Hays community, FHSU team up For Hays Helps Haiti

Fort Hays State University and the Hays community are teaming up to help Haiti relief efforts. Hays Helps Haiti is a campus-community partnership that will help coordinate area-wide activities to assist in earthquake recovery efforts.

Over the summer, the departments of Nursing and Advanced Education Programs started developing an online class for the spring, which has a service-learning trip component. About the same time, plans began forming about a spring break mission trip coordinated by Hays area churches. Early this fall, the Center for Civic Leadership joined the project as well, offering to coordinate an alternative spring break trip to Haiti.

"We decided that there is greater strength in numbers, that we could make a greater impact as a community than as individual groups," said Casey Kelch Rohleder, Academic Affairs marketing specialist and member of the Hays Help Haiti leadership team.

"Haiti: An Immersion Experience" is an online course offered in spring 2011 with a scheduled trip to Haiti. This course will explore the dynamics between education, poverty and health care, will discuss the key values of followership, cultural humility and relationship building and will examine systemic elements that impact poverty. Students will also have the opportunity to travel to Haiti over spring break, March 18-25, 2011. This course will be offered to both undergraduate and graduate students and is open to all students regardless of degree program.

While in Haiti, all three groups -- students from the class, Center for Civic Leadership participants and the church mission participants -- will work in a variety of settings, including orphanages, shools and clinics and in other areas in need of assistance. Assistance may come in the form of light construction and repair projects, playing with children in an orphanage or helping out in a school.

The approximate cost for the trips will be $1,200 to $1,500 per person. Fundraising efforts this fall and in the spring will help offset travel costs and raise money for partner organizations in Haiti. If students are interested in taking the course for credit, tuition fees also apply.

An informational meeting, open to the public, will be from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5, in Albertson Hall, room 169, on the FHSU campus. For more information, contact Dr. Liane Connelly, chair of the Department of Nursing, at lconnell@fhsu.edu or 785-628-4498.

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