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Seven Syracuse University students to travel to Botswana May 12 to build classrooms for street children orphaned by HIV/AIDS

May 07, 2008

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-5381

Kelly Homan Rodoski

Seven students engaged through Protestant Campus Ministry at Syracuse University's Hendricks Chapel will leave Syracuse on May 12 to embark on a journey to the southern African nation of Botswana. There, they will do their part to make a difference for street children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Led by Protestant Chaplain Kelly Sprinkle, the group will arrive in Botswana on May 14 to begin building two classrooms onto a school in the country's capital city of Gabarone that is part of the Botswana Council of Churches' Tsholofelong Recovery Program for Street Children. The Botswana Council of Churches is an umbrella organization that offers education, like skills training and other services to orphaned street children.

After an orientation session on Wednesday, May 14, the students will spend the next five days -- Thursday through Tuesday -- on the construction of the new classrooms. On Sunday, they will worship in various local churches.

The group will make an overnight excursion to a game reserve and spend a day sightseeing in Johannesburg, South Africa, before returning to the United States on Saturday, May 24, arriving in Syracuse that afternoon.

"The students will engage children, adults and their peers in an attempt to understand both the pain and the hope that is found on the continent of Africa," says Sprinkle. "The two weeks we will spend in Botswana will enable students to grow in their faith while serving others."

Students making the trip are graduate students Collin Capano of Corinth, N.Y., and Clarence Cross of Washington, D.C.; seniors Robert Coulter of Lewiston, N.Y., and Bethany Moelker of Southfield, Mich.; juniors Nikole Saulsberry of Houston and Kate Vanderpool of Camillus, N.Y.; and sophomore Kim Wolfe of Syracuse.

Saulsberry, a senior in SU's College of Visual and Performing Arts, says she could not pass up the opportunity that this trip provides to help others. "I am going on this mission trip because it is a great way to put my faith into action," she says. "For me, Christianity is not just about believing in Christ, it is also about following his example. One of his greatest teachings is to love thy neighbor. I can think of no other way to demonstrate love than by being of service. It is my prayer that this experience will serve as the catalyst to an already ignited passion for international service, learning and travel."

Cross, a 2007 graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a current graduate student, says he has wanted to travel to Africa for the past five years. "I am going on this trip to gain a wider perspective of the world and myself," he says. "I hope to learn more about the troubles plaguing the continent, and I plan to share this experience with my peers to spark a greater sense of urgency about the trouble in Africa.

"I expect every part of myself to become greater in terms of meaning and depth during this Africa service experience," says Cross. "My father often told me growing up, `there are two kinds of people in this world: those who need help and those who help those who need help.' Everyone deserves to help and to be helped. I hope I will be able to do my small part in Africa."

SU's Division of Student Affairs provided significant funding for the trip. "Scholarship in Action is about teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom, and much more as it creates opportunities for students to apply their knowledge in engaging with today's most serious issues," says Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Barry L. Wells. "I'm proud of the Syracuse University students who are embracing the concepts of citizenship and are making a very positive impact on our world, whether in Botswana or right here in Syracuse."

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