NWU Group Headed to Arizona for Service Project With Refugees

Eighteen Nebraska Wesleyan University students who are interested in refugee and immigration issues will spend part of their winter break in Arizona for a service project.

Members of the student organization Global Service Learning will travel to Tucson, Arizona, on January 4 where they will work with the Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network.

“I can’t pretend to know much about refugees living in Arizona, but I am thrilled to have the chance to learn more,” said NWU first-year student Kelsey Arends.

Global Service Learning advisor Kelli Wood said the group’s interest in refugees and immigration — particularly in a state where a controversial immigration ban has been imposed — made for an easy decision on where the group would do its annual winter service work. The group typically participates in a national service project during winter break and travels internationally each summer for another service project. Last winter, the group worked on a South Dakota Indian reservation; the previous winter break was spent distributing medical supplies to a Denver, Colorado, Doc To Docks Program.

In Arizona, the group will volunteer with the Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network, an organization that empowers refugees by creating opportunities to use their knowledge and skills to help their families better integrate with the larger Tucson community. Each year network volunteers harvest approximately 75,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables from the backyards of local farms that donate their extra goods. The foods are then redistributed to refugee families.

Global Service Learning members will harvest fruits and vegetables at a Tucson farm. They will also participate in a Tucson Methodist church’s “Operation Hospitality” program, which provides food and shelter to the homeless. Students will prepare and serve meals made from Iskashitaa-harvested fruits and vegetables.

Following their daily service work, students will gather for evening discussions and reflection of their experience. They will return on January 10.

“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to participate in what is sure to be an eye-opening experience,” said Arends.

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