LYNDON CENTER -- Eight Lyndon State College students and two chaperones are spending nine days of their winter break working with school-age children in Central America instead of working on their tan. On Feb. 16 the group traveled to Quetzaltenango, a town in southwestern Guatemala about 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean; they will return on Feb. 24. The service learning trip is part of a one-credit junior level psychology class. This is the first semester students can earn credit by participating in the trip.

The group will spend mornings at a high school teaching team-building to students. Afternoons are dedicated to an elementary school where the group will work on a variety of assignments from manual labor to art projects to physical education classes. The group will also visit Perramos, the site of last year's trip, to see how things have progressed. In 2011, the group built a wall around a newly established cooperative garden and dug plots within the garden, built a home for a local family, and painted a church.

The students have been studying a variety of topics including gender and cultural differences as well as the political climate in preparation for the trip. The group members are Rachel Keller, Julie Austin, Miranda Saunders, Keisha Hegarty, Nichole Slabinski, Danielle Pinson, Rachel Egbert and Megan Seidell. Keller, Austin and Saunders are service learning trip veterans; the rest are first-timers. Chaperones are Darcie Miles and Cindy Robertson, staff members at the college. The trip's cost was partially defrayed through class lab fees, as well as funds the group raised from a holiday raffle.

Students and staffers from Lyndon have traveled to Guatemala for service learning trips for several years now. This is one hard-working vacation. One new feature this year, students will be posting updates to Lyndon State's Facebook page (Facebook.com/LyndonState) so everyone can stay informed about the groups' activities and accomplishments.

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