American University students brush up on community projects

15 December 2017

Medical students from the Caribbean volunteer in Preston to say thank you for the support they have received

A group of medical students who were displaced to Preston after Hurricane Irma hit their Caribbean island have been lending their support to volunteer projects across the city.

The American University of the Caribbean (AUC) students wanted to say thank you to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and the city for helping in their hour of need so 100 students spent a week painting, clearing rubbish, sculpting and developing a community greenspace.

At Creativity Works, in Avenham, the students were armed with paintbrushes and rollers to paint partition walls while others were using their artistic skills to design and paint a motivational mural for a wall in the boxing gym.

Canadian Triston Berger, a fourth semester student, was among the volunteers. The 24-year-old, from Halifax in Nova Scotia, said: “We feel really grateful to Preston for the way the University and the people in the city have taken us in when we needed help so this is our way of saying thank you and giving a little back.”

Back on the island of St Maarten, where the AUC is based, students undertake annual volunteering activities, including beach clean ups, HIV testing, dog walking and cleaning at an animal shelter.

Navina DeLight, a first semester student from Florida, said: “Everybody we’ve met in Preston has been so friendly and so kind towards us all so when the opportunity to help came through a lot of us wanted to do our bit as a way of recognising what Preston has done.”

"It’s been fun and it’s been a great way of finding out more about the communities in the city."

Third semester student Gabby Delapena added: “It’s been fun and it’s been a great way of finding out more about the communities in the city.”

Bob Walley, a UCLan lecturer at the Centre for Community Leadership, was among the team who organised the volunteering opportunities. He said: “It’s been great to see so many of the students engage with our volunteering projects and it’s been a unique way of showing them the area where they are living and studying.

“At one of our projects with the Foxton Centre homeless charity we’re building and installing a painted piece of sculpted art, which will be dedicated to the AUC students, so there will be a permanent reminder of when they came to Preston and their time at the University.”

The students also hope to work in the future with Sahara, an organisation that helps women who have suffered from domestic abuse, and visit English Martyrs Catholic Primary School to take part in a question and answer session about their time in the Caribbean and their urgent move to the University.

Fourth semester students Jamie Baden and Triston Berger
Fourth semester students Jamie Baden and Triston Berger