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October 24, 2002 Students travel abroad this summer to help less fortunate




by Craig Stein

Political science student Erin Carney is joining a cross-country bicycle trip called Bike and Build, departing June 14 from New Hampshire for Vancouver with 27 other students. Along the way, they’ll be raising money for housing for poor families.

“It’s going to be a great adventure,” Carney said. “Students are often interested in stuff like this, but don’t have the resources to make it happen.”

Each participant has to raise $3,750 US, which goes to Habitat for Humanity. As they cross the continent, the students will stop and work on the construction of seven Habitat for Humanity homes.

They will also offer a bicycle safety course to local young people.

The original plan was to bike across Canada, but it was cancelled due to lack of enrolment. However, there are plans to launch a trip from Montreal next June, and use the proceeds to build a Habitat for Humanity house in Montreal.

Yasmine Lemzoudi, a recent fine arts grad, will travel to Lebanon this summer. As a member of CEPAL (Canadian Palestinian Education Exchange), she will spend two months living and working in the Bourj El-Barajneh and Shatila refugee camps.

CEPAL, the only Canadian organization working in Lebanese camps, gives Palestinian refugees better access to education. It also tries to raise public awareness in Canada about Palestinian refugees, of whom about 300,000 live in Lebanon.

Lemzoudi will be living with a host family. She will teach English and French as second languages, as well as various arts programs. “Education is the basis for freedom, the basis for opening doors in people’s lives. CEPAL is a great program for that.”

When they return, CEPAL volunteers will give presentations on their experiences, and present a project created by their students.

STAC Montreal (Students Taking Action in Chiapas) is another organization that sends student volunteers abroad. Working with Schools for Chiapas, students are sent during the Christmas, Easter and summer school breaks to help build schools in the Zapatista centre of Oventic, Mexico.

The public education system (SEP) in Chiapas consists of a series of TV schools. According to STAC Montreal program director Gergey Pasztor, “Classes are transmitted by satellite from over 600 km away, and taught in Spanish only.”

STAC volunteers help to build schools where classes are taught in person by teachers who speak both Spanish and the native language, Tzotzil.

Volunteers can also participate in various local community collectives (women’s, coffee, shoe) as well as take language classes in Zapatista communities.

If you are interested in joining other Montreal students on this summer’s STAC trip, which takes place between July 27-Aug. 9, please contact Schools for Chiapas at www.schoolsforchiapas.org. Bike and Build and CEPAL can be reached at www.bikeandbuild.org and www.cepal.ca respectively.