By EMILY MONTGOMERY
This year’s Students Helping Honduras Summit, held at UMW, had more than five times the number of people compared to last year.
The purpose of the event is to share ideas, plans, and successes of the club’s many chapters.
“Summit is a time where all SHH can get together and remind each of us why we’re empowered to do what we’re doing,” Emerson Ayestas, a native Honduran and the UMW chapter’s president, said.
The day-long event, which was held on Sept. 5, brought in over 150 students from schools such as University of Virginia, James Madison University, University of Maryland and Western Illinois University, according to Ayestas.
It included a number of presentations by SHH members on recent achievements and upcoming plans. There was a session with seven 10-minute presentations on how to best perform certain activities necessary for the club, such as how to run a successful meeting and how to prepare for a service trip.
Ayestas spoke on how to organize a fundraising event. He discussed the UMW chapter’s success last year with their volleyball tournament, which, along with bake sales, car washes and more, raised over $25,000. This money will be used to build a library in Villa Soleada, the town SHH is currently working to help in Honduras, according to Ayestas.
Another treat, Ayestas said, was having Shin Fujiyama, co-founder and president of SHH, talk at the event. Fujiyama started the first chapter of SHH at UMW, which made it especially significant to have the event in Fredericksburg.
Fujiyama said that a highlight of the day was using Skype to talk with his sister Cosmo Fujiyama, the co-founder and president of the organization, and Alex Escobar, the chief project manager, who are currently in Honduras.
It allowed them not only to communicate with Cosmo and Escobar, but also some of the citizens of Villa Soleada whom many SHH members attending the summit had met during trips to Honduras.
“The Summit was a huge success, thanks to all of the hard work that the UMW chapter put into it,” Shin said. “I couldn’t have been prouder to be an alumnus from UMW.”
Freshman Carley McCready, who attended the summit, agreed.
“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “From hearing Shin’s 10-villages-by-2020 plan to learning the most efficient ways to fundraise, the summit was awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better-spent Saturday.”
McCready went to Honduras last year and is planning on going at least once more this year.
After the official event was over, a majority of the group headed to Vinny’s Italian Restaurant for dinner. Vinny’s agreed to give some of their profits from the night to SHH, which helped the club break even.