AWOL: Disaster Relief

AWOL: Disaster Relief

AWOL: Disaster Relief
Front: Samantha Hirshman, Cassandra Forsyth, Alejandra Mendoza; Beatrice Biedenfeld, Ariana Butterfield, Hanging off the end Emily Phipps. Back: Kevin Coriolan, Deven Rieck, Embrosia (Echo) King, Michael Kaufman.

Participants in the Disaster Relief trip experienced the after-effects of a weather-related disaster and gained an understanding of the long process of recovery and rebuilding when they traveled to Greeley, Colo., and assisted with cleanup efforts from last year’s catastrophic flooding. Students completed a variety of cleanup tasks, worked with a local Habitat for Humanity chapter, cleared debris from a fish farm, volunteered at a food bank and helped restore a historic horse barn.

Advisors for the experience were Dr. Andrea Frantz, associate professor of digital media and Tami Laursen, director of health services and wellness at BVU.

“An AWOL trip is a break from school, but it’s a different sort of break,” said Frantz. “Education, at its foundation, is about risk-taking and stepping outside your comfort zone, and experiences like these are really new for our students. It’s when you’re out of that comfort zone, when you’re learning about someone else’s life and their struggles by living it, that’s when the lesson really sticks.”

“There was an open mic at a dinner hosted for residents affected by the flood and volunteers from all over the country,” said Beatrice Biedenfeld, a senior management major from Colfax and a student site leader for the trip. “Listening to their stories, I was impressed with the optimism and hope they all had, no matter what was handed to them. It really reminded me how lucky I am and how important it is to give back.”

Kevin Coriolan, a senior corporate communication and digital media major from Worthington, Minn., was also a student site leader for the trip. Other students who participated in the Disaster Relief AWOL experience were Cassandra Forsyth, a senior graphic design, digital communication and digital media major from Griswold; Emily Phipps, a junior biology major from Monroe; Michael Kaufmann, a senior accounting, finance and banking and business economics major from Harlan; Samantha Hirschman, a freshman biology major from Cherokee; Embrosia (Echo) King, a junior athletic training major from Claremore, Okla.; Ariana Butterfield, a junior music major from Canton, S.D.; Alejandra Mendoza, a sophomore Spanish major from Alta; and Deven Rieck, a sophomore social work major from Valparaiso, Neb.