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Kirtland reaches out with Service Learning trip

ROSCOMMON – Students at Kirtland Community College are being given the opportunity to see a different part of the world, lend a helping hand to people in need and get class credit through the college’s Service Learning and Global Awareness programs.

Kirtland officials have organized a seven-day trip for students to Guatemala, where they visit with other college students and work with local agencies to get a new perspective on the fight against poverty, as well as gain a more global perspective.

“One goal is to provide an international experience for our students,” said Nick Holton, a math instructor and Service Learning coordinator at Kirtland. “Our students increasingly need to see that they are part of a bigger world. They are no longer able to hide out in their little corner of northern Michigan.”

The trip is set for May 2-9, with students leaving Michigan bound for Guatemala City, the country’s capital. The cost is partially dependent on how many take advantage of the opportunity. At the minimum capacity of 10 students, cost is $1,200 per person. But, if the trip goes with the maximum of 20 students, the cost drops to just $800 per person.

“This trip was designed for Kirtland students first, but there should be room for non-students and students from other colleges, as well,” Holton said.

Those wanting to register for the trip need to do so by Monday, Feb. 15. A deposit of $250 is due at that time.

During the trip, participants will stay at local motels, located within walking distance of the capital city’s national plaza and a cathedral. There’s also the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, as well as the city’s central plaza. Other sites and destinations include the colonial city of Antigua, the volcanic lake Santiago Atitlan and the western highland city of Quetzaltenango/Xela.

“Our international service learning trip will take learning adults around the world, introducing them to the peoples and situations of Guatemala,” said AmeriCorps* VISTA volunteer Monica Martinez, who is help organizing the project. “The participants will be exposed to beautiful natural scenes, such as an active volcano and a vibrant coffee plantation, while also having the opportunity to speak with political and activist leaders in Guatemala and having discussions on an array of educational topics.”

Make no mistake; traveling to the Central American country is more than a sight-seeing trip. Participants will also be involved in educational sessions and community service opportunities involving such topics as: agriculture and sustainable development; education; globalization and trade; health; women’s issues; indigenous rights; and human rights and politics.

“The goal of this international service learning trip to Guatemala is to develop Kirtland students into global citizens,” Martinez said. “Once students are exposed to the social injustices and complex solutions on an international scale, it will be easy for them to return with a recognition that the same problems exist on the local scale. It is the hope of the Service Learning program that the students will take this recognition to become leaders with solutions.”

About 3,200 students attend Kirtland on an annual basis to study in the more than 80 certificate and two-year degree programs offered at Kirtland’s three locations – the main campus near Roscommon, the Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC) in Gaylord and in West Branch – with the college’s service area including all or parts of Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, Roscommon, Otsego, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Gladwin and Alcona counties, and the surrounding areas.

For more information on the upcoming trip, interested persons may contact Martinez via e-mail at martinem@kirtland.edu or call 989-275-5000, extension 349.