After final exams, most students are enjoying their summer breaks away from university. However, 19 Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar students have chosen to spend time volunteering in Nepal and Thailand this summer as part of the university’s global service learning programme.

Partnering with Habitat for Humanity Nepal, a non-profit organisation that helps build and renovate houses for those in need, Carnegie Mellon Qatar students spent 10 days building a house in Central Nepal for a struggling family. Habitat for Humanity Nepal worked in partnership with the women-led cooperative partner Amardeep Mahila Utthan Bachat Tatha Rin Sahakari Sanstha in Bharatpur.

Homelessness is one of the major problems in Nepal with over 3 million people still in need of housing assistance. Habitat for Humanity International has contributed to tackling this issue by providing basic housing for families living in extreme poverty. By the end of year 2016, Habitat for Humanity Nepal aims to provide housing for 100,000 Nepalese families.

Habitat for Humanity Nepal country representative, Aruna Paul, said:

The houses of the Nepalese here are made up of mud floor, thatch, tin roofs and stone walls without any ventilation. There isn’t any proper sanitation or clean drinking water facilities. The students from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar worked hard, teaming up with locals, to build a shelter for Mohan Maya Rimal, the single breadwinner in her family, who had been staying at her daughter’s place and was in desperate need of her own house. The contribution that the students made has dramatically improved the quality of life for this family.’

‘It is great to see Carnegie Mellon promoting community service in an international setting. These activities allow students to not only help others, but also gives them the chance to experience a different culture and get a glimpse of how others live. Their work has also helped strengthen relations between Nepal and Qatar.’

The students were accompanied by Amy Walker, director of career development, and Kevin D’Arco, student development coordinator from the office of student activities and first year programmes.

A sophomore at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, Mounir Sheikh, was one of the volunteers. She said:

Participating in my first service learning trip exceeded my expectations. We had an amazing group of student leaders and acquired an entirely new skillset that I would have never been able to learn elsewhere. Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s service learning trips are well-respected and I can only hope to one day be chosen to lead my own team.’

A second group of Carnegie Mellon Qatar students traveled to Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand, where they spent two weeks working in rice fields, building foundations and exploring the Thai culture. The student-led trip required students to pitch their ideas to a judging panel, with the team lead chosen based on their ideas and leadership skills. The winning student this year was Amalan Roshan, a junior in business administration.

Service learning is at the core of the university’s mission towards the holistic development of students who are prepared to make a difference in their communities. Students are encouraged to incorporate community service into their educational experience by joining student clubs, volunteering for service trips and participating in sustained commitment programmes. Student service learning trips take place throughout the year.

For more information on upcoming opportunities, visit Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s website.