A young “supervisor” peers at her new home through the crack of a door.

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By Evan Dresser

LEWISBURG, Pa. – A recent service trip left a group of Bucknell students with a better appreciation of Jewish culture, Uruguayan culture, and the importance of having a roof over your head.

Organized by the Berelson Center for Jewish Life, the May 21-31 trip included visits with the Jewish community in Montevideo through Hillel Uruguay, as well as contact with Uruguayan culture. It culminated in constructing temporary homes for some of Montevideo’s poorest citizens through the organization Un Techno Para Mi País (A Roof For My Country).

The 20 students separated into two groups for the building process, each constructing a simple pre-fabricated home over the course of two days. They worked to clear the sites, dig holes for supporting posts, erect the frames and walls, and put up roofs.

Satisfying experience
“Everyone was helping in one way or another. It was a very satisfying experience,” said junior Scott Roberts.

The trip wasn’t all work, however. The students also visited cultural sites, rode horses on a ranch, and explored the city. Even salsa dancing made the agenda.

“I enjoyed that, too, since I was able to experience something that’s part of my own culture,” said Alejandro “Zorro” Sanchez, Class of 2007, who has attended four of the five trips made possible by the “Human Tolerance and Understanding” fund created by Kenneth Langone, Class of 1957.

Real understanding
In addition to attending a local synagogue and observing the Jewish holiday of Shavu’ot, the students also paid a visit to Jewish senior citizens, contributing expert juggling and step-dance performances to their talent show.

“I find that these trips create real understanding,” explained Rabbi Serena Fujita. “By the end of the two days, we were truly a community.”

Left, Bucknell students pose with Rabbi Serena Fujita, Religious Life Assistant Linda Godfrey, and a Uruguayan family. At right, for a poor family in Uruguay, a simple but temporary home can be cause for celebration.

Contact: Office of Communications
Posted June 20, 2007