WWU Engineers Without Borders to host annual gala


Members of the Walla Walla University Engineers Without Borders chapter designed and oversaw the construction of five classrooms at an elementary school in Luis Garcia, Honduras.

This concluded Phase One of its Hope for Honduras project, according to Becky St. Clair, coordinator of WWU News & Information. EWB members visited the schools grounds during spring break to conduct an assessment of Phase Two of the project.

Three faculty members and three students looked at the drainage issues on the campus. Sewage runoff from the surrounding community flows through the school grounds, and the school's own latrine system isn't adequate for the 300-500 students who will be using it, Becky said via email.

WWU is determining drainage needs, latrine usage and what type of sewage system will be best.

Curt Nelson, professor of engineering and faculty sponsor of EWB-WW, told her that they planned to meet with locals to what sort of latrine they want and what system they will know how to use, whereby the team can help them solve the problem altogether.

Nelson also hopes to be able to continue researching the effect of their project on the local community.

Classrooms built in 2010 allowed 250 additional students to attend school, and Curts interested in seeing if more young women are able to stay in school because of the added space. "In that area, young women frequently drop out of school and start families," he said. "I want to talk to the local government and find out the positive and negative effects of what we're helping them do."

EWB strives to involved the community of Luis Garcia, which built the additional classrooms. EWB-WWU raised funds for supplies and drew up plans for the structures.

A dedication ceremony for the Luis Garcia elementary school and its new classrooms took place March 22 and Curt spoke at the event.

The group also partners with a Loma Linda (Calif.) University researcher to learn more about his project, Bottles to Buildings. The researcher has found that the amount of trash on the beaches in Honduras is keeping sea turtles from coming on shore to lay eggs. In an effort to clean up the country's coastline, Bottles to Buildings has created a design for homes built by filling discarded plastic bottles with sand and stacking them to form walls.

"The building supplies are virtually free," says Nelson. "All you have to pay for is a small amount of cement to hold the bottles together. For a few hundred dollars, people can move from a tin shack to an actual house."

The EWB-WWU group will conduct structural analyses on the bottle buildings to determine whether they can withstand the beatings they will take during the hurricanes and earthquakes that happen in Honduras. "The local government is welcoming us back with open arms. And we're loving this project," he said.

The annual EWB-WWU fundraiser gala will be 6 p.m. April 24 in the Reid Campus Center Young Ballroom at Whitman College in Walla Walla. In addition to dinner, guests will enjoy the popular Dessert Dash event, silent and live auctions, and reports from EWB-WWU.

Earlybird tickets are $35 per person or $250 per eight-person table, and are available through April 11. Regular tickets may be purchased through April 18, and are $40 per person of $280 per 8-person table. For more information, or to reserve a place at the gala, visit ewb-wwu.org and click on "Gala."

Walla Walla Noon Rotary Club is seeking two outstanding young adults ages 18-25 who would like to participate in a leadership camp this summer. The intensive training program for current and potential youth leaders will be July 2-9 in in Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada. The agenda includes elements of community and global leadership, goal setting, styles of leadership group dynamics and ethics. Eligibility is open to those who are married or single who hold a position of leadership or have displayed leadership potential. The local application deadline is Friday, April 15. For details contact Julie Reese, Rotary chairwoman, at 509-540-6720, or jreese@wwcommunitycouncil.org.

In addition members of Noon Rotary planted 112 new trees around the city in mid-March, said member Chris Coates.

Thirty-six Rotarians and family members took part in the event which augmented the more than 5,000 trees the club has planted in the last 18 years, tree planting committee chair Ned Schafer said.

The club's urban forestation project plants the trees each spring and fall to keep Walla Walla a beautiful place in which to live. Walla Walla city Parks and Recreation Department provides ongoing support and logistical help, Chris added.

Cordiner Hall on the Whitman College campus swelled to nearly bursting with local students who attended the Walla Walla Kids Read 2011 event, according to a release.

Renowned children's authors Jon Scieszka and David Shannon were the main attractions.

Jon said, "There is a community excitement here where everyone is connected. Walla Walla is such a great place to discover."

Event founder and local children's author Patrick Carman added that "What excited me the most was knowing all K-5 students in the Walla Walla valley were going to read the same book, turn the same pages and learn about the same author. We live in a diverse community and to have something in common like a children's book to bring everyone together is powerful."

The Whitman venue "is also important because many of the children in our valley don't have opportunities to visit a college campus. This allows them to see what their lives can be and gives them something to dream about," Patrick said.

Walla Walla Kids Read covered the costs, including busing students to and from the event. For more details about Walla Walla Kids Read see www.wallawallakidsread.com

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.


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