Community engagement in Mexico

Miami students pour concrete at the orphanage

Miami students pour concrete at the orphanage      

In its third year, the Miami University Community Engagement in Mexico study abroad trip (a collaboration between CEC and the College of Education, Health & Society) moved to the beaches of Mexico for the winter term.

This program featured three weeks of coursework in Oxford and one week of volunteering with the Cincinnati organization Back2Back. The trip, previously held in the Mountains of Monterrey, was in Mazatlan, where Back2Back does their work with special needs children. This is also the home base of Adam Gellenbeck, a Miami architecture grad who helped the Miami students along the way.

The classes taken by the thirteen CEC students on the trip were EDT 225: Family, School & Community Connections and MME 341: Engineering Economics, taught by Jim Shiveley and John Richter, respectively.

With the new challenges brought forth by the change of venue, new opportunities for the students arose.

“The students were hanging out with kids that literally couldn’t discern what their future would look like,” Richter, clinical faculty member in the department of mechanical & manufacturing engineering, “for them to interact with each other was so important.”

Students work and play with underprivileged children

Students work and play with underprivileged         

While the three weeks in Oxford were focused on coursework, the week in Mexico was focused on service.

There were two pieces of the service component for the students. The first was manual labor—painting, cleaning, hanging windows, pouring concrete—and the other was learning about, and participating in, trauma care for the students who have been abused or neglected. The students, who were taught how laughter can be very beneficial to the children, got to play with the kids and help them with their day to day activities.

The Miami students also spent one day feeding kids in Vegas, a homeless village. They cooked and handed out 110 hot dogs, as well as doing face painting and playing soccer.

But, of course, the students were also learning. Gellenbeck, a Miami graduate, did a comprehensive review with the students of the architectural projects he was currently working on, and helped the students understand the real-world applications of their engineering economics coursework.

By Paige Smith