Volunteer Abroad 2011

 Honduras-EGL Volunteer Abroad 2011

The 2011 program turned out quite a bit differently than the previous four years.  A group of 31 students double the participation of previous years, headed to Honduras in late August to build latrines for an under-served rural community.   Unfortunately, shortly after arrival a shooting in the village led to a difficult situation that tested the students in a completely different way than any had previously known.  The most important thing is that all of the students were OK and no one was in direct danger.  But due to the tense situation in the village, the group made a choice to end the project early and leave the country.

During the first week of school in 2011, a meeting was conducted with students and university advisers in Ann Arbor, where they discussed the experience and also talked about the future. Through this meeting, it was highlighted that a lot of hard work that went into planning the trip, including the extensive research into the project, the non-profit group that helped arrange it, and the previously peaceful village where no acts of violence had occurred in nearly 20 years.  This was no one’s fault, it was simply bad luck.

The following is a message form Jon Opdyke, Chairman of the EGL Alumni Advisory Board, and EGL graduate of 2000.

“I also learned how the students dealt with such a challenging situation and was proud to hear how the group banded together, established a leadership structure, and made calm, rational decisions.  In many ways, the group bonded even more closely through their crash-course in crisis management.”

“The students’ perspective were very enlightening.  While they could have been bitter at the village or the country, instead they empathized with the villagers’ feelings of embarrassment over the incident and unanimously decided to provide the remote support needed to help complete the latrine project. Several students even announced their intention to visit Honduras again at the next opportunity.”

“Ultimately, while the experience was different than envisioned, the end result was as good or better in terms of achieving the goals of building bonds among students, providing a leadership experience, and fostering international understanding.”