USD students volunteer with Habitat

USD students volunteer with Habitat
Twelve students from The University of South Dakota recently worked to make a family's housing dream come true as part of the Student Action Office (SAO) Habitat for Humanity Alternative Weekend of Service project.

The students traveled to Kansas City, KS, and worked with Kaw Valley Habitat for Humanity (KVHH), which builds homes for low-income people who invest 350 hours of "sweat equity" into their home or other Habitat for Humanity homes.�

The students' work primarily included painting at the home and over the course of the weekend they provided 168 hours of service. The students also participated in educational sessions about low-income homeowners and tenants with home repairs and legal issues. They also received a tour of neighborhoods in the area which are impacted by housing and criminal issues, as well as those that have greatly improved due to the efforts of local citizens.

"The purpose of this trip was to expose university students to urban issues with which they may not have been familiar," said SAO trip coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA member Matt Ernst. "We also wanted to challenge their thinking about similar issues that might be present in their own communities and how, as a citizen, they can deal with these issues."�

Several of the students participating in the weekend event were doing so as part of USD's graduation requirement, the Interdisciplinary Education & Action ("IdEA") Program, which pairs interdisciplinary study with community service-learning, research, or creative activity.

"Hopefully this trip allows the students to look at social problems from multiple perspectives and disciplines, which is a goal of the IdEA Program, Ernst said."�

Junior biology major, Kyle Dietz, Yankton, is in the IdEA "Living a Life of Leadership" theme.

"The urban core of (Kansas City) is a wonderful example of leadership. It takes leaders of a community to start change. I learned that leaders have to come from inside the community itself," Dietz said.

"An important factor that is discussed in my peace and conflict classes is the importance of meeting basic needs in order to develop peace on a more widespread level. I feel that I helped a family to meet the basic need of a home by participating in this trip," said senior psychology major Page Anderson, Benson, MN, who is enrolled in the IdEA "Peace and Conflict" theme.

Other student participants included Jessie Baier, Storm Lake, IA, Stephanie Roth, Parker, Tiffany Perry, Bruce, Stacey Gleason, Vermillion, Becky Jepsen, Gayville, Mindi Medalen, Rapid City, Amanda McDonald, Yankton, and Katie Martin, Lucas Lange, and Laura Tschetter of Sioux Falls.

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