Instead of heading home when his volunteer experience ended in June, Prommel continued
to travel around South Africa. He explored Swaziland and Lesotho, where he ate
and lived like the locals to fully immerse himself in the culture.
“Living with locals in the mountainous region of central South Africa was humbling,”
said Prommel. “To see that their diet consists of spinach, maize and bread for
every meal really put into perspective how easy we have it in the United States.”
He also visited local healers, the only female tribal chief in South Africa and the
birthplace of the nation’s first president, Nelson Mandela.
Prommel returned to the United States in early July with a renewed perspective; however
he did not return to Morgantown. Instead he headed south to unveil his hidden talent:
Prior to setting out on his journey to South Africa, Prommel was recovering from
a broken heart after the end of a three-year relationship. Feeling lost and struggling
to cope with the failed relationship, he found solace in writing poetry.
“When we broke up I felt lost; I felt very alone,” explained Prommel. “I started
writing and found a community of students that supported me at WVU and they pushed
me to pursue my passion.”
Prommel channeled his time, energy and emotions into creating poetry that was reflective
of his personal experience and heart break. The poems were assembled and transformed
into a book of poetry that detailed his mental journey through the ordeal.
The book, titled “On Display,” was written in both Spanish and English to reflect
Prommel’s heritage and was launched on July 14, in Houston, Texas.
“The main goal for writing the book was to rediscover myself,” said Prommel. “The
book helped spark a flame in me to keep on perusing my passions. I didn’t know
it at the time but the book ultimately helped prepare me for my next challenge.”
Prommel is referring to his final and most difficult journey of the summer, an 11-day
trek across Europe.
“I was given the chance to experience the German state of Bavaria in the most unique
and true way: by hopping mountain to mountain and staying in Bavarian huts and
local homes,” said Prommel.
Prommel headed straight from the launch event in Texas to Europe to hike across Germany
and Austria through the Northern Alps. During the trip he tackled a 21-mile hike
to the peak of the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany, and covered more
than 115 miles on foot through the rugged terrain.
“Hiking up a mountain is a rewarding experience in itself as the feat seems daunting
during the approach but the views are truly breathtaking,” said Prommel. “Eleven
days in places where the only way I could communicate was through hand signs and
broken German was humbling. As the journey comes to an end I feel a great feeling
of accomplishment and fulfillment.”
Prommel returned to Morgantown to begin the fall semester at WVU and admitted that
it’s not always easy to juggle school, traveling around the world and writing poetry.
However, he credits WVU and the engineering program with helping him find the right
balance between work and play and hopes to one day use his experiences to give
back to the University.
“Engineering students have to become masters of time management to succeed, and I
believe that if you have time for Netflix then you have time to pursue your passions,”
said Prommel. “WVU and the professors at the engineering college have helped me
overcome the fear of failure, the loss of loved ones, and have encouraged me to
push forward. Having a world view will help me in the future to understand problems
and find solutions within the WVU community, within the engineering curriculum
and within myself.”