Students complete international mission work

Eleven University of St. Francis students put the university’s core values of respect, service, integrity and compassion into action while serving the poor in Sucre, Bolivia in June. Their mission was to help underprivileged children in Bolivia, which is one of the poorest countries in South America.

University of St. Francis students gather outside a neurological center for children in Sucre, Bolivia. Pictured in the back row from left to right is Michelle Miller, Chelsea Rimington, Hayden McGann, Sarah Steinhorst, Kathryn Lindemulder, Jessica Levandowski, Gretta Hollister and Paige Nelson. In the front row from left to right is Jessica Nayder, Madison Capodice, Lauren O’Keeffe and Emily Burt.

Emily Burt (Plainfield), Madison Capodice (Minooka), Gretta Hollister (Homer Glen), Jessica Levandowski (Wilmington ), Kathryn Lindemulder (Tinley Park), Hayden McGann (Crest Hill), Michelle Miller (Tinley Park ), Jessica Nayder (Mokena), Paige Nelson (Dwight), Lauren O’Keeffe (Joliet), Chelsea Rimington (Lena) and USF admissions counselor Sarah Steinhorst made the journey with a group from the Diocese of Joliet. The USF students are pursuing majors in nursing, education or social work and had much to offer the people they served in Bolivia.

Each morning of the trip, the group joined for Mass before taking off for various work sites including a hospital, two daycare centers, a neurological hospital for children, an adult psychiatric unit and an orphanage. Different duties and responsibilities were necessary at each location, including feeding and caring for children and giving nurses and health workers time to complete important tasks. After the work day, students had opportunities for reflection and dialogue about the day’s events.

The group brought clothes, shoes, school supplies and other needed items to the people of Sucre. Steinhorst explained that prior to the trip, each work site was asked to provide a “wish list” of things they needed. Then all of the participating missioners, in partnership with their schools and the Diocese, collected items from various sources and purchased additional items in Bolivia.

Student Jessica Nayder said, “Since I am an education major, I really enjoyed spending time with the children. Of all the sites, San Martin was my absolute favorite — it is a daycare for children of all ages. While there, we had the chance to help feed the children, play with them, assist with homework, and help some students who were asked to paint a large mural on their back wall. We were able to give the children individualized attention that they do not normally receive.”

“Though I know that we did a lot of great work in Bolivia, I truly feel that everyone who attended the trip came home with more than we could have ever given to the people of Bolivia. The kindness and compassion that we both witnessed and received in Bolivia is something that I will never forget. On this trip, I met some of the most wonderful people in the world,” Nayder said.