Spending your fall, winter or spring break serving others with fellow Ripon College students can change your life. Every student is welcome and encouraged to participate in specially designed alternative break projects. Each alternative break is different but guarantees you will learn about yourself and others and be able to focus on social justice issues hands-on.
One such opportunity that has been in progress for several years is building a dam and serving other construction needs in the tiny village of Wacuco, Panama. Ripon College students, advisers and residents of the Ripon area join in a 10-day trip each year to support the work of Father Wally Kasuboski, a Capuchin priest and a native of Ripon, Wisconsin.
Fr. Wally, known as “Padre Pablo” in Panama, has served as the priest in Wacuco since 1988. He works with the impoverished people in the Bayano Mission to organize a construction company with a spiritual mission that has created jobs, built churches and a hospital, maintained roads and designed water systems.
He has been honored by the Panamanian government and received an honorary degree from Ripon College in 2010.
For more than 20 years, people of all ages and genders from the Ripon area have traveled to the jungles of Panama to do mission work with Fr. Wally. The Rotary Club of Ripon is among benefactors that have supported Fr. Wally’s efforts. For the past few years, Ripon College students and advisers have joined the annual trek and have helped further work on the Padre Pabro Dam and Reservoir construction project being built to provide a safe and constant water supply for several thousand Panamanians living in nearby isolated communities.
Brian Smith, Ripon College religion professor and Charles and Joan Van Zoeren Chair in Religion, Ethics and Values, has accompanied most groups of Ripon College students who traveled to Panama.