Penn College Backpacks Donated to Children in Belize

Students and teachers in San Pedro, Belize, recently sent their thanks to Pennsylvania College of Technology and one of its math professors for donated backpacks and other school supplies used during a summer literacy camp at the San Pedro Library.

The donations were coordinated by Curt Vander Vere, assistant professor of mathematics, who distributed the items via a family friend who is working on a master’s degree and teaching at a school in Belize. The supplies included Penn College Admissions backpacks and three boxes of school supplies.

Vander Vere, who guides a study abroad trip to Mexico or Guatemala for Penn College students enrolled in MTH 156 (Mathematics in Non-European Cultures), regularly collects and distributes supplies to children during his professional and personal travels.

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“Before leaving for each of my trips, my wife and I always purchase school supplies for the local children,” Vander Vere said. “I’ve also received backpacks from Penn College and given them to children in the highlands of Southern Mexico and the Petén region of Guatemala.”

He says many countries around the world need school supplies because of lack of funds or, often, because supplies are not easily available. “For some of these communities, the nearest store where school supplies are available can be hours away by either foot or by boat,” he added.

Vander Vere will next turn his attention to gathering baseball equipment for Little League players in Cuba. He anticipates assistance from some Penn College fraternities.

“While in Cuba this past July, my traveling group and I tried to donate money for the players, but the coach turned us down because there was no equipment to purchase. Therefore, I would like to collect bats, balls and gloves and send them to Cuba with a friend of mine who is leading an educational trip there in January,” he said.

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For the next MTH 156 trip, scheduled for December 2017 to the Petén region of Guatemala, Vander Vere will again gather and distribute school supplies to local children.

“It should be noted, however, that the intent of that trip is for our students’ education. Transporting and donating school supplies is just something I do on the side,” Vander Vere said. “I do hope it gives our students an insight into what it means to be a good, global citizen and a good neighbor to those that are less fortunate than us.”

Vander Vere leads the math study abroad trip with D. Robert Cooley, assistant professor of anthropology/environmental science.

For more on mathematics courses offered at Penn College, visit the School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications.

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