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Community - May 21, 2019

Waupaca Foundry helps University of Wisconsin-Whitewater ceramics students develop real world skillset in Guatemala

Teresa Lind
 

Eight University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students recently spent their spring break in Santiago, Guatemala, building a kiln and ceramic water filters to help bring clean water to the area.

Teresa Lind, a lecturer at the University asked Waupaca Foundry for assistance in making their ambitious goals a reality:

UW-Whitewater Students in Guatemala

When I went to Guatemala for the first time in November of 2017, I recognized the value that a trip like this would have for our Wisconsin foundry and ceramics students. There was clearly a need for a kiln to fire the ceramic water filters that I was being taught to make there and the skillset that I was using in the workshop was exactly the skillset in which our students at UW-Whitewater were proficient.

I learned so much from the people and the experience and thought about what a mutually beneficial experience it would be for all involved to be able to travel to Santiago, Guatemala for a service learning trip in the future.

My colleague, Teri Frame, and I started planning and fundraising as soon as we got eight students committed and organized for a trip in 2019.

What made me think to ask for Waupaca Foundry's help in the first place is that they've been supportive of our art foundry program for the entire seven years that I've been teaching sculpture at UW-Whitewater and their key participation in the community pour we did for the park project in the Waupaca area a few years ago.

While we were in Santiago, Guatemala:

  • We built an adobe kiln that will now fire some of the ceramic water filters made at Pueblo a Pueblo, the non-profit with whom we worked. This was our main goal of the trip. Clean water is scarce there and we wanted to help make access to it easier.
  • We learned how the people in Santiago were making the water filters (clay and coffee grounds) and how they work.
  • We learned about the culture in Santiago and how our presence there affects both us and them.
  • We learned about Guatemalan economics and how we affect each other.
  • We learned how a local ceramics facility operates.
  • We learned about traditional weaving techniques and how skilled the weavers are which was very inspiring to us as makers.
Teresa Lind
  • We learned that we have a lot to learn from developing countries and how they survive and thrive.

I know that there are so many more things that I could list here, but what Waupaca Foundry helped to make happen was beyond what we could ever teach in the classroom. We learned so much about happiness and gratefulness. It was humbling but it also showed us how our skills in the Advanced Sculpture and Advanced Ceramics classes, foundry and ceramics, could be life-changing — both to others in service but also to us in individual growth and how we can partner with friends in other parts of the world to make positive change.

Waupaca Foundry sponsors initiatives in communities where it has operations and throughout the country, and we are happy to see our contributions have an impact on the world.

 

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