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All issues  >  Spring/Summer 2011  >  Belinda Crowson

Student blogs about life-changing trip to Guatemala

Photo: Belinda Crowson with Guatemalan children

Belinda Crowson (right) with new friends in Guatemala

By Phyllis Shier, College of Liberal Arts

WSU student Belinda Crowson knows what it's like to need someone. She lost both her parents when she was just 14, staying in foster care until her friend's family could obtain a license to take her in at age 16.

"I have been extremely blessed with such a loving support group," she said of her new family.

It's with that same optimistic spirit that Crowson has invested in giving back to her community.

In April she took part in the Hearts in Motion trip to Zacapa, Guatemala, a weeklong medical and service-oriented trip led by alumni Dr. Mark Paxton (B.S. '76, zoology) and H. S. Wright III (B.A. '76, Latin American studies) during WSU's spring break.

On her return, Crowson created a blog of her experiences.

Volunteering from an early age

The Guatemala trip was one in a long line of volunteer experiences.

In 2007, the summer after she graduated from Blaine High School, Crowson volunteered with Royal Family Kids' Camp in Bellingham, Washington, a weeklong overnight camp for children ages 7 to 11 who have been abused, neglected, or, like Crowson, in foster care. She enjoyed the experience and volunteered again the following summer and in 2010.

A Chinese and speech and hearing sciences double major, Crowson studied abroad in Harbin, China, during the 2009–2010 academic year, taking part in a language-intensive Mandarin Chinese program.

During the break between fall and spring semester, she interned at Shepherd's Field Orphanage in Tianjin, China, for two weeks.

"(Shepherd's Field) is an orphanage for Chinese children with special needs," she said. "I have always had a heart for kids, so I ended up volunteering as an English teacher while also shadowing the physical therapist and speech therapist."

In her own words

But it was after her trip to Zacapa that she decided it was time to share her experiences and created her blog.

Crowson will graduate from WSU in the spring of 2012 with two undergraduate degrees in Chinese and speech and hearing sciences. But hopefully, she says, not before a return to Zacapa.

Read about her experiences in Zacapa, Guatemala »

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