Resembling more of a summer camp than an architecture class, a group of students flew 229 kites Tuesday on the Mississippi riverbank behind Coffman Union for children in Haiti.
Students in the 12 sections of architecture professor Leslie Van Duzer’s design fundamentals class made the kites for their final project. The American Refugee Committee will send them to Haiti, where they will be given to children living in settlement camps.
The class has a service project every year, but this particular idea was inspired by Van Duzer’s recent trip to Haiti.
“I was worried about coming home quite depressed,” Van Duzer said. “But I came back somewhat happy after seeing how resilient the people were and then seeing the kids in these camps flying kites. It gave new meaning to the phrase ‘kids will be kids.’ ”
Van Duzer and assistant professors Ozayr Saloojee and John Comazzi traveled in April to Haiti as volunteers with ARC to assess living conditions.
It has been nearly four months since an earthquake devastated Haiti, leaving about 1.3 million people homeless.
Hundreds of thousands currently live in settlement camps of makeshift tarp homes and shanties and will be threatened by the upcoming rainy season.
“Hopefully these kites will bring some well-deserved instant happiness,” Van Duzer said.
Students took advantage of the windy conditions to test their kites as teaching assistants observed. “Other projects have been really serious with a focus on design, so this one is a lot of fun,” said Sharanda Whittaker, a first-year pre-architecture student.
Both Van Duzer and students said they felt fortunate to have the opportunity to help the Haitian people.
“It’s small, but as poor students, this is something we can do to help,” Whittaker said.