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Texas A&M at Qatar students volunteer to build homes in local villages in Thailand

Published Jun 06, 2018

Eighteen Texas A&M at Qatar engineering students spent a week volunteering in Thailand as part of the annual Aggie Service-Learning Experience.

The program gives students the opportunity to work with community members in local villages through various building projects and hands-on selfless service.

Students raised more than QAR 25,000 before the trip and then used the money to fund building houses and refurbishing schools and equipment in the villages of Tad Lom and Karin in the north of Thailand. The students laid the foundation, mixed concrete, assembled appliances, built and painted the walls, among other tasks. The work was done alongside community members leading the initiative in each village so that the students’ work reflects what the community wants and is carried out in their vision.

The Aggie Service-Learning Experience is rooted in the Aggie core value of selfless service and promotes intercultural communication. The program provides students opportunities to volunteer, which helps students grow as individuals and learn through real-life experiences.

Safin Bayes, one of the student volunteers, said, “This experience has made me stronger — not physically, but emotionally. This trip has given me thousands of reasons to appreciate my life.”

Another student, Abdullah Shaat, said, “The Thailand trip made me appreciate what I have and look at my life positively. We Aggies are fortunate to have the education and access to the resources we need.”

Accompanying the students as a fellow volunteer and participant was instructional assistant professor in the Liberal Arts Program Dr. Amy Hodges. Her perspective as a faculty member was unique.

“I learned a lot from the students and [from] the hard work we did together,” Hodges said. “As a participant on the trip, I enjoyed the chance to give back to others and to make a difference in people’s lives. I was especially impressed by how impactful this was for all of our students. I think it’s one of the most high-impact learning experiences we provide at Texas A&M at Qatar.”

After about eight hours of service per day, participants took part in mandatory reflection sessions each evening, which allowed them to process their feelings and what they learned. The students were also required to write in a daily journal documenting their experiences. The participants will continue to meet, raise money and work on projects throughout the 2018-2019 academic school year to emphasize that service is not just a brief commitment.