By Sydney Freyer, Guest Writer
This spring break, Mark Mulder, an assistant professor of business, and 10 Pacific Lutheran University students will travel to Nicaragua to install a well with Living Water International (LWI).
LWI is a global nonprofit organization operating in 26 countries that helps provide communities with safe drinking water to improve overall health.
The global water crisis is an issue Mulder said he was passionate about.
“The global water crisis offers us an opportunity to become active,” Mulder said. “From a business standpoint, businesses and nonprofits can have an active role in impacting the world in a positive way.”
The idea itself took shape in Mulder’s fall 2012 marketing research course.
“We took on the role as consultants for LWI and just answered the sort of questions like, ‘how are they able to get connected with college aged students?’” senior Alex Quiner, a trip participant, said of the class.
Since he introduced the project, two of Mulder’s introduction to marketing classes have used their class-based skills to raise more than $1,500 for the water project by selling merchandise including wristbands and coupon books.
The Pacific Lutheran University project is certainly more than just a team of students.
“It takes a village to bring clean water to a village,” Mulder said. “It’s really neat to see that for us, our ‘village’ is PLU, and all of our community partners supporting this project.”
First-years Branden Stallard and Thomas Horn looked to Trinity Lutheran Church in their efforts to get the community involved.
“We told the people about our trip and what we were hoping to accomplish,” Stallard said. “And they were really giving and really wanted to help. The whole community at Trinity really opened up their doors to our trip.”
Others traveled to Brookdale Elementary for a school assembly about the project.
“They [the elementary students] were excited about the opportunity to bring clean water to people in need,” Quiner said.
During their time at Brookdale, the PLU participants will reach every classroom, teaching elementary students a wide range of topics such as hygiene, sustainability and community and peace building.
Parkland Light and Water Company jumped on board as well. More than 9,000 Parkland area residents received bill stuffers about the project and the PLU and Parkland Light and Water partnership.
Keithley Middle School and Rainier View Christian Church have also helped the group.
Mulder said that the individual students going on the trip have a variety of motivations to share with those in Nicaragua.
“I’m going on this trip because I have been blessed by a lot of generous people in my life and I want to be able to share that generosity and Christ’s love with people in Nicaragua,” junior Catherine Miolla said.
Senior Rachel Espasandin said her motivation comes from academic studies and a desire to build communities. “A big part of my focus for going on this trip is peace building and a big part of that is conflict analysis and studies,” Espasandin said.
There are a lot of internal campus supporters as well, such as Dining and Culinary Services, HERmonic, Garfield Book Company, Campus Ministry and a team from Business 190s BizVenture competition, who have all given their time and energy to make this project happen.
LWI is already working with the community’s leadership team in Nicaragua to prepare for the installation project and ensure the sustainability of the project.
This project is an example of how university reach can extend to remote parts of the world and can support global communities in a variety of ways. PLU has a history of this outreach and service, and this group will blend their service to others with their own learning about nonprofits and social businesses.
The team heads out on March 22.