 to 100,000 people are living within just one square mile. Volcheff mentions that as well as helping the local medical clinic, mentoring children, and installing water filtration units, his team will help in the construction of buildings for the residents using recycled wood, as Costa Rica is suffering from years of excessive deforestation. Approximately 75% of the country's forests have been destroyed. "As we tour the northern part of the country we'll learn hands on about deforestation and how it detrimentally affects wildlife," says Volcheff.
The Costa Rica group will also travel to the volcanic region of Fortuna, where they will support education programs in local orphanages. "This will include computer skills to unlock the benefits of Word and the Internet, as the generation above them is as new to the Internet as they are. Knowing computer basics is a skill in Costa Rica that can land you a job in the future."
Junior Michael Francis Miguel will stay closer to home for the week, working with a faith-based organization in Chicago, Illinois, called "DOOR: Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection." The group will be based with the First Church of the Brethren working on the social needs of an urban city, such as hunger and homelessness.
"The work we do over the course of the week does make a difference," says Miguel, who served in a Honduras health clinic in his freshman year and last year traveled to the Dominican Republic to teach nutrition and exercise to elementary school students. "By showing compassion to people in need, we give them hope."
Many of those we serve experience the full range of poverty and injustice; they feel trapped in some cases, and unable to break out of the vicious cycle of social injustice," continues the history major, who adds that his previous two years working with Project Serve internationally spurred him to take on some home-grown challenges this year.
"We don't have to travel thousands of miles to find poverty and people who are suffering," he says, citing the homeless population living on our doorstep in Skid Row, Los Angeles. "It's daunting."
Despite his excitement to spend his week off helping the homeless of Chicago, Miguel jokes that the only thing giving him pre-trip jitters is the thought of leaving the warmth of Los Angeles for the bitter cold of the Midwest. "It's a minor detail," he concedes.
Meanwhile Volcheff eagerly anticipates the challenges that being the co-leader of his Costa Rica group will undoubtedly bring, including responsibility for the welfare of his team. "I have to consider everyone else on the team, so it will be a change of pace but I'm confident things will go well," he says.
Where the teams are going, and what they will be doing:
Fiji Education: Fiji Kindi Project introduces early childhood education to remote villages in the outer Fiji islands by initiating and developing Kindergarten classrooms.
Fiji Medical: Students will assist doctors and dentists in providing basic medical and dental assistance to those in need at the Tooma’s Medical Clinic.
Guatemala: Students will work with Dimensions Ministries to provide children activities, training in personal hygiene, and training on how to operate and maintain safe water systems.
Guatemala Medical: Working alongside Health Talents International, students will assist doctors in a remote village medical clinic to provide basic health services.
Costa Rica: Students will help with the local medical clinic, install water filtration units, and mentor the impoverished children during after-school tutoring programs. Students will also have the opportunity to hike through rainforests, visit active volcanoes, and learn about the fragile ecosystem.
Dominican Republic Education (2 teams – 28 students + Debby Benton and her friend Lisa Osborne): Two teams, including one headed by Pepperdine First Lady Debby Benton, will teach a variety of subjects in locals schools in partnership with Orphanage Outreach.
Dominican Republic Medical: Through Orphanage Outreach students will bring health education and medical services to men, women, and children in the Dominican Republic.
Panama: Students will work alongside Youth with a Mission (YWAM) to work with children, assist in schools, and minister to the people of Panama City.
Camden, NJ: Students will work with Urban Promise to help with after-school youth programs and work projects in one of the most impoverished areas of the U.S.
San Carlos Apache Reservation: Members of this team will participate in after-school tutoring and sports programs with kids at the Boys and Girls Club.
New York City: Working with Shiloh Ministries, the team will tutor children in three public schools in the south Bronx.
Seattle, WA: Students will be serving meals to the homeless at the Union Gospel Mission.
Chicago, IL: Working with the DOOR Network, students will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of service experiences that will help them to learn about the social needs of an urban city.
Waco, TX: Students will work with low-income families in conjunction with the Church Under the Bridge and Mission Waco.
Las Vegas, NV: Students will spend the first half of their trip serving the poor at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission and Three Square Food Bank, while the latter half of their trip will be spent cheering on the Waves Men’s and Women’s Basketball Team at the West Coast Conference Tournament.
Tampa, FL: The men’s and women’s track teams will serve at Hope Children’s Home.
For more information about Project Serve and volunteer activities that occur throughout the year, visit the Pepperdine Volunteer Center Web site.