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International students contribute to community service store’s grand opening

Students at UMKC’s Applied Language Institute (ALI) warmed their hands as part of their day of service.

Despite previous setbacks from stopping the global pandemic, two groups of students volunteered in early November at the ReStore and Habitat for Humanity sites in Lenexa, KS and Martin City, MO.

“There are about 30 people, and we are all excited to work in the community,” said student volunteer Khaled Al-Dawy. “The American people are very friendly.”

ALI students are international and local students learning English as a Second Language (ESL). After their time at ALI, many students go on to other academic departments at UMKC. The day of service gave them the opportunity to practice communicating in the work environment while also communicating with the community.

The sounds of turning and lifting reverberated throughout an enormous warehouse as volunteers and staff quickly moved around in preparation for the grand opening that would take place the next day.

Student volunteers and staff stacked the giant shelves with goods ready to go to local homes, and everyone did their part to make sure the process went smoothly and on time.

“It’s a huge shop,” said student volunteer Aziz Darwish. “I had the opportunity to practice communication, and it was a great experience.”

Al-Duwi and Darwish are both from Kuwait and have been looking forward to volunteering since the professors first mentioned the opportunity to serve. They wandered around stock and freight while their classmates finished painting a floor-to-ceiling wall.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores is a home improvement and furniture store that sells new and used building materials, furniture, and appliances. Proceeds from each store’s sales go directly to Habitat for Humanity, which helps build affordable housing.

“We can’t do this without the volunteers,” said Brooke McPhail, principal at ReStore. “Everything they do goes into building houses.”

Everyone at ReStore appreciated, and there was high spirits and banter in the air as the first snow of the year fell outside.

UMKC also has a campus-wide service day, but many international students miss it because they are out of the country. Community service is an influential way for international students to experience American culture while effectively improving lives in a variety of ways.

From left to right: Jassem Al-Asset, Sarah Al-Qarni, Lujain Abu Nasser, Daniela Gajardo Azucar, Minkhin Erdenibat, Abdul Majeed Al-Mutairi, Melanie Meirelles Medina, and Michael Turner. (Chelsea Potts)

“It was a wonderful day,” said student volunteer Sarah Al-Qarni. “I feel good knowing that someone’s life might be a little better because of what I did.”



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