Paint up the town — Vandals come together for annual Paint the Palouse event


The University of Idaho completed the 28th annual Paint the Palouse event with the help of nearly 300 Vandals.

The project, which targeted to paint four houses this year, had three shifts of students help paint up the town between 8:20 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.

Gaelle Sawadogo, a senior architecture student and area assistant at UI, has been involved with Paint the Palouse for three years. She said she first participated as a freshman, and has taken part ever since.

“I work with housing, I am an area assistant, and part of our job is supervising this event,” Sawadogo said. “Being students and residents of Moscow, we get to give back to the community in a way that really helps, and this is our way of helping, by painting as many houses as we can.”

Sawadogo said part of the reason she enjoys the event so much is because of the teamwork, and the interactions between students in a constructive social environment.

“This event really allows new students to be involved and make friends,” Sawadogo said. “So, it actually helps them while giving back to the community.”

Sawadogo, who is in her second year holding an authoritative position at Paint the Palouse, said she gravitated toward this event because it seemed like the most obvious choice in regard to her skills.

“I thought it would be a challenge for me, but at the same time (painting houses) is also in my skill set,” Sawadogo said. “Also, because I’m very involved with Housing and Residence Life ­— I’m close to the project and I enjoy showing leadership and being a role model for the younger students.”

Sawadogo said it’s good to go beyond the confines of one’s comfort levels and explore the variety of organizations to get involved in around campus.

“It’s good to get out of my bubble, and show the younger people that it’s a good thing to do,” Sawadogo said. “We can be rewarded by (volunteering) because we get to know people, make friends, and acquiring leadership skills and opportunities”

Sawadogo said she encourages anyone to volunteer and help those in the community who aren’t fully prepared to help themselves.

“Next year, I invite everybody to come out to Paint the Palouse and get their hands dirty,” Sawadogo said. “Everybody can use help sometimes.”

Kylan Kikuyama, an academic mentor at the university, said the authenticity of Paint the Palouse toward those in the community is what stood out when choosing a cause to volunteer for.

“With Paint the Palouse you get to learn about a specific person or people in the community,” Kikuyama said. “You get to know the person you’re volunteering for as opposed to a business.”
Mathew Murphy-Sweet, a mechanical engineering major at UI, said Paint the Palouse is one of many ways to go beyond one’s self to help others.

“It’s amazing to get out into the community and get involved in something bigger than yourself,” Sweet said.

Sweet said he chose to volunteer for Paint the Palouse, as opposed to other events on campus, because it offers things for volunteering students and community members at the same time.

Sweet said he was looking forward to working with those on his residence hall floor and building a working community with them.

Andrew Ward can be reached at or follow @WardOfTheWorlds

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