Gifts Help Students Spend the Summer Making a Difference

 At the University of Arkansas, opportunities abound for students who want to spend their break making a difference.  Just ask Hannah Birch, an Honors College Fellow from Malvern, Arkansas, who participated in a unique service learning program, organized by the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange, in Dangriga, Belize.

“Reflecting on my time in Belize, I can honestly say that this was the most gratifying and beneficial experience I have ever had,” Hannah said.  “One surprising lesson I came quickly to learn was that even a first-year student has important knowledge and skill sets to share with the world, and with programs like the community development project in Dangriga, I had the ability to do just that.”

An accounting and finance double major, Hannah was part of a business-focused team that provided customer service training to Dangriga city employees, helped local entrepreneurs develop business plans and secure microfinance loans, and educated primary and middle school children on basic economic and business concepts.

These international experiences — many of which are made possible thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends — make an incredible difference in the lives of University of Arkansas students like Hannah. 

“It’s amazing to already see and hear about improvements being made and know that our contributions will have a lasting impact on the people of Dangriga,” she said.  “However, service learning is definitely not a one way street; the exchange goes both ways.  I cannot wait to see how the lessons and practices I learned in Belize continue to influence my life and global consciousness.”