Students give gift of llama


Students in the Spanish 310 classes this fall had no idea when they enrolled that they would have the opportunity to change the lives of another family. Through the help of Heifer International, a United States-based company, these students were able to do just that.

Spanish professors Christi Garst-Santos and Angie Iverson-Maggi teach the class and each semester they teach about social change and getting involved.

“We all thought it would be beneficial to put our words into action,” Garst-Santos said.

Heifer International was devised by a Midwestern farmer named Dan West. He was giving rations of milk to children during the Spanish Civil War when he had a revelation. According to the Heifer International website, West said, “These children don’t need a cup, they need a cow.”

West sent the first shipment of 17 dairy cows from Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico in 1944. To date, West’s idea has impacted over 65 million people.

“I think it fits in well with the Spanish program,” said Dani Onken, a journalism major from Slayton, Minn. “It also represents SDSU well. I’ve done a lot of mission trips and it was cool to help out families.”

For the past three years, students in the fall semester of Spanish 310 have raised money for families in the Andes region of South America to purchase a llama. This past year they were able to raise $210, the highest amount raised thus far. This enabled the department to buy a llama as well as a basket of chicks, ducklings and goslings for a family in another Spanish-speaking country.

“This was extremely exciting. We always promised to buy a full llama, which costs $150, no matter what,” said Garst-Santos. “Being able to go above and beyond this was awesome.”

Students weren’t obligated to donate and no set amount was required.

“I think this was a great idea,” said former Spanish 310 student and Spanish major Angela McCoy. “You could give any amount and they weren’t overbearing about it. They just opened it up to us.”

This project is now being arranged to occur every semester instead of just in the fall. “I think this is a great opportunity to allow students to give and help out, especially if they don’t exactly know the best way to go about it. They can feel good knowing they’re giving families hope and a chance to succeed,” said Josh Johnson, a global studies and Spanish major from Watertown, S.D.

More than just Spanish 310 students can help out with this project. Garst-Santos says the goal for the spring semester is $300.

For more information or to donate, call 605-688-5102 or talk to any Spanish department professor.