NTC International students make a difference

October 28, 2013

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Making a Difference one yard at a time” — A group of Northcentral Technical College, NTC, international students cleared the leaves off a large lot at the intersection of North 32nd Avenue and Madonna Drive Saturday morning.

The students, hailing from several Central American and Caribbean nations, joked and laughed with each other as they raked and bagged the leaves from the yard of 56-year-old Margaret Duranceau. Health problems would have made the job near impossible for Duranceau, and she appreciated their efforts.

“They are one fantastic crew,” Duranceau said. “They should keep them here.”

The students were among the estimated 400-plus volunteers who turned up to rake the leaves of about 250 area residents for the Make a Difference Day efforts coordinated by the United Way of Marathon County.

“We had fabulous volunteer turnout,” said Shelly Kaiser, the director of the agency’s Volunteer Connection. “The weather cooperated. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. We had outstanding turnout.”

Kaiser said she didn’t know why so many people signed up to help their neighbors this year, but “our target is 300 volunteers,” she said.

One of the motivating factors for the NTC students is that they are required to volunteer in the community as part of the program that brought them to study in the United States, Scholarships for Education and Economic Development, or SEED. The program is designed to help low-income students from high-need countries to learn business, design projects and to go back to their countries to make a difference there.

Make a Difference Day offers a great opportunity for SEED students to work those required volunteer hours, but participation means more than that, said student Mariela Valdez, 19, of the Dominican Republic.

This was her second year of participating in the day, and she found last year that helping people, instead of working for programs, is gratifying.

“Doing it for people who need it, it’s like, wow, that’s awesome,” Valdez said. “We enjoy doing it. … We have fun.”


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