Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

College of Liberal Arts News

Alumnus and WU student helped provide homes to Nepal residents

During an October trip to Nepal, Jordan Schweiger '06 helped build a home now shared by six people.During an October trip to Nepal, Jordan Schweiger '06 helped build a home now shared by six people.

Several Salem-area teenagers, including Madison Hall '16 (center) learned the rigors of home construction while visiting Nepal.Several Salem-area teenagers, including Madison Hall '16 (center) learned the rigors of home construction while visiting Nepal.

Madison Hall '16Madison Hall '16

After rescue workers saved the lives of his two young sons, Jordan Schweiger ’06 was committed to repaying the kindness.

Three years later, he found a way by enlisting the help of local high school students to build homes for Nepal residents.

“Two life flights in a day led me to reexamine everything important to me,” says Schweiger, whose sons have since recovered from the hiking accident. “I wanted to pay it forward.”

More than 50 students raised about $22,000 for the cause. Schweiger, owner of Good Well Real Estate in Salem, added another $35,000 in donations from the Salem and Mt. Angel chapters of Habitat for Humanity.

With the money, Schweiger and the students funded the construction of 50-plus homes. Five of those students — and two of their parents — accompanied Schweiger to Nepal in October to build one of the houses.

Madison Hall ’16 was among the student travelers.

“I thought this was a cool opportunity,” says Hall, a graduate of South Salem High School. “The people I met there are so amazing. I’m so glad we got to do something for them because they deserve it.”

In Nepal, Hall and Schweiger built a 500-square-foot house for six people, most of whom worked alongside the volunteers.

“The whole experience made me feel even more privileged,” Schweiger says. “Now my focus has turned to how I can create an even larger project from the seeds of this one. I’m pioneering a one-to-one model in real estate, where buying or selling one home in the U.S.A. builds one home in a third-world nation. ”

Taking to heart Willamette’s motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born,” Hall says her work in Nepal has influenced her for the better. Philanthropy, she added, will always be a part of her life.

“I will probably do another international build this summer, either in Portugal or Zambia,” says Hall, who volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity office in Salem. “It feels good to help make people’s lives easier in some way. ”

If interested in leadership opportunities in Schweiger’s new project, call him at 503-375-6205 or email him at jordan@goodwellre.com

Students investigate career paths through Lilly Project summer grants

This summer Astra Lincoln ’14 learned the hard way that research projects don’t always go according to plan.

Lincoln received a Lilly grant to study WWOOF —Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms— in Canada, but instead found herself deported by border patrol officers who suspected her of attempting to illegally immigrate.

Lincoln wasn’t discouraged by the set back, which she viewed as an opportunity to take her research in a new direction,

“I ended up hitchhiking over 2,800 miles to different spots in the U.S., including a [Community Supported Agriculture] homestead in Vermont and a freegan commune in California,” Lincoln says. “These experiences allowed me to add a greater variety of personal anecdotes to my research than if I had stayed in one place.”

Lincoln was one of three of this year’s Lilly Project Summer Research Grant recipients to present her findings in the Hatfield Library on Oct. 31. The other presenters were Ceara Lewis ’13 and Jill Mayer ’15.

Lilly grants provide $3,000 stipends for students to perform summer research related to the exploration of vocation.

“These grants allow our students to ask questions about the theological, ethical or spiritual underpinnings of the choices that people make for their lives,” says Karen Wood, the university chaplain. “As our students gain insight into other people's choices, the importance of their own opportunities and decisions becomes more evident.”

With funding from the Lilly Project, Lincoln studied how to use WWOOF and other work-exchange programs to live and travel long-term without an income.

Lewis investigated Aleut traditional fishing in Naknek, Alaska through interviews with three generations of her family and friends. And Mayer explored the lifestyle and community surrounding sean-nós singing in Cill Chiaráin, Ireland.

As a music major with a passion for singing, Mayer plans to incorporate her new understanding of the sean-nós culture and music into her own life.

“When I perform now, I try to tell a story and make the performance about the song instead of about me,” Mayer says. “If the Lilly Project hadn't funded my curiosity, I wouldn't have been able to complete my project at all.”

Lincoln’s research has been accepted by an e-book publishing company — an achievement she attributes to the connections she made through her Lilly grant project.

“Vocation is a certain attitude toward approaching life, not just a job,” Lincoln says. “The Lilly grant opened new doors, and I'm now in touch with dozens of people, farmers and scholars who are as passionate about wandering as I am.”