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Lynch connected with Assistant Dean Pat
Demaras, who runs MCC's International
& Multicultural Office. Together they
reached out to students they thought
might be interested. "Pat works with our
international students and runs the
International Fellowship Program," Lynch
explained. "She was so helpful with the
student interviews, travel arrangements
and plane reservations."
By July, Blake and McGuire were selected
to make the trip. They attended four
orientation sessions through HHGL.
Meanwhile, Lynch worked with
Middlesex faculty and staff to pull
together an academic component to
support the learning part of this
international service experience.
"Prior to their trip, our students studied
Cambodian culture and connected
directly with MCC's local Cambodian
population," Lynch said. "This academic
component, combined with service in
Phnom Penh, greatly broadened their
global perspective and enhanced their
sense of civic responsibility."
According to Blake, the trip was
everything he hoped it would be and
more. He kept a blog while on the
recounting his adventures, including
tracking down a restaurant that served
fried tarantula, a Cambodian delicacy.
In addition to eating a "crunchy" cooked
spider, Blake spent most of his time
working shoulder to shoulder with
Daimler Corp. employees from South
Africa, South Korea, China, Singapore
and Australia. Together, his team of six
built a house in five days, part of an
overall Habitat International project to
build more than 350 row houses for
families living at the dump.
"We were helping a family by giving them
a safe and secure place to live," said
Blake, 27, who plans to graduate in May,
then transfer and pursue a bachelor's
degree in economics. "They own their
house now, and through Habitat for
Humanity will be helped to start a
business to give their lives some focus
other than rummaging through trash to
find food and things to sell."
Traveling half-way around the world and
constructing a house was challenging, said
Blake, but he's no stranger to
volunteering. "I love traveling and I love
service," he said. Over the years, through
a church organization in the local area, he
has taken hundreds of teenagers on
service trips throughout the U.S.
"After learning so much about
Cambodia's history, I was even more
excited to go and be a small part of the
rebuilding of their country," said Blake.
"Cambodia has had some pretty horrible
recent history. Yet, the hope and drive of
the local people was inspiring."
McGuire also found the Habitat trip very
rewarding. "Khmer Harvest Build was a
great example of MCC's commitment to
social responsibility and engagement
opportunities," she said. "The trip has
changed me in both subtle and profound
ways, and will forever shape the way I
view things."
Lynch is in the process of adding Service-
Learning components to other MCC
International Fellowships. "In June, we
are sending 10 students to Ireland, who
will complete a day of service in a low-
income neighborhood in Belfast," she
said. And, there may be more Service-
Learning trips to other countries in the
"I'll keep my eyes open for other
international opportunities, hopefully
with Habitat for the fall of 2013. Next
time, I hope to recruit a wide variety of
students," said Lynch. "I also want to
integrate the trip into a one-credit
Service-Learning course."
For more information about Service-
Learning at Middlesex Community
College, contact Cynthia Lynch at
Kathy Register
Interdisciplinary Weekend to Feature
`Reflections on Khmer Harvest Build'
MCC student Jared Blake, who recently traveled to Cambodia as part of Khmer Harvest Build, and Dana Owens,
who led the Habitat for Humanity International trip, will give a presentation about the experience during
Connections Across Asia, MCC's Interdisciplinary Weekend 2012. Blake and Owens joined 300 Habitat volunteers
from around the world to help construct houses for homeless families outside Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.
Enrollment is still open for Connections Across Asia. This two-day, one-credit multidisciplinary course will be offered
Friday & Saturday, April 20 & 21, on the Bedford campus. For more information, call 781-280-3721 or email To register, call 1-800-818-3434.
Hundreds of volunteers from all over the world worked
for five days to build 22 houses for homeless families
living in a municipal dump outside Phnom Penh.
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