Heartwarming, "Service Above Self"

Young, old join hands in District 6000's love affair with a village in central Mexico.

It started in late 2001 with a Rotary Foundation Discovery Grant drafted by Ray Muston (Gov. 99-00) with help from Iowa State University officials Jerry Miller (College of Agriculture) and David Hansen (then director of a consortium of Big 12 universities involved in agricultural research and extension).

In February, 2002 the Discovery Grant team went to Xicotepec de Juárez, a city in the state of Puebla, Mexico, to meet Rotarians there and learn more about their projects and the needs in the Xicotepec area. This team, led by Jim Peterson (Iowa City AM), included Rotarians David Hansen (Ames), Nancy Pacha (Iowa City AM), DG 2002-03 Gary Pacha (Iowa City), Keith Hobson (Nevada) and Jane McCaslin (Fishers, IN).

The Discovery Grant team report submitted in the spring of 2002 served as the foundation for choosing projects undertaken by teams made up of Xicotepec Rotarians along with visiting youth and Rotarians.  The wide range of projects that teams have undertaken has helped to transform not only the community of Xicotepec but also the team members themselves. 

Beginning in 2003, D6000 project teams have visited Xicotepec each March to work on Rotary projects there.  There have been from 50 to 80 US project team members each year, more than half of which have been high school and college students.  To date, more than 900 U.S. project team members have participated in March trips to Xicotepec.  Projects have ranged from construction of new school classrooms or playgrounds to screenings for cancer and diabetes to de-worming of pre- and primary school students.  Many educational, health care and community improvement projects have been completed, but there are many more needs in the Xicotepec community.

Beginning in 2007, the University of Iowa and The Xicotepec Project have collaborated to offer an interdisciplinary, international service-learning course, a semester-long class in which students spend Spring Break in Xicotepec executing service projects that are related to their discipline or area of study.  Students of Pharmacy, Dentistry, Engineering, Nursing, Education, Business, Urban and Regional Planning, Sociology, Theatre Arts and other disciplines have participated in the course and have carried out a wide variety of projects.

The joint efforts of Xicotepec Rotarians, D6000 and the University of Iowa have created bonds of friendship that transcend social, economic, religious, racial, age and cultural barriers and which embody Rotary's values and ideals. The intergenerational Xicotepec Project, still going and still growing, has touched the lives of many norteamericanos as well as Xicotepenses as it has involved Rotary and Rotary Foundation groups and programs such as Rotaract, Interact, Youth Exchange, Group Study Exchange and TRF Matching Grants as well as students from Iowa's colleges and universities.

For more information:
Visit the Xicotepec Project website via the link to the left for information and to apply for the trip click the APPLY tab toward the top right of that page.
Login to Facebook and be directed to the Xicotepec Project Facebook page via the link to the left.