Published Friday, Dec. 20, 2013

Winter break service trips abroad expected to transform Washburn students

Students in the Nicaragua group at the study abroad awards ceremony

Nearly 40 Washburn students will spend the majority of their winter break earning credits while doing service in another country.

Delegations will travel to Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and India for between 12 and 16 days each during December and January. Among the 38 students participating, 29 of them are completing the Washburn Transformational Experience in international education, qualifying them for substantial scholarship support.

“The service learning programs are the most transformational that our students have,” said Tina Williams, study abroad coordinator in Washburn’s international programs office who will travel to Belize. “By getting your hands dirty, by making personal connections with people in need of your help, you are learning skills and things you will take into your future.”

Learn more about the Washburn Transformational Experience.


Washburn University is partnered with non-governmental organization ProNica for the seventh time to provide a service and educational experience for students.

Leaving Jan. 1 and returning Jan. 16, 2014, 14 students will travel to Managua and several other communities in western Nicaragua. They will work alongside Nicaraguans.

Students, led by Rick Ellis, who directs the Center for Community and Civic Engagement and Learning in the Community (LinC), also will learn about the country’s history, culture and the impact of U.S. government policies on the country. Students will stay with families in a rural village during four nights of their stay.

“We leave as Kansans and return as Nicaraguans,” Ellis said.

One student, Suzie Fields, of Cummings, Kan., is making the trip for the third time.

“They’re like my second family,” Fields said of the people of El Limón, in the Estelí district, where the students homestay.

When technology infrastructure allows, a blog will be updated sharing the adventures of the Ichabods in Nicaragua. Visit the blog anytime.


In addition to their service work in orphanages and at an island school, the 15 students traveling to Belize Dec. 28, 2013 will present posters at the annual Belizean International Symposium on Education. The group will return Jan. 8, 2014. The group is led by Judith McConnell-Farmer, professor of education.

Costa Rica

Five students will travel Jan. 4-15, 2014 to Costa Rica with Randy Pembrook, vice president of academic affairs at Washburn. This is the third time Pembrook has led students to Costa Rica. This year, students will work with a youth camp, building, painting and bug-proofing a cabin and deck and constructing a sidewalk, he said.

“We try to keep a careful balance,” Pembrook said. “We work hard. We do important things. But there also is downtime.” The group will see a volcano as well as visit a national waterfall park and a butterfly park.


New this year over winter break is a program with Symbiosis International University. Three Washburn students and several community members will join Andy Vogel, coordinator of international student recruitment and retention, as they study and discover the culture, civilization and traditions of India in several cities. The group will be gone Dec. 27, 2013 until Jan. 15, 2014.