Blackhawk Tech administrator has world-wide connections

January 18, 2013

From beloitdailynews.com: “Local volunteer remains engaged internationally” — Jane Svennevig knew early on in life that she was interested in learning more about other cultures. Possessing a huge heart for humanitarian efforts, she also has always enjoyed working with young people and reaching out to those in need.

Jane has been retired for more than a decade now, but as the vice president of adult continuing education and economic development at Blackhawk Technical College, she also forged long-lasting connections to the Stateline Area community.

Not one to remain idle in retirement, Jane has continued to use her collective talents, interests and connections to help others with her many volunteer endeavors.

Having traveled abroad many times, and being married to Egil Svennevig, who was once a foreign exchange student from Norway, Jane is well acquainted with how it feels to be far away from home. As such, they have been host parents to international students in Beloit since 1970. They have hosted students from China, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Norway, Iran, Hungry, Afghanistan, Japan, Ecuador, Czech Republic, to name a few.

As a result, “We have met the brightest, most beautiful kids you would ever want to meet and it has been a fabulous experience,” Jane said.

Lasting friendships over decades also have emerged with the former students as well as visits with them in their respective countries.

Jane’s interest in international affairs also has taken her down other volunteer avenues.

One is connected to West Africa. She serves on Paul’s Computer Institute Board of Trustees and has been the secretary for 17 years. She recently helped write a grant for the school in Cameroon, West Africa, begun by retired firefighter Paul Michelson, and she handles correspondence and does administrative consulting.

“Jane has made a real difference on behalf of PCI,” said Gene Van Galder, president of the Friends of Paul’s Computer Institute Board of Trustees.

“She is a visionary who can contribute so much on so many fronts. Her background at Blackhawk Tech fits perfectly with PCI and it enables her to make suggestions and to provide leadership,” he said.

PCI is a school that teaches computer skills such as data processing, accounting and programming to people in Bemenda, Cameroon. The training helps the residents acquire needed skills to find jobs and improve their quality of life.

Jane and her husband also began sending monthly care packages to enlisted men and women four years ago after contacting Operation Shoebox in Florida, she said. The kindness has often been repaid with letters and emails and gestures of appreciation.

“We just want them to know they are not forgotten,” she said.

Jane also is involved with the Rotary Club.

“Jane is always there to support Rotary initiatives locally and internationally. She has been an integral part of (as co-founder and chairperson of) Beloit College Rotaract and many other Rotary/Beloit College initiatives,” said David Luebke, president of the Beloit Rotary Club.

“I have worked and continue working with Jane for all Rotaract/Rotary interactions,” said Zoe Lengjak, president of Rotaract Club at Beloit College.

“Jane was an extremely important part in helping register and start the Rotaract Club with me. When I first contacted the Rotary Club of Beloit I was immediately directed to Jane who went out of her way to both teach and assist me in every way possible. She facilitated the registration of the Beloit College Rotaract Club. Step-by-step, Jane and I completed the process so that now we are an internationally recognized student affiliate Rotary Club. Whenever possible Jane attends our weekly meetings and helps in resolving conflicts, shedding light on issues, adding ideas, answering any and all questions, announcing appropriate community events, etc. Whether on a professional or personal level Jane is a delight to deal with and I very much value her input,” Lengjak said.

She also is a member of the East End Club of Beloit, the oldest women’s literary group and serves as secretary.

At St. Paul Lutheran Church, both Jane and Egil help out with the Wednesday community lunches offered. Jane prepares tasty dishes for the weekly gathering and her husband helps serve the guests. She also facilitates the adult film discussion groups and handles special projects such as art shows at the church.

There are also the special projects of which she has been a part.

Jane developed and facilitated a feedback process to aid Beloit Regional Hospice with its strategic planning in 2011 and she is an active member of the Society for Learning Unlimited, presenting a program on the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska at an SLU session and to several other groups in the area.

“Jane and Egil have made a difference in countless lives by the generous giving of their time and effort,” Van Galder said.

Of volunteering, Jane said the rewards can’t be counted.

“You get so much more than you give. When you reach out to people, they know you are making a connection,” she said.

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