The BW Service Learning Club getting ready to depart the airport to Costa Rica (with Costa Rican flag). Submitted photo
The BW Service Learning Club getting ready to depart the airport to Costa Rica (with Costa Rican flag). Submitted photo

Submitted by Nicole Severson, BW Service Learning Club

WOODVILLE, WI – In the words of Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” and in July of 2018, that is exactly what the BW Service Learning Club set out to do in their trip to the village of El Roble in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica.  

The group of 14 middle and high school students, as well as two parents and three teacher chaperones travelled to Costa Rica, where they stayed with host families and helped the community by painting and cleaning different schools.  In addition to the service learning, travelers also ziplined through the rainforest, visited La Arenal volcano, and relaxed in the volcano’s natural hot springs. Now, the BW Service Learning Club is gearing up for their next service learning opportunity--working with school children on the DREAM environmental service project in the Dominican Republic in July 2020.

“This will be our third service-learning trip abroad for the Club,” said Nicole Severson, a middle school teacher who has co-led the Club’s prior two trips with students, “The experience is so valuable.  Not only do our students change the world through these trips, but the world changes our students.  The benefits of being in an entirely new part of the world coupled with working for something for no other reason except to be of service to others is immense.  No one returns from these trips as the same person they left as.”

On the upcoming trip, students will collaborate with area Dominican school children about ways to bring awareness to local and global issues of environmental sustainability.  “Our students will be directly involved in teaching the school children about environmental topics such as water pollution and how to prevent it.  They will be using their existing science knowledge to help them in the Dominican Republic,” Severson stated.  The work with DREAM will take place in the mornings, and the group will be involved in cultural and historical activities in the afternoons--such as hiking through El Choco National Park to get an up front view of the rainforest ecosystem.

This will be the third trip for the BW Service Learning Club.  In addition to the Costa Rica trip, the group started by building a school in Haiti in 2016.  “It was honestly the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life,” Severson said, referring to building the school from the ground up, “And if I’m honest, at the time I didn’t know if I wanted to do something like that again.”  But when students started asking her about the next trip they would take, Severson conceded.  “You can’t say no to students who are asking, even begging, to make a first-hand difference in the world.  You just can’t. They motivated me to make this experience a continuing journey.”  

There will be an informational and sign up meeting on Tuesday, January 24 at 6 p.m. in room 107 at Viking Middle School.  The trip is open for any middle or high school aged student and their parents in the area and is not limited to only the B-W community.  “We welcome anyone who has a desire to travel abroad and make a difference through service learning.” Severson said.  Fundraising opportunities and information will be available.  If you are unable to make the meeting, or if you have additional questions, you may email Nicole Severson at nmseverson656@gmail.com.