Jeffrey M. Fazio, M.Ed. 




Community Service Trip to Nyeri, Kenya

In December of 2008 I read a campus-wide e-mail that detailed the experience of engineering students from University Park that participated in an Eco-Village project at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre (CYEC) in Nyeri, Kenya. As the community service liaison for the campus, I thought this might be an ideal opportunity to choreograph an international service trip.

Originally, I visualized taking five students over to Kenya to provide basic community service on the Eco Village project (i.e. painting, landscaping). I felt it would have been a huge success just to get myself and a handful of students across the ocean to participate in this project.

The cost for such a project was going to quickly exceed $12,000. I worked with the Chancellor's Office to secure $8,000 through the Beaver Endowment Fund. I gained support for this project from the Director of Student Affairs who agreed to support the cost of my travel (roughly $2000). This left me $2000 short of the expected costs so I need to look further for funding.

I approached the Academic Affairs side of the campus and they indicated that they could supply up to $300 per student for international travel if the travel was course related. This opened up the awesome opportunity to include course work and reflection as part of the trip and it also secured another $1500 toward the expenses. That left only $500 (and incidentals) for the students to split so the trip was officially a "go."

Throughout the planning phases of this trip, I was a candidate for the Assistant Director of Student Affairs position at Penn State Schuylkill. I was offered, and accepted this position, which immediately jeopardized this trip. My next task was locating an appropriate staff member to take over this project. Penn State Berks' nurse practitioner, Alice Holland, was intrigued by the idea and accepted the challenge.

In hindsight, this was a tremendous opportunity for everyone as Alice took the trip to another level and expanded the program goals beyond what I originally conceived. At the time, Alice was working on her doctorate degree in human sexuality and the trip provided a venue for her to develop an age-appropriate educational program that was culturally acceptable for the young people at the CYEC.

Although I was not able to attend this trip, it was still wonderful to be a part of it and make sure that it still happened. In the end, Alice Holland and five students spent two weeks in Nyeri, Kenya during the summer of 2009 providing community service through sexual education. Two of the students on the trip secured 60-day internship experiences for the summer of 2010. There are also indications that the Nyeri CYEC community service trip may be an annual event for Penn State Berks.

EcoVillage News

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Photos from
Alice Holland

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