Grand Valley Student Studying Abroad Now Helping To Rebuild After Wildfires In Chile

chileWEST MICHIGAN (April 17, 2014) A Grand Valley State University Student was studying abroad in Chile when the wildfires tore through communities there and now she is working to help rebuild.

Wildfires ripped through the hilltops in Valparaiso on Saturday leaving more than a dozen people dead, injuring hundreds and leaving thousands of homes destroyed.

Kaytlin Furlong is a senior in the studies abroad program at Grand Valley, her dream is to teach English to Spanish-speaking students one day abroad. She thought immersing herself in the culture and their daily life would be a great opportunity to further her education but never imaged it would teach her life lessons like this.

She only got to Chile about two months ago but says it has already become her new home and the strength that she has seen from those who lest everything is truly inspiring.

We talked with Furlong and her friend, Ameena Igram who is also studying abroad over Skype Thursday. Igram says she even had to evacuate her home for two days because of the fire.

Furlong lives in the city about a 15 minute walk from Igram but since the fires, the two along with other students have been working to raise money, visiting donation centers to drop off food and traveling to the harder hit areas to try to help.

She said just yesterday they even made sandwiches to bring to those living in tents now.

“I actually feel like I have a purpose for being here. I’m not just here to study anymore, I’m here to help save a community. I’m here to do something that actually matters. That is just incredible to me, all of us in our ‘ISA’ group have never been so inspired to do something.

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