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KSC Habitat Chapter to Build Home in Costa Rica

KEENE, N.H. 11/28/01 - A trip to Costa Rica in January for some people might be a way to escape the New Hampshire winter. For the student chapter of Habitat for Humanity at Keene State College, the motivation is a little different.

On January 3, 10 KSC students and five staff and faculty members will travel to San Jose, Costa Rica, to build a house for a local family and to help Costa Rican college students develop their own Habitat chapter. The expedition is being organized as part of Habitat for Humanitys Global Village Program, which is designed to provide educational and spiritual experiences for participants within cross-cultural environments.

The immediate priority, says trip co-leader Paul Striffolino, director of the Student Center, is fund-raising. The chapter is responsible for raising the money needed to buy building materials for the house. Were about $6,000 short of our $20,000 target, Striffolino says. The chapter will hold a buy a cinder block fund-raiser on Saturday, Dec. 8, at several locations around Keene and other appeals will be made to local service organizations. Once the target is reached, the chapter will order cinder blocks and sheet metal roofing from suppliers in Costa Rica.

The trip will be the first international experience for KSCs Habitat chapter, according to Don Hayes, community services coordinator at Keene State. Hayes, who will co-lead the trip with Striffolino, and Habitat student executives Stephanie Mills and Chris Young, explains that the Costa Rican build will present a number of challenges for the KSC group. We have plenty of experience working with different communities on builds in the U.S., but none of us have worked in a foreign environment and culture, he says.

The trip leaders are trying to cram as much work and time for cultural experiences as possible into 10 days, says Mills, a sophomore. Besides the five days allocated to start and finish building the house, the group will spend a day with local college students and the remainder of the time traveling to other parts of the country. The motto of the trip, says Mills, is to expect the unexpected.

This trip is all about paving the way for future house builds and student exchanges, she says. Well find out what its like to live and build there. We dont really know the Costa Rican peoples expectations or their experience with Habitat.

The Keene State contingent will also collaborate with students from the University of Costa Rica, says Hayes. The local students will join the KSC group for one day at the work site. The KSC group will then spend a half-day at the UCR campus, working with students there to set up a Habitat chapter and to develop future exchange opportunities.

KSCs Habitat chapter is regarded as one of the countrys leading college student service organizations. Last year, the chapter was selected by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators as the New Hampshire program of the year, out of all college service groups in the state, for its contributions to local and Alternative Spring Break builds.

Donations can be sent to Costa Rica Trip Building Materials, Office of Advancement, KSC, 229 Main Street, Keene, N.H. 03435-2701. Checks should be made out to KSC.

For more information, contact Don Hayes, community services coordinator, at 603-358-2665.

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