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Posted On: 15 June 2009 01:25 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

CMU-Q students use summer break for community service in Thai village

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Fifteen students of Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar (CMU-Q) did not spend their summer break to relax, but used it for a rewarding social work outside of the country in a remote village in Thailand, where they helped build a community kitchen and a dining area for the use of all community members. The students were selected from a competitive pool of applicants to participate in the annual service abroad — an opportunity offered by the Division of Student Affairs. The students worked in the village in the Pang Mapa district of Northern Thailand, about four hours travel from Chiang Mai city. In the sleepy, isolated village the students built a four-walled kitchen and dining area to be used for cooking and to host events such as funerals and weddings. Before they left, the students organised a fund-raising drive and generated $2,000, which was good enough to buy carpentry tools and construction materials for the project. After working on every detail with the help of the residents from the planning to the construction, the students manually mixed cement and moved hundreds of cinderblocks to the construction site. They also filtered sand and nailed together bamboo to make walls and laid tiles for the flooring. “I have never expected life in Thailand to be so simple and relaxed; our trip was the best 10 days of my life. I will never forget the people there, the group I went with, the adventure and the heavy labour that we did,” said Mohammed Fahad Kamal, a Qatari business administration major student. “Helping the community was an extremely rewarding experience for me. If I were to pick a country rather than Qatar to live in, it would absolutely be Thailand.” The students recalled working against time as the team raced to get sacks of sand and other building materials before the heavy rains came. They formed an line, passing the materials as fast as possible to the construction site. On the final day, the women of the village expressed their gratitude to the team from CMU-Q through traditional gestures of decorating the students with fragrant jasmine flower garland. “We could tell how genuine and grateful they were to have had us there helping them build the community kitchen. I am never going to forget my experience in Thailand.” said Rifki Bahri, a business administration major. “Witnessing the impact of this experience on our students and the seeing the gratitude of the villagers was immensely gratifying for me,” said Melissa Deschamps, Director of International Education at CMU-Q. “Community service in an international setting allows students to not only help others, but it gives them the chance to experience a different culture and get a glimpse of how others live.”