Winter service trip broadens student’s perspective


Marissa Shelhamer is planning to soon study abroad in Ireland but got a quick taste of international travel this winter — a trip that came with an added reward.

Shelhamer, a sophomore mathematics major, spent a week in Honduras volunteering with Bloomsburg University’s Students Helping Honduras, an organization working to change the lives of Honduran families through trying to end extreme poverty and violence.

“This trip benefited me as an individual,” says Shelhamer, adding she walked away from the experience with a high sense of gratitude. “The entire trip showed me how fortunate I am to have a safe, protected bed at night with a loving family who never had to worry about having enough food or clean water.”

A luxury that may be taken for granted in the United States but not in Honduras, according to Shelhamer, is education. The opportunity for the Honduran children to go to school is a privilege, she says.

In addition, Shelhamer met several influential people during her volunteer work.

“I think getting to know some of the locals has made realize how many incredible people are on this planet,” says Shelhammer, adding they worked with a man named Eugenio who donated part of his land in order for a school to be built. “The opportunity for his grandchildren to go to school was priceless. His smile and his eyes said more than his words ever could.”

The winter break experience sparked even more excitement for Shelhamer to study abroad. It also enabled her passion for helping others and the many things she appreciates about her life.

“After spending a week down there in a complete different culture and living within their village, and I am even more excited to study abroad,” Shelhamer said. “It allowed me to see how little others can have and how they make the most of it. Being exposed to other cultures has allowed me to see things from a whole different perspective.”