Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

International Students Take Part in Habitat Challenge

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

International Students Take Part in Habitat Challenge

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher F. Aguilar, Shorelines staff writer

A group of international students from Murray State University in Kentucky are giving the Beaches chapter of Habitat for Humanity a welcomed first.

They are the first group of international students to participate in building a Habitat home during the organization's Collegiate Challenge.

"This makes us very proud," said Beaches Habitat Associate Director Shannon Nazworth. "That they picked our community makes us very appreciative."

Collegiate Challenge is a seven-week program sponsored by Habitat for Humanity in which college students from across the United States help build Habitat homes during their spring break vacations.

At Beaches Habitat for Humanity, Collegiate Challenge began on Feb. 17 with a group of Canadian students from the University of Guelph in Ontario and concludes on April 15. The students are building homes at Beaches Habitat's new subdivision called Cabo Blanco in Mayport. Nine duplexes housing 18 families will be built there throughout the year.

A group of retired people called the RV Care-A-Vanners and a group of sailors from Mayport Naval Station have also joined the college students in building the Habitat homes.

Ralph Marcello, executive director of the non-profit organization, said he hopes to have the outside construction of 12 homes done by the end of the Collegiate Challenge program.

The Murray State group has six American students and 11 students from countries such as Togo in West Africa, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and Ecuador.

Jeff Jenkins, a teaching assistant in the English as a Second Language program at the university, said that after the events of Sept. 11, a lot of the students felt sympathetic to the victims of the attacks.

"I thought it would be good if we could do something good for spring break," he said. "I talked to them about building a home for Habitat for Humanity."

Jenkins said the Beaches chapter of Habitat for Humanity was their first choice.

"We were looking for something close to the beach," Jenkins said. "We were happy about being accepted."

The group sold raffle tickets and did car washes to raise the $4,300 needed for their week-long trip. …

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