The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

New Service Trip to Panama

Street in the old part of Panama City - J. Faunce
Street in the old part of Panama City – J. Faunce

Juniors will have the chance to collaborate with Villanova University students on church design.

Malvern will now be offering a service trip to Panama for juniors alongside seniors from Villanova University, according to Director of Christian Service Mr. Larry Legner.

Legner says that students on the trip will collaborate with Villanova University students to build one of five churches for different villages in Panama.

Villanova has been associated with bringing water to villages in Panama for over twenty years, according to Legner.

The priest in Panama associated with the previous water projects asked Dr. Dave Dinehart, Chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova and parent of Matt Dinehart ‘16, to build these churches.

After Dr. Dinehart reached out to Malvern’s administration, an agreement was reached that Malvern’s physics classes will design one of the churches. The students at Villanova will produce the other four designs while taking a course specializing on church design.

Science Department Chair Mr. Kevin Quinn states the trip will be open to all juniors, not just the physics students.  However, Mr. Quinn says he would like to see all physics students, not just the ones going on the trip, to at least be part of the experience in some way.

Legner said that the reason this trip wasn’t an option before was that all the details were still being figured out. This project is an additional option to the service trips for which the juniors have already registered, according to Legner. Only one or two students from each service group will have the opportunity to transfer over.

If there is a conflict of numbers, an interview process will decide who goes.

Research for the trip will begin as a formal project conducted in the student participants’ theology classes, according to Legner.

“Students are required to fully research the city where they will be going,” Legner said. “This encompasses describing the poverty and the reason why Malvern should go over there and help.”

According to Legner, this research will act as an instrumental part of the actual service. “The only real briefing the college students at Villanova will get about the area in Panama where the churches will be built is the presentation of the projects done by the Malvern students,” Legner said.

Malvern students will go on the service trip in June, while the Villanova students will go down during their Spring Break as their final project. Since the college students will have already graduated, the two groups of students will not be there at the same time.

Dr. Dinehart visited campus on Thursday, November 13 at community time for a meeting with the staff involved with this project and interested juniors. He started off the meeting by putting into context what a civil engineer is and what they do.

He spoke about the priorities of these engineers, them being provide clean water, protect the environment, design infrastructure, and ultimately ensure safety.

Dinehart also went into detail on his previous experiences with his students at Villanova, the most prominent being a trip to Honduras which began in 2000. He came across homes that had completely different standards of living then we are used to in the United States. He recalled a visit to a home with eight people with a dirt floor, no electricity, and no running water.

With the support of a missionary priest, Father Wally, the Villanova students assisted building a cross, a volunteer center, and an eight building school complex in Honduras.

Father Wally has recently moved his efforts to Panama where he has built dams with Villanova students for a few years.  These dams provide water to families without basic necessities.

Students at Villanova have recently administered a survey gathering data on numerous sites where chapels or churches could be built for the community.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Dinehart laid out the plans for the trip in order. Villanova students will finish surveying space in fall 2014, and begin work on a water project with Fr. Wally in January 2015.  Although five churches will eventually be built, only two will be constructed this year, beginning in March 2015.  The final design presentations by Villanova and Malvern students will take place in May 2015.

Legner noted that Malvern plans to offer this trip from the beginning of the process next year.


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