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Sources: Jamie Schendt or Shawna Peters, 785-532-0672,
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-2535,

Thursday, May 12, 2011


MANHATTAN -- Several Kansas State University students plan to make a difference by spending their summer break as members of the university's International Service Teams.

Now in its 22nd year, K-State's International Service Teams have served in communities worldwide, helping with specific needs, including projects focused on health, education, environmental concerns and other developmental issues.

Service team members gain leadership experience and develop an appreciation for different cultures and perspectives during their summer of service. Students must apply to be considered, with selections based on adaptability, creativity in problem-solving, flexibility, team skills, language proficiency and other skills.

This year's interdisciplinary teams are headed to Brazil, Kenya and Mexico for eight to 10 weeks, where they will work on service projects.

Team Esperanca in Brazil will go to Jacunda to live and work at the Project Rescue Amazon Youth -- or PRAY -- orphanage, which was founded and run by a group based in Wamego. This summer marks the fifth time that an International Service Team has worked at the orphanage. Team members will provide on-site assistance to the house parents, community outreach efforts and help with co-curricular activities with the children of the orphanage.

Team Kupenda in Kenya will work at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre in Nyeri. Team members will help with after-school programming and teach classes. They also will work on creating a volunteer management and training curriculum for the center to use in the future. An International Service Team has been going to Kenya since 2008.

Team Amistad in Mexico will be working in collaboration with the Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. The team will be serving in the nearby community of La Preciosita and staying in homestays. Team members will help teach English to youths and assist with women empowerment initiatives. Team members also will learn about traditional cultural practices.

International team members and their destinations include:

Taylor Schmidt, sophomore in political science, Greensburg, Team Kupenda in Kenya; Aimee Niedenthal, sophomore in biology, Lawrence, Team Esperanca in Brazil; Kaitlin Long, sophomore in elementary education, Leawood, Team Kupenda in Kenya; Logan Hoover, junior in sociology, and Kelly Zachariasen, junior in biology and Spanish, both from Manhattan and both on Team Amistad in Mexico; Sierra Dirksen, sophomore in social work, Newton, Team Kupenda in Kenya; Aubrey Berke, senior in fine arts and secondary education, Overland Park, Team Kupenda in Kenya; Jordan Fief, junior in milling science and management, Salina, Team Esperanca in Brazil; Maggie Burger, sophomore in anthropology and French, Summerfield, Team Esperanca in Brazil; Jim Smerchek, sophomore in secondary education and Spanish, Topeka, Team Amistad in Mexico; and Logan Gauby, senior in human ecology, Washington, Team Kupenda in Kenya.