For many Wittenberg University students, it has become a rite of passage. En route to a coveted degree from one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country, hundreds of students over the last decade have participated in a life-altering service trip to the African kingdom of Lesotho.
Once again, a group of Wittenberg students and faculty members are in Lesotho, this time giving their entire break between semesters in the 2012-13 school year to making a difference in one of the most impoverished nations on earth. The traveling party landed in Lesotho on Saturday, Dec. 15, and will return to the United States just in time for the start of classes on Monday, Jan. 7.
Students are maintaining a blog, which will include their daily insights and updates on their projects.
The service opportunity, first initiated by Wittenberg Associate Professor of History Scott Rosenberg in 2003, gives students the opportunity to assist local communities through personal interaction and the expansion of community resources. Past groups have constructed a community center, erected playground equipment and painted classrooms at preschools for orphans, and planted sustainable gardens.
This year figures to be no different as students participate in a range of activities, working with local residents to make improvements in the community. While there, Wittenberg students eat traditional foods, learn local customs and also interact with children in an HIV clinic to see first-hand the results of the devastating disease, which afflicts a significant portion of the population in Lesotho.
Rosenberg, once a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, has been volunteering for nearly 20 years. In addition to serving as Wittenberg’s adviser for HFH, he also established WittBuild, a three-and-a-half year campaign that raised money to fund a house built by Wittenberg students for the Springfield community.
Rosenberg said the student volunteers’ generosity and compassion in Lesotho especially impressed him, and he described the experience as moving.