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In the latest College Connection, we take you to Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland, where I.T. students are traveling to Guatemala to put their skills to work.
The group was recently given the task of fixing outdated, even broken computers at a small school in the poorest district of Guatemala.
"Interesting to overcome the language barriers. We have to figure out translators, and luckily the students helped us a lot," said Dan Schmidt, 20, a student in the I.T program.
Schmidt and fellow student Jacob Koval, 22, said the experience pushed their communication skills to the max -- something that'll be more than useful for their first job, when they're diagnosing problems on a company's computer network, having to explain the problem to upper management.
"When you're out in the field when it's raining, there's a tin roof. You can't hear anything. It's a little bit different," Koval said, when referring to his work in Guatemala.
The opportunity to not only fix computers but also teach students and staff computer and software skills, is part of WITC's first international service learning project -- helping develop students into more than classroom learners.
"I think it was excellent to get exposure to the culture to do some really interesting trouble shooting ... to have a real computer problem to solve," said Paul Gordon, a WITC instructor.
In the end, the students were able to fix 14 of the 15 computers for a job well done.
"This was a great chance for them to apply all the skills they learned over the last two years to an actual environment," Gordon said.
"Getting to work in an entirely different area with unique challenges was a lot of fun," Koval said.