Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- February 18, 2005

Cal Poly Lecturer, Students to Raise Money for Tsunami Relief

Speech Communication Classes Learn the Value of Community

Cal Poly part-time lecturer Nina Truch couldn't imagine what she could possibly do to contribute to the relief effort for victims of this winter's tsunami in South Asia. So she proposed an idea to her students. The results are two March events, organized by students, which will raise funds for a local charity to aid tsunami disaster victims in Sri Lanka.

"The first day of winter quarter I asked them, 'How about we shred this syllabus and do a tsunami fund-raiser instead?'" she said. "They returned the following class with ideas about fund-raisers and possible organizations to donate to. One student suggested that the students sell back their textbooks and use that money to host an event. The students all agreed, so that's what we did."

The Cal Poly speech communication 102.1 class organized a 5K Tsunami Fund Run - Community Helping Community. The 5K fun run, March 5, is open to the public and includes a barbeque. The speech communication 102.2 class organized the Helping Hand Poker Tournament, open to Cal Poly students only.

Truch made sure that speech assignments were integrated into the quarter's projects. Students presented oral interpretations of stories written by writers from the countries impacted by the tsunami. She assigned a group project in which students gave informative speeches about countries hardest hit by the tsunami as a way to bring those areas into focus.

"I wanted the students to learn about the people they are helping," said Truch.

Proceeds from both events will benefit VeAhavta, a local nonprofit organization founded and directed by Eric Parkinson. VeAhavta ( is dedicated to providing charitable assistance to low-income, destitute and displaced persons and to promoting peace, understanding and mutual respect among people of different religions through education.

The students chose VeAhavta because of the organization's dedication to and compassion for the plight of orphaned Sri Lankan children living in poverty.

Students are also fund-raising for tsunami relief individually. One student suggested that the class sell See's candy to help raise additional money to add to the overall donation. The student successfully organized the purchase and distribution of the candy.

"These kids are beginning to develop a real sense of community and what it means," Truch said. "It's exciting when they receive a donation of a gift or money; they want to tell everyone else about it."

"Helping to organize the Tsunami Fund Run made me more aware of both the community of San Luis Obispo and communities around the world. I've enjoyed working with my classmates and San Luis Obispo businesses to organize this event and am looking forward to seeing people participate and show their support for those who were affected by the tsunami," said Kimberly Barnett, Cal Poly liberal studies major.

For more information about these events or to become a donor or sponsor, contact faculty advisor Nina Truch at (805) 756-5683 or

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