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Bethel University Students Serve in Guatemala


GUATEMALA CITY — Six Bethel University students helped ensure Guatemalan children had healthy smiles March 5-11 as part of a Global Studies collaboration with Cumberland Presbyterian missionaries. Led by Stacie Freeman, director of Bethel’s international outreach, and fellow co-founder of a new nonprofit for student-staffed travel service projects, Julie Hill, the trip included a mix of compassionate ministry and culture-sharing.

In Guatemala, the group of six students, accompanied by administrators and four other adults worked with local Cumberland Presbyterian missionaries John and Esperanza Correa and Socorro Pejendino.

Local students who participated are Jacey McClure, Isabelle Wright, Chloe Isbell, Andrew Carpenter, Gracelyn Eaves, and Alex Fansler. Adult supporters were Joel and Teresa Washburn, Veronica Perkins, and LeAnne Moore.

The group’s mission was to provide dental hygiene products and fluoride treatments to 150 students in a Guatemalan primary school.

At the primary school, the Bethel students taught the children how to brush their teeth, provided them with a free toothbrush and toothpaste, and then administered a fluoride treatment to each primary school-age student. The Bethel students then examined the children’s teeth with a Spanish translator documenting each child’s name and location of cavities. The local dentist will provide follow care.

In addition to the service-learning work, the students enjoyed visiting the historic city of Antiqua with its cobblestone streets, Mayan ruins, and many architectural structures from Mayan and Colonial times.

A boat trip across beautiful Lake Atitlan, created by a volcano, led to a private home, where the students witnessed the making of garments and blankets by a Mayan master weaver of the Kaqchikel people and her daughter who continues the tradition of the laborious work on a loom.

With the generous support of community members, the Bethel group donated surplus dental hygiene products to the local dentist to help other people in the country.

Students visited a second location - an after-school feeding program, where they repeated their task of dental hygiene.

The group also interacted with students at both schools in leading drum circles with a focus on developing communication and leadership skills through listening and creative music making. These activities led by Dr Julie Hill with the assistance of both student and community member participants, was made possible by the generous donation of the percussion instruments donated by REMO Inc.

Freeman and Hill, co-CEOs formed Global Citizen Adventure Corps (GCAC), a non-profit organization based in Dresden, Tenn. to offer high school and college students in the Mid-South and Ohio Valley education, travel, and service opportunities around the world. Through Bethel, GCAC provides college credit and, as a nonprofit accepts donations for scholarships.

“Our mission is to increase mutual respect for people, places, and planet,” said Freeman. “With partners like Bethel and Cumberland Presbyterian we can help open eyes to young people in primarily rural areas and offer opportunities they would rarely see in their educational journey.”

For more information about Bethel Global Studies contact: freemans@bethelu.edu. For more on GCAC, visit https://globalcitizenadventurecorps.org/.


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