Briar Cliff students trade-in modern comforts to help others - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Briar Cliff students trade-in modern comforts to help others

Briar Cliff students helped build this home in Guatemala in three days during their winter break service trip. Briar Cliff students helped build this home in Guatemala in three days during their winter break service trip.

These Briar Cliff University students are reflecting on their winter trips. They say those trips are about so much more than the work, they're about the people.

"It was very interesting to see how fast relationships were built, not only among the students that went but also with the people that we met," said Rosita Marquez, a junior at Briar Cliff.

Marquez's group was in Honduras, where they worked to spruce up schools and homes.

"We had to haul adobe bricks up a hill," said Marquez. "And it was physically challenging, once we got it done and realized it would make a difference."

"Sometimes I felt that we were slowing them down because they have a hard work ethic and sometimes we're not used to it," said Ethan Neff, a junior.

While the Honduras group was busy dry-walling and landscaping, another BCU group was helping a needy family build a new home in Guatemala.

"Hammering wood, putting down sheet rock, mixing cement for the cement floor," said Riley Colwell, a junior.

"They had a rusty tin roof that had holes in it, and I know that all their items would get wet, when it rained," said Natali Ramirez, a senior.

After some training, the group was able to build a new home in three days.

"Once we completed the house, it was all done and they were dancing in the house and it was pretty incredible," said Colwell.

During much of their trip, they focused on children at a local orphanage.

"Within five minutes, the kids were jumping on us, we were pushing them on swings, they wouldn't let us put them down," said Colwell.

Natali Ramirez was one of several bilingual students who made the trip. She quickly learned that being able to speak their language made a big difference in her group's daily interactions.

"I don't think that my Spanish is that great, but once I realized that I needed to give this woman words of advice, it's like I knew every word in the book," said Ramirez.

Students say sharing their stories and living alongside their new friends was an incredibly inspiring time for them. Some, like Ramirez, didn't even want to leave.

"I didn't want to come back to America, I didn't want to come back to the material world. I didn't want to come back to my house, full of nice fancy things," said Ramirez.

What they left behind was so much more.

"What we built to some people wasn't a real house. What we built to other people looks like a shed, but to those people, that was a home," said Ramirez.

This wasn't the first time Briar Cliff has made the trek to Central America. This was the eighth year for their winter program, and the fourth time they've visited Honduras and Guatemala.

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