Traveling abroad is a staple of the collegiate experience. Many students, including SAEs, are very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit another country to enhance their academic profile while experiencing a culture unlike their own. The chapter at San Diego State (California Theta) went abroad for a less conventional reason: philanthropy.
Josh Peterson (Service/Philanthropy Chairman) sought to take California Theta’s community service to the next level—to Rise Above. “We wanted to make a bigger impact on the community, to show what SAE is truly about,” he said. With San Diego being a mere 30 minutes from Tiajuana, it became apparent that helping those less fortunate in one of the world’s most crime- and poverty-ridden cities was going to be the core tenant of the chapter’s next philanthropic endeavor.
The chapter partnered with Homes for Hope, an organization that provides financial resources and labor to support low-income and impoverished communities in developing countries. Over 100 home have been built, enabling families to break the cycle of poverty. Between hosting events, their donation page, and additional funding from Clear Sky Capital, the chapter was able to send ten men to build a home.
For many of them, it was their first time out of the country. It is a stark cultural difference from San Diego to Tiajuana. “Witnessing poverty in person is something I will never forget,” Jake Ducharme (Health-and-Safety Officer) recalls, “it gives a new perspective on life and makes you appreciate what you have.” After meeting with the Valdez family, who would be benefitting from this home, they immediately got to work—building a liveable environment from the ground up is no easy task. The chapter was fed home-cooked meals from the family, who surprisingly also helped with the build.
The projects are typically done after the build is complete. However, they were fortunate enough to have leftover funds and used them to buy groceries and furnish the house. The Valdez family was in shock. After a tearful goodbye, the men headed back to San Diego State, but not without making it a goal to make this trip annual.