Clarksville, TN – A group of Austin Peay State University students recently spent a week during winter break in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, volunteering their time during an annual intensive service trip.
This year’s group of 18 students traveled with Dr. Matthew Kenney, director of Austin Peay’s President’s Emerging Leaders Program (PELP), to the small town of La Romain, where they worked with Habitat for Humanity on a local housing project.
Austin Peay students erected the steel frame walls for a two-bedroom home, as well as putting on siding on the exterior walls. Fifteen juniors and three senior students spent a total of five days on the project, devoting a total of 665 man hours to the project.
“This group was so unified and worked exceptionally well together throughout the trip,” Kenney said. “Our primary purpose for being there is (constructing the house), and even though many of the students had never even used power tools before, they took a project that was just a poured slab of concrete and worked together to finish the project.”
This year marked the sixth time that Kenney has led a group of Austin Peay students to Trinidad and Tobago, and the ninth house build through the collaboration between Austin Peay and Habitat for Humanity.
In addition to partnering with Habitat for Humanity while in Trinidad and Tobago, students were exposed to the local culture through various outings, such as visiting a Hindu temple, touring a bird sanctuary for scarlet ibises and attending, and participating in, a steel drum demonstration.
“These PELP students know that they’re going somewhere off the beaten path, so they want to experience the culture and see how normal (Trinidad and Tobago) citizens live,” Kenney said. “We didn’t stay far from the construction site in a hotel, we stayed in (common) housing. We wanted to give the students a chance to experience what normal life is like in the country.”
The Presidents Emerging Leaders Program helps prepare students at APSU for a lifetime of leadership. The program creates an environment that develops leaders for the future through the twin virtues of scholarship and service. PELP students must maintain a cumulative collegiate GPA of at least 3.25 and they must enroll in at least 12 credit hours per semester.
For more information about this project, or the President’s Emerging Leaders Program, contact Kenney at 931.221.6398.