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Ignacio volunteers serve abroad in Belize and Jamaica during Christmas break

Loyola press release - February 6, 2014

Thirty-seven Loyola University New Orleans students and staff went to Kingston, Jamaica to work with elderly and children with disabilities, while others traveled to the Mayan villages of Belize, to serve others for 10 days without electricity or running water. Their efforts over the Christmas break are a part of Loyola’s Ignacio Volunteer Program.

The semester-long program for undergraduates is organized by the Jesuit Center in the Office of Mission and Ministry. Students and staff spent the fall semester preparing for their trip, learning about the country, the culture and the people they would learn from and serve with. The volunteers put Loyola's mission to become men and women for and with others into practice in the international service trips.

In Belize, 16 Loyola students and six staff facilitated two Christmas camps for local primary school children in rural Mayan villages. The group taught nearly 100 children math, English and arts and crafts at the Santa Cruz Primary school. The Loyola students lived as the locals do, without electricity or running water, sleeping on mats on the ground and bathing in the river.

“This Belizean adventure urges me to not take any of my fortunes for granted and to evaluate my misfortunes with a wider lens,” said Loyola sophomore Eddy Schneider. “The Belizean village was so unique and amazing in its own way. In particular what stood out to me was the way that the people in the village all worked together to make the village a better place.”

In the village of San Jose, six student-athletes from the Loyola baseball team, along with their coach Doug Faust, shared their baseball skills with young Mayan children whose first-ever experience with baseball was when Loyola baseball players taught them last winter. Bringing bats, gloves, baseballs and other equipment that was donated by the team for the entire camp of more than 130 children, each afternoon was spent playing tee ball and trying to catch fly balls and grounders.

“This trip has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I have learned so much about myself and things I didn’t know, and I have gotten closer to a group of people and learned things about them that not many know,” said Loyola junior Dylan Roudolfich.

The Belize program included students Sheeri Bornstein, Akeem Biggs, Joel Buhler, Eric Crider, Leandra Garcia, Cherie LeJeune, Daniel Pappas, Michael Pfister, Brian Reaney, Allison Rogers, Roudolfich, Brittani Sanchez, Schneider, Brandon Snow, Charles Whitman and Alden Woodhull. Staff members included Jeff Castille, Edwin Madera, David McChesney, Peter Stewart and the Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry.

Fifteen Ignacio Volunteers also traveled to Jamaica to serve elderly and mentally/physically challenged young people in the tough urban areas of Kingston. Loyola students worked each day at homes run by Brothers of the Poor, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity and with young children at the Bustamante Hospital. The work was hard and tough, yet they learned as they served. Loyola nursing professor Patricia Lane, Ph.D., FNP-BC, also assisted.

The Jamaica program included students Jasmine Barnes, Marion Boreros, Shermicia Calice, Thea Celestine, Scott Clemens, Elyse Degree, Elizabeth Griffin, Nic Lefebvre, Bentlie Logan, Kylee McIntyre, Christina Paparo and Jordan Peota. Staff members included Heather Malveaux, Sam Bradley and Lane.

“Jamaica really taught me how to enjoy and appreciate the life I have,” Celestine, a senior at Loyola, said. “I am always reminding myself to live life and enjoy every inch of it because someone else would love the life I take for granted. Jamaica also taught me a sense of patience. Since I have returned I am very peaceful within and I hope it stays that way.”

For more information, visit the Ignacio Volunteer Program, or e-mail igvols@loyno.edu.