EDINBURG – Approximately 35 youth of the Edinburg Housing Authority (EHA) attended a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) camp hosted by Rice University students at La Posada during Spring break.

The purpose of the camp was to introduce the young residents to new and unique activities that would allow them to interact, have fun and learn all at once.

Rice University Center for Civic Leadership reached out to EHA to partner in an initiative to provide new academic insight on how the agency could better serve their residents.

Center for Civic Leadership is a program that seeks partnerships between the university and community in order to bring positive and sustainable change to the United States and the world.

Both agency staff and Youth Leadership members (YLA) met with 11 Rice University students and Director of Curriculum and Fellowships Dr. Danika Burgess Brown on Mar. 13 to discuss plans on current EHA endeavors.

“Partnerships between universities and community organizations are essential for creating meaningful interactions and experiences in which students can come to an understanding of how their academic preparation can be used to make an impact for their communities.”, said Dr. Brown when asked about the importance of partnerships between universities and the community.

Aside from leading the Alternative Spring Break Camp (ASB), the 11 Rice University students also hosted a college panel and workshop Wednesday, Mar. 15.

The main purpose was to inform and answer any questions EHA youth had on various post high school subjects.

Coming together from different backgrounds academically, culturally and geographically the students from Rice collaborated to make spring break worthwhile for the camp participants.

Camp attendees witness the eruption of soda as Mentos were dropped in.

Worked on creating a solar powered toy car, which came together as the week progressed.

Molded a representation of earth’s layers by using marshmallows, melted chocolate and rice krispies, and made ice cream by shaking a small ziplock filled with a sweet vanilla liquid mixture in a larger ziplock with ice and sea salt.

Smeet Madhani from Dallas, TX studying Cognitive Science at Rice was grateful for the participation and enthusiasm of the young residents who attended.

“They were all so enthusiastic and energetic about everything, even though it was their spring break too, and although they could’ve been at home playing video games or outside playing soccer they chose to be with us and that means a lot. At the end of the week, we learned just as much from them as they learned from us.”

To wrap up the week the Rice group celebrated the achievement of the participants by awarding them a certificate.

It was a week filled with new and unique activities for the residents at EHA and many learning opportunities for the students from Rice.

“While at the RGV, our ASB took a tour of the border led by an activist who works for Proyecto Azteca. After the tour he told us that if there was anything he had learned in his life it was to give more than what you receive. He went on to talk about how fortunate he was (despite all the hardships he had faced in his life). Hearing him speak really inspired me to try to use the resources available to me in such a way that I can help make others lives better.”, said camp counselor, Estefani Perez from Miami, FL who is most definitely is interested in being a part of another alternative spring break camp .

To honor the Rice partnership EHA awarded the Rice students and Dr. Brown with certificates of appreciation.

““The agency is extremely grateful for the efforts of the Rice students and Dr. Brown of course. The camp counselors taught our youth about science, math, engineering and technology using some very neat tools and activities. Our youth got to meet students that came from different areas of this country and the world. Overall the collaboration between the agency and Rice was a major success. EHA will continue to encourage our residents to pursue a higher education through more unique and collaborative initiatives, such as the alternative spring break camp.”, said Mr. Ramirez when asked about the Rice students coming down to teach and interact with the young housing residents.

Visit the Edinburg Housing Authority Facebook page to view the Rice Alternative Spring Break Camp album.

You can also visit www.edinburgha.org to learn more about housing and it’s current initiatives to help rethink housing and how you can be a part of it.