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Students fund and build Malawian school

August 27, 2012

Global engagement is an integral part of the Lewis & Clark experience. From our long-standing tradition of overseas programs to alternative breaks, students have many opportunities to learn and serve abroad.

In May, 13 undergraduate students traveled to Malawi on a service trip they worked to fund all year. Through bake sales, a benefit concert, and a silent auction, the two-year-old Lewis & Clark BuildOn chapter raised over $30,000 to build a school in a small village just outside of Kasungu. Bill Fish ’76 also supported the group and hosted a kickoff fundraiser.

Of 30 college BuildOn chapters in the country, Lewis & Clark was the first to ever fully fund a school abroad.

In the following Q&A, 4 of the 14 participants share thoughts about their experience.

Lana Sanford ’15

Hometown: Midland, Texas
Major: physics

How did you prepare for the trip?

Lewis & Clark has such a great study abroad program! So many students gave me advice specific to East Africa.

What was it like to be a Lewis & Clark student abroad?

It was fantastic to represent the integrity and intellect of our school. Our group was incredibly diverse, and we all brought different information and experiences with us to Malawi.

How do you think the Lewis & Clark community can benefit from your experience?

I feel that as a group we have gained a greater understanding of the needs of a developing country. I feel that there are many misconceptions surrounding life in a rural village and what it takes to help a community. I think our group has gained incredible insight that could help expand the Lewis & Clark community culturally.

Alyssa Ransbury BA ’12

Hometown: Sacramento, California
Majors: sociology/anthropology and religious studies

How did you prepare for the trip?

My semester abroad in Vietnam and previous backpacking in Kenya and Tanzania more than prepared me for this trip. Sociology/anthropology classes were also extremely helpful, as were countless conversations with Lewis & Clark students and professors.  Our advisor, Yung-Pin Chen, was incredibly supportive and was always looking for ways to help us.

What was it like being a Lewis & Clark student abroad?

No one we met had ever heard of Lewis & Clark. We came to represent the whole United States in the community where we stayed. So much of the trip was about looking past differences and recognizing the humanity we all have in common.

What have you gained from your experience?

I gained a new family thousands of miles away!

How do you think the Lewis & Clark community can benefit from your experience?

I think all of us came back from this trip ready to talk about our experiences and to share what we have learned. This experience opens new doors to Lewis & Clark students who are interested in international development, volunteering, and new experiences in general.

Katherine Quaid ’14

Hometown: Madras, Oregon
Major: sociology/anthropology

How did you prepare for the trip?

Living in the multicultural dorm [Akin] helped me prepare for the trip because many of my friends have travelled all over the world and were able to give me advice. As far as classroom experiences go, the curriculum I have taken has helped with giving me some sort of understanding of Malawi and its culture.

What have you gained from your experience?

One of the biggest things I have gained was a greater understanding of my privilege as an English-speaking American in the world, as well as recognizing my privilege for living in a place where I have access to education and health care. I was given an experience that has given me insight into what I want to do with my life, and how I’m going to go about it.

How do you think the Lewis & Clark community can benefit from your experience?

By hearing about our trip, Lewis & Clark community members can gain a better understanding of Malawian culture and programs like this they can take part in. Our campus benefits from BuildOn because it provides yet another way for students to be involved in the global community and gain experience that can be used after college.

Ariel Gold ’15

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Major: East Asian studies

How did you prepare for the trip?

My desire to learn about new cultures and my experiences traveling worldwide provided me with the ability to have an open mind with the only expectation being exposing myself to the opportunity to interact with a culture completely different than my own.

What have you gained from your experience?

I have gained insight into a world that shares almost nothing with the life I live in America. The people in Malawi are unconditionally kind and generous. They are genuinely happy and in good spirits despite having little to nothing. As a fellow group member pointed out, it shouldn’t have taken a trip halfway across the world to realize what a wonderful family and privileged, healthy life I have.

How do you think the Lewis & Clark community can benefit from your experience?

BuildOn works to raise awareness of the importance of education in third world countries. All of our fundraisers provide the community with an opportunity to learn about how a single school can change hundreds of lives. We hope that the Lewis & Clark community will listen to our stories and join our cause to continue educating underprivileged children around the world.


The following students and recent alumni raised money and traveled to Malawi:

Eve Ben Ezra ’14, Ariel Gold ’15, Katie Keith ’15, Maddy Kidd ’14, Anna Lofstrand ’13, Jose Molina BA ’12, Megumi Negata ’13, Kate Owens ’14, Katherine Quaid ’14, Alyssa Ransbury BA ’12, Delia Russo-Savage ’15, Lana Sanford ’15, and Neal Walker BA ’11.

Next year, members of the Lewis & Clark BuildOn chapter hope to raise money to build a school in Haiti. More information about the group’s efforts in Malawi is available on the BuildOn website.

Lewis & Clark Student Life


Zibby Pillote ’14 contributed to this story.

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