Building skills by building a better tomorrow

April 10, 2019

Several Engineering students participated in Veritas Mizzou’s service trip to Jamaica. Photos courtesy of Alyson Jones.

Global engineers are the kinds of problem solvers who can work with people of various cultural backgrounds to achieve breakthroughs, and part of Mizzou Engineering’s mission is to train students to be successful on a global scale. More than a dozen Engineering students participated in a trip to Jamaica that helped build those exact skills and more.

Engineering majors joined the roughly 60 Mizzou students who participated in Veritas Mizzou’s Won by One to Jamaica mission trip over spring break. The group worked alongside the local community of Harmons, Jamaica, to aid the less fortunate with home construction and more.

A house in progress, with exposed ceiling beams and mud walls.

Students helped break down and transport supplies needed to either repair existing homes or construct new ones.

Won by One assists Harmons not only through construction, but also by providing jobs, healthcare and supplies. Alyson Jones, a junior Chemical Engineering major, was part of the construction team. She helped break down and transport supplies needed to either repair existing homes or construct new ones.

“We’d go with different locals, and they’d lead us to a worksite,” she explained. “There would be a pile of maul (a soft, crumbly soil used for building), and we’d break that up, fill bags, pass the bags up the hill to someone’s home or construction site and then back down to refill.

“They use the material to fix something on their home or make additions. They can mix concrete and water with it.”

In between the work, the Mizzou team had the chance to visit with and spend one night in the home of a local family. They built relationships, learned about Jamaican culture and had the opportunity to see things from a different point of view.

“You’ve seen pictures and heard people talk about things overseas, but when you’re having conversations with people from another culture and getting to see how they live, it’s eye-opening. It’s really interesting,” Jones said.

The week spent in Harmons was a chance for Mizzou Engineers and members of Veritas to give back to those in need. On top of that, it provided a brief cultural education and helpful lessons that will carry far beyond college.

“I feel like there are so many different problem solving skills you learn and hands-on experiences that take you beyond the classroom,” Jones said.