Students participate in Mission of Hope

Jessica Mendoza

Spring break’s over. But whether we’ve sunbathed on the beaches of Mexico or built stoves on a mission trip to Peru, it’s not too late to think about going on another trip.

From March 18 through June 30, a team of graduate students from the University of Washington plans to send 1,000 college ambassadors on a $1 million “Mission of Hope” to communities devastated by the tsunami.

When the tsunami struck southern Thailand on Dec. 26, 2004, the country’s tourism industry was hit hard. Families that relied upon tourist dollars for survival were agonized.

Benjamin Brigham, the founder of the mission, then traveled to Thailand to study the impact of the tsunami on this industry. The people he encountered all seem to say the same thing: they no longer want charity. They want work.

Recognizing the upcoming surge of spring breakers, Brigham started the mission to allow college students to use their money and time to make a difference. His team plans to send ambassadors from every state to tour three communities hit by the tsunami and to interact with survivors. By accomplishing their goal of sending 1,000 student tourists to Thailand, Brigham’s team will help generate nearly $1 million for the suffering communities.

With the participation of Rattana Dutthepnimit, the Managing Director of Krabi Trhai Village Resort in Thailand, Azumano Travel and the Pacific Asia Travel Association, mission participants are provided with special airfares and affordable hotel rates. The week long stay costs an average of $269, not including airfare. The team of graduate students also provides funding ideas and can arrange for some students to receive academic credit.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for students from many disciplines to study the effects of a natural disaster, while expressing their solidarity with the victims, providing a much needed economic boost, and most importantly, personally delivering a message of hope,” said Brigha.