ISV Project Leader Kyall Forster tells us about this unique group!
From the 2nd - 10th of March, 2012 I led a group of 16 students from Texas American University, Qatar on behalf of ISV and SAVE, our local project partner.
The “Aggies”, as the students form Texas American University like to call themselves, were involved in laying a concrete floor in Wolverifier Settlement (all mixed by hand!) as well as making a 2 metre high security fence in Dunoon Township. There was a lot of physical labor including digging, mixing, heavy lifting and also a lot of sweat involved in these two projects, but the group worked hard and managed to finish a day ahead of schedule!
The group was made up of a diverse group of students currently studying in Qatar, although made up of many, varying nationalities, including America, Pakistan, Bangladesh and of course a few Qatar nationals. The students come from a variety of backgrounds, many of which were fortunate in that they came from wealthy families. Watching them all experience South Africa and seeing the change in their attitudes from day one until the end has been such a great experience for me, and rewarding in the fact that as volunteers, they not only helped others, but also learned and grew from the experience personally.
An article of their experience was posted on the Texas A & M website and one student's comment summed it up well: Ramon Shitta, a mechanical engineering junior and trip participant, said, “The experience was exciting and humbling from the first day to the last. I would do the same project all over again if I had the chance.”
I admit that I initially felt challenged leading a group of students from Qatar as I was unfamiliar with their cultural backgrounds which are different to my own, and also unsure as to how they would enjoy the volunteer work we would be doing. However, looking back, it has been one of the hardest working groups I have had the pleasure of leading.
Many thanks to the students and their leaders, Steve and Rachel, for their hard work over the last week and I look forward to keeping in contact with Texas American University and its students.
Kyall Forster, ISV Project Leader, South Africa.
To find out more about ISV's programs in South Africa visit here.