Trekking to Honduras with Ohio State Students

Crimson Cup and Ohio State Students with elementary school students from El Socorro, Honduras
At Crimson Cup, we’re passionate about creating stronger communities – both locally and internationally. One of the ways we do so is by sponsoring cross-cultural exchanges between coffee lovers and coffee growers.

Recently, Greg Ubert and Dave Eldridge guided a group of Ohio State University students on a service learning trip to the village of El Socorro de la Penita, Honduras. We’ve been working with El Socorro farmers since 2011. We import their coffee through our Friend2Farmer® direct trade program, which ensures that farmers receive a fair share of the proceeds from coffee sales. We also donate funds for education and community improvements.

Participating students from Ohio State’s Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Education, Nursing, and Business included Madison Carroll, Karina Kurzhals, Jacob Mendlovic, Andrea Rollert, Emilie Vandenberg and Matthew Wysong. Led by Zia Ahmed, Ohio State’s senior director of Student Life Dining Services, the students learned about coffee cultivation and issues facing small-plot coffee farmers

Students drink El Socorro coffee on campus, and the trip explored the long journey coffee takes from farm to cup. Along the way, students learned about the coffee production cycle, developed relationships and gained an understanding of socioeconomic issues facing coffee farmers. While in Honduras, they toured coffee farms and a wet mill that processes ripe coffee cherries, learning about smallholder farming systems and their agricultural and environmental practices.

Students also met with teachers and students at the community’s one-room Jose Cecilio del Valle elementary school, which serves over 70 students. There, they participated in classroom sessions and engaged students in learning activities.

This is the second service learning trip to El Socorro that Crimson Cup has sponsored, and we’re currently working with Ohio State to set up an ongoing series of service learning trips. Our experience is that this kind of educational and cultural exchange benefits both the students and the local farmers.

For example, last year’s trip inspired the El Socorro community to make improving education for local children a priority. On this year’s trip, students worked with community leaders and Crimson Cup on plans to hire an English-speaking teacher for the school. Earlier this year, we raised $4,800 to fund the teacher’s salary through an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign. Students also explored a process for setting up scholarships to enable El Socorro students to attend school beyond the sixth grade. We worked with Barrington Elementary School students to raise funds for scholarships.

We appreciate Zia Ahmed’s leadership in coordinating the service learning program, and the El Socorro community is grateful for the contributions of the students. Together, we are making a real difference in the lives of students and the farmers who grow coffee served on campus!

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