Davis UWC Scholars paint CVFF shelter

Andrea Dokovic (center) and Milica Njezic paint the kitchen of Cedar Valley Friends of the Family shelter to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Davis UWC Scholars program. — Oxana Protchenko/TRUMPET

Students in Wartburg’s branch of the Davis United World Colleges Scholars program painted rooms in the Cedar Valley Friends of the Family shelter in Waverly Sept. 29.

The volunteer project was organized to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Davis UWC Scholars program, with 20 members of the Wartburg branch participating.

The group was invited to attend a celebration at Brown University but was unable to pay for the trip, Davis UWC Scholar Connie Luo said. Instead, the group decided to have their own celebration – a one day service project at CVFF.

“It absolutely brought us together as Davis UWC Scholars at Wartburg, because this was the first group initiative by the scholars. That brings a big smile to my face,” program member Neo Maraisane said.

Casey Herkelman, crisis services director at CVFF, a shelter for those affected by homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault, said the students painted the living room, kitchen and dining area, toy room, five bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“We had a very limited time for the job to be done, and the students were able to do that for us. We’re very grateful that they were willing to give up their Saturday afternoon,” Herkelman said.

Maraisane drafted ideas for events the group could participate in to celebrate the anniversary, and the group was most interested in service. He contacted the Center for Community Engagement and the Volunteer Action Center and was given a list of possible projects with community partners, where he was connected to CVFF.

Maraisane said organizing the project taught him a lot about working with others.

“I learned how to be a true leader. It took a lot of my time and effort but I knew I was doing something good,” he said.

The Davis UWC program promotes international and intercultural understanding through responsibility, respect, compassion and service, Maraisane said.

The program began in 1962 in South Wales. Today, it has 13 two-year campuses on five continents with students from 180 countries, Maraisane said. Students graduate from the program and become Davis UWC Scholars. Wartburg has been one of 94 U.S. partner colleges since 2007.

Herkelman said the shelter is lucky to have a strong connection to Wartburg; students regularly volunteer there as part of residential service projects.

“There have been many times when student volunteers have pulled through for us in a time of need,” she said.

Maraisane said Wartburg’s Davis UWC Scholars hope to have more service projects throughout the year.

Luo said as a first-year, the event helped her get to know the other Davis UWC Scholars.

“We had fun. I’m just meeting these people for the first time, and there’s this connection already.”

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