Villanova’s Low-cost Robot to Aid Cambodia

Villanova University faculty and students are seeking to live out the university’s mission of to help create a more sustainable world through serving those in need in Cambodia. Cambodia has suffered decades of bombings followed by the rise of the Khmer Rouge which lead to the Cambodian genocide. Eventually Cambodia was able to push the Khmer Rouge out of Cambodia through the use of a significant number of landmines. Cambodia is now contaminated with explosive remnants of war, which has led to the death of 64,121 innocent people as of June 2012. (SITE) As a developing country, Cambodia does not have the access to “expensive military-grade EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) robots” which are designed to provide advanced capabilities when it comes to the disposing of bombs.

Villanova University has collaborated with the Golden West Humanitarian foundation (GWHF) to address the urgent need for a lower-cost EOD robot solution. The main objective of this project is to “design and build a low-cost humanitarian explosive ordnance disposal robot capable of operating in low income countries, like Cambodia.”

Since the project began in 2013, four Villanova engineering faculty and more than 25 Villanova Engineering students have worked on this project. They have completing field trials in Cambodia and the most recent prototype was “determined ready to undergo redesign for production.” The robot has met the necessary goals of being economically viable, simple to repair, a wide range of mobility, and is operator-friendly. Villanova is now seeking donors to help with bringing this life-saving robot to the market.

To view the full article click here.

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Rockhurst University Students put Learning into Action through Trip to Ecuador

Students from Rockhurst University’s occupational and physical therapy programs recently traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador for the 10th time this August. The annual trip began as a University immersion trip to Ecuador and included a tour of Damien House. Damien House “serves as an inpatient home and outpatient clinic for those in the area with Hansen’s disease.” Hansen’s disease is more commonly known as leprosy. Although the disease is not common in most of the world, there are still areas where the disease is prevalent and those who suffer from it are forced to live their lives away from their family and friends. While touring Damien House, first year students were approached by Damien House founder Sister Annie Credidio to return and help during their next visit instead of just a tour.

Each summer the occupational therapy students and the physical therapy students travel to Ecuador to serve as volunteer staff for the Damien House’s on-site clinic. The trip has such success partly because it is an experience unlike anything that one could experience in the US. Students must break through language and cultural barriers in an area that is characterized by poverty. Sarah Berry, who is in the second year of her physical therapy doctoral program, spoke of being placed in this situation. “We are constantly learning new things, and this trip allows us to gain real-life experience with everything that we have learned. We may be put into situations in which we are uncomfortable or situations in which we can’t get past the language barrier, but these situations are the ones that are going to allow us to grow as a person and as physical therapist or occupational therapist.”

The students brought supplies, worked one-on-one with patients to help them cope with their disease, and helped “patients adapt in ways that allow them to perform everyday tasks like tying their shoes and using utensils to eat with greater ease.” By the end of the trip, the group had seen about 100 patients and had a new perspective of what it will be like as a physical therapist or an occupational therapist.

You can read more about Rockhurst’s service trip here.

University of San Diego Uses Interactive Art to Promote Peace & Justice

In a world that is constantly moving and chaotic it is hard for one to simply be still and imagine a peaceful, positive world. The University of San Diego recognized that struggle and wanted to find a way for members of the university to engage with peace in a new way. The Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice had a desire to “celebrate peace and justice and to invite everyone, students and the community, to jump in and interact with the art.” That led to the Kroc School commissioning interactive mural artist, Kelsey Montague, to create a piece that is able to transport the viewer into a new frame of mind.

Patricia Marquez, the dean of the Kroc School of Peace Studies said that “the current state of the world poses a collective challenge and an obligation to intensify our thinking and inspire action to shape a better world. This piece is part of our vision to prepare students. To transform out societies, learning needs to engage all senses and should happen inside and outside of the classroom. The wall is meant to enhance the learning experience. The hope is that the students will graduate and leave inspired to lead effective change making endeavors across a variety of sectors and organization types.”

You can find more of Montague’s interactive pieces on her Instagram @KelseyMontagueArt or search the hashtag that accompanies all her pieces, #whatliftsyou. The full article can be found here. Photo courtesy of Renata Berto.

University of Portland Students Plunge into Service

University of Portland welcomed its first-year and transfer students with an invitation to serve the Portland community. Each year the Moreau Center, which is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching and seeks to examine issues of poverty and injustice, hosts the annual Service Plunge. The event took place prior to the start of the academic year and was open to incoming first-year students and transfer students. The Service Plunge provided an opportunity for students to spend their first days at University of Portland serving the community. It also provided an opportunity for students to meet new people and develop a deeper understanding of how to best serve the needs of the local Portland community.

Volunteers worked on projects at 11 different locations in and around Portland which ranged from volunteering at the Boys & Girls club to clean-up and preparation at several schools and Portland Parks & Recreation playgrounds. The Service Plunge ended just in time for students to attend orientation and become fully immersed in the University of Portland community.

To read more about the Moreau Center and the Service Plunge click here.

Seton Hall University Aids Hurricane Victims

Throughout the last couple weeks the U.S. has been devastated by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. These hurricanes have caused destruction throughout the US and Caribbean leaving thousands of people without homes and causing them to rebuild their lives from the ground up.

Seton Hall University showed their support of those affected by the hurricanes on Wednesday, September 13th. “Go Blue for Hurricane Relief” sought to “leverage the power of the University community by channeling donations to the communities that need them most.” “Go Blue for Hurricane Relief” was a way of standing in solidarity with those struggling with the devastating effects of the hurricanes. The University called on its 100,000 alumni base to give at least $5 to aid hurricane victims. It is also called for alumni, faculty, staff, students, and parents to wear Seton Hall apparel or the color blue in order to show unity and solidarity with the Gulf Coast.

On Seton Hall’s campus there were donation stations located at different areas in order for students to easily aid those in need. They also had a special collection at mass on September 13th with all the money collected going directly to the victims of the hurricanes. The University also encouraged those participating in “Go Blue for Hurricane Relief” to post on social media using the hashtag #SetonHall in order to spread the word.

View the full article here and donate to Catholic Charities USA Disaster Fund online.

Misericordia University Welcomes Students with a Message to Change the World

As the nation begins a new academic year, there are many first-year students eager to begin their time at a university or college. 436 of these first-year students and their families attended the annual Convocation Ceremony at Misericordia University on Thursday, August 24.

During the convocation ceremony the Alumni Association presented Dr. Tariq Adwan with the Young Alumnus Award. The award is presented to an alumni who has graduated in the past decade with “outstanding professional achievements and/or community or civic service.”

Dr. Adwan’s address to the new students of Misericordia spoke of what is necessary in order to be a young person who will make a positive impact in the world. He shared his experience of being the only Muslim student on campus during 9/11 and how he initially feared how his fellow students would react to him. Much to his surprise, the response of his fellow students was quite the opposite of what he initially expected. He and his peers stood in solidarity with the victims and families of the attack. It was at that moment  when he realized “changing the world was possible, but that he needed people to do it with.”

He called on the incoming Class of 2021 to share their story and embrace as many people and cultures as this is necessary when striving to change the world. “It is then that we become less threatened and more welcoming of the stranger. For we, once upon a time, were the strangers.”

The full article can be found here.

Jesuit Network Commits to Dreamers

On Tuesday, September 5 the Trump Administration announced that they are repealing the DACA program-which will affect 800,000 undocumented young people.

Standing with the Dreamers, Fr. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, released a letter from the Jesuits regarding this decision to repeal DACA. He said that “now more than ever, we commit ourselves to living out God’s law, which calls on us to love the stranger, remembering that our ancestors in faith were once strangers in a foreign land.” The letter speaks of the ways that Dreamers have positively affected Jesuit institutions and how these institutions will continue to support comprehensive immigration reform.

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities released a similar statement regarding the Jesuit mission to protect and commit to educating undocumented students.

Jesuit institutions across the nation have come together in solidarity with the Dreamers by hosting rallies and prayer vigils. Presidents of Jesuit universities have issued statements regarding DACA with many calling on Congress to act as soon as possible in order to provide a future for undocumented young persons.

To view the full article, click here.