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Passion for the people of India

Hannah Lyrek, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire freshman professional sales marketing major from Independence, MN, has been selected to receive the Sally Webb International Service Fellowship Award for the 2014-15 academic year. The $1,500 award is given to an outstanding student seeking to complete a service project in an international setting—either through one of the university's approved international study abroad sites or in a specific international setting.

Lyrek will travel to India with a group of about 15 people from Illinois and Minnesota to work as a volunteer for the Anurag Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the women and children of Lado Sarai, one the most impoverished neighborhoods in Delhi, India. During her eight day visit, she will teach English to school children, and play and do activities with pre-school children.

Lyrek's passion for India and its people began when she was in first grade.

"I mailed a child a gift with my photo and address, and a boy wrote back," she explained. "I had no idea where my present was being sent around the world, but when I began writing him, I knew someday I would have to meet this new friend of mine in India."

Lyrek's friend was Rockson, a young boy from New Delhi. The pen pals have kept in touch, first through letters and more recently through Facebook. She hopes she will be able to meet him and his family when she is in Delhi.

The Sally Webb International Service Fellowship Award is helping Lyrek achieve a lifelong goal.

"I have a heart and passion to serve the people of India and now I finally get the opportunity to go and serve in a place I have heard and learned so much about," she said. "I hope to make a difference in the lives of the people there by bringing joy and help to them.

For more information about service-learning scholarships, contact Benita Wagner, coordinator, UW-Eau Claire Center for Service-Learning.