Clemson University

Clemson students to spend holidays building home in Dominican Republic

Published: December 8, 2010

CLEMSON — “Home for the holidays” will have a new meaning for some Clemson University students and Dominican Republic residents this year.

Sixteen fraternity and sorority members will spend part of their holiday break on a service trip, building a home in a remote village in the Dominican Republic. The students and two student affairs staffers will be there Dec. 11-18.

Fraternity and sorority life associate director Eli Ker said he has always wanted to plan an “alternative break” trip for Clemson’s fraternity and sorority community.

“One of the basic tenets of all fraternity and sorority chapters is hands-on service, and this trip is a great opportunity to do that,” Ker said. “This will give students a chance to make connections with each other and to understand the importance of giving back.”

For Jennifer Findle of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, this will be her third service trip to the Dominican Republic. Her previous experiences were part of the reason the group selected the country as its destination.

“I really fell in love with the culture and the people there,” Findle said. “The people are so glad you’re there and so thankful. They’re so willing to help one another, which is amazing.”

Findle, an elementary education major from Pittsburgh, Pa., said she hopes her fellow students will have the same life-changing experience she has had during her service trips.

“I want them to know that one person really can change lives and make a difference,” she said. “They’ll leave knowing they gave a family a home, and that’s amazing. The feeling is almost addictive. You want to go out and do more good things because you realize how much of a change you can make in the world.”

Ker said the students have worked for months to raise money to offset the cost of the trip. Through a letter-writing campaign and the support of local businesses, they raised more than $10,000. Clemson’s student government also chipped in to help pay for travel costs.

“It’s been amazing to see how supportive people have been,” Ker said.