AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Travis Bugg went to Bolivia to serve the people of Quesimpuco, but he can't help but feel like they helped him just as much.
Bugg, a civil engineering major at Auburn University, was one of a handful of Auburn engineering students to travel to Quesimpuco in August to help devise irrigation solutions for the arid community in the Bolivian mountains.
"Yes, my fellow engineering students and I helped them out in one way or another, but they really helped me out in showing me a lot about life and what is really important," said Bugg, a 23-year-old from Murfreesboro, Tenn. "So for me, that's the most gratifying aspect of the trip."
Because of the scarcity of water in Quesimpuco, the students worked on a gravity-fed irrigation system and a hydroponics demonstration unit to help improve the community's agricultural resources with the water available at the time.
Steve Duke, the students' team leader and a professor of chemical engineering at Auburn University, said the work in Bolivia combines service learning with international experience for those who choose to be part of the engineering student organization. He said the organization was started about four years ago and has made three trips to Quesimpuco so far.
Starting the partnership in Bolivia was made easier by the connections Auburn University and Auburn United Methodist Church have made through Servants in Faith and Technology, which has done similar service work in Quesimpuco, Duke said.