Students Make a Difference
While many college students spent their spring breaks relaxing on a beach sipping a cold drink down south, Kent State University freshman Lexi Veri along with 40 other Kent State students spent their spring break in East Liverpool, Ohio.
The students came to Kent State University at East Liverpool to renovate and restore five area playgrounds. Columbiana County was one of five program sites hosting students from each of the university’s eight campuses.
“The whole experience was amazing,” Veri said. “I’ve never met such an amazing group of people. I felt so accomplished, like we really made a difference in the lives of those in the community.”
Students spent the week camped out in sleeping bags on classroom floors and took showers at the East Liverpool YMCA. “It was a lot of fun getting to know the students I was working with,” Veri said. “We spent practically every waking minute together; from the time we woke up until we went to sleep at night. We worked together, ate together and had fun in the evenings together. It is an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Jeff Nolte, dean of Kent State’s East Liverpool and Salem campuses, said he was impressed with the students’ worth ethic and enthusiasm. “It was a pleasure meeting these students,” Nolte said. “Their excitement to improve our region was contagious. The difference they have made in our community is evident, and we are so grateful for all of their hard work.”
Rachael Esterly, alternative spring break program coordinator, was excited by the overall impact the program had on the students.
“It was amazing to watch the students transform into different people throughout the week,” Esterly said. “They overcame fears and became confident in things they were unsure of as the week progressed. The international students learned about our culture, and we learned about theirs. Many of our students even tried to speak Chinese! Being together for six days allowed the students to let down their guard and learn so much.”
The students’ accomplishments were showcased during ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Bank Street, Ohio Avenue, Mulberry, Orchard Grove and Moore Street playgrounds.
Students were able to see their hard work pay off directly following the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, as several area children came to enjoy the newly renovated playgrounds.