Serving others during spring break

Washington University in St. Louis students traveled across the globe this spring break helping others.

They worked to provide clean water to a village in Honduras, taught students to read in Jamaica, planted trees in Israel, built homes for families in Tennessee and Louisiana and provided occupational therapy to toddlers in Guatemala.

Below, WUSTL students share their experiences through photos.

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Washington University School of Medicine occupational therapy students (from left) Megan Stanley, Julia Sanders, Elizabeth Eklund and Shamin Loi work with a child with a spondylocarpotarsal synostosis syndrome, a disorder than can cause clubfeet and abnormally fused vertebrae.

Sixteen students and two faculty members in the Program in Occupational Therapy at the School of Medicine traveled to Guatemala with an organization called Hearts in Motion.

“We visited special education classrooms, senior centers, rehab facilities and a nutrition center, where we provided therapy services,” said Janelle Hively, president of the Washington University Student Occupational Therapy Association. “In addition, we were able to visit Hope Haven, an organization that makes and delivers pediatric wheelchairs to those in need. It was an amazing trip with an immense amount of hands-on experience.”

(Washington University physical therapy students traveled to Guatemala with the same organization over winter break. For more on their experiences, visit here.)

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(Above) Freshman Ramona Durham helps a fifth-grader at Mile Gully Primary School in Jamaica.

Create to Educate, a newly formed Student Union group funded in part by the Gephardt Institute for Public Service, traveled to the rural town of Mile Gully, Jamaica, during spring break to work with elementary school students. This trip was the second component of a project that aims to build cross-cultural connections between Christ the King Catholic School in University City and Mile Gully Primary School through pen-pal relationships.

“The trip was not only a means to establish this relationship, but also a wonderful opportunity for Wash. U students to gain insight into the Jamaican educational system,” said sophomore Bridget Whaley, who led the trip with students Jenna Epstein, Annie Magovern and Emily Blagg.

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Senior Liz Lotsof (left) and sophomore Cole Davis use pickaxes to dig trenches for a new pipe to deliver fresh water in Honduras.

Global Brigade volunteers helped bring fresh water to the residents of El Junquillo, Valle, Honduras, this spring break. Sixteen students in the Water Brigade program used a pump to move water found approximately 330 feet underground to a storage and purification tank, and then they helped dig trenches for the underground pipe that will bring fresh water to individual homes.

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Students Maria Ahern and Juan Masi install siding on a newly built house in Johnson City, Tenn. Members of the Catholic Student Center have developed a relationship with a local parish to help provide affordable housing.
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Junior Katie Li and sophomore Jaclyn Boozalis asked for patient histories and symptoms while taking vital stats in Honduras.

As part of the Global Brigade’s Medical and Public Health Brigade program, 29 students saw some 500 patients in three days in the rural Honduran community of Montaña el Izopo.

For the second portion of the trip, students built showers, toilets, water-filtration systems and concrete floors for three families at Villa de Valles.

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Freshman Felice Segall and sophomores Leigh Brosof, Amy Solomon and Rachel LaVictoire pause for a photo at Neot Kedumim, a Biblical nature reserve near Tel Aviv, Israel.

St. Louis Hillel students traveled to southern Israel and Jerusalem through the nonprofit Jewish National Fund to take part in a sustainability and community development initiative called Blueprint Negev. The initiative seeks to help create sustainable communities in the Negev Desert in order to decrease the overpopulation of Israel’s central areas, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“During the week, we took on projects such as urban farming, planting trees and urban gardening, as well as hearing from speakers about the initiative and its effect on the people of Israel,” Brosof said.