Apr 22 2008

Somewhere Cold

by junior Kylee Phyllips

“Why in the world do you want to go somewhere cold for spring break?” I cannot count the number of times I received this similar question when I was asked if I was going to places like Florida for spring break and happily replied, “No, I’m going to Alaska!” After hearing stories from friends who had remarkable ASB trips, I went into my Alaska adventure with an extremely open attitude and the willingness to try anything and give my all. Even though I felt like I gave my all with service, I do believe that I received so much more out of the experience that I ever could have given.

Before being accepted on this trip, I never had even heard of the Tlingit culture. Now I cannot stop sharing stories about it. The little island of Hoonah, Alaska which we visited was full of big cultural statements. The hardest part about this trip to Alaska was remembering that I really was still in the U.S.A. I learned so many things from this experience, from sustainability, to culture, to education, to wildlife, and lots more in-between, I definitely came out of this trip with a new train of thought. Considering that this particular trip was the first of its kind, our team dove into all different facets of service-learning to really see what Alaska had to offer. Two huge categories for service work fall into mind for this area – environmental issues and education, and I will reflect upon my experience with both of these. Continue Reading »

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Apr 22 2008

When Stereotypes Don’t Fit

by junior Kate Webber

This spring break I was given the opportunity to go to Philadelphia and work with two parts of the homeless population there, while spending my days immersed in different religions. My trip differed from the other trips offered through CSLEPS in that we were able to discuss our service in the context of religion, which to me are two inseparable topics. This experience opened my eyes to my personal stereotyping of a homeless person and how the homeless population does not fit that stereotype. Continue Reading »

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Apr 22 2008

True community

by junior Faran Dulberg

My trip to Belize was truly one of the most amazing experiences I have had thus far in my life. It opened my eyes to a completely different way of living. I feel really cliché in saying that it changed me, but it really did. I learned that even though people are living at poverty levels they are still happy and seemingly content with their lives. Even if they do not have the latest technologies or hot running water in their homes they are able to enjoy life to the fullest they can. Since they have never known all of the advancements we have in the United States, the people of Belize do not miss them. I almost wish that we did not have all of the technologies we have today in the U.S; they seem to isolate people from interacting with each other. With the everyday use of i-pods and video games people are so out of touch with what is going on around in their communities. Technologies that were supposed to help connect people instead actually isolate them. Continue Reading »

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Apr 22 2008

The Difference Between About and From

by sophomore Whitney Chrisco

As I rustle around in bed the delightful, elegant, but loud and persistent sounds of parrots, toucans, and chickens fill the air along with the pungent smell of several out-houses. I remember that I am in Belize, and I am hesitant to open my eyes, scared to find what may be chilling on top of the mosquito net that separates my safety zone from the rest of the thatch roof hut that I have been sleeping in. I open my eyes and immediately scan my surroundings. There are not any scorpions that have fallen from the thatch roof above, where a family of them live. My eyes move to the cement floor and wooden walls searching for tarantulas. I am again thankful that they have not made it into our one room shed that we called home for the week. As my eyes scan the walls, which are only wooden for the bottom half and screen for the top half, I am not surprised to see a rooster sitting upon the ledge on the outside of the screen. I look to my roommate and I say, “I smell beans and rice. What do you think?” She agrees. We begin to ponder if they ever get tired of eating the same thing, but we came to the conclusion that they probably do not think anything of it. They are grateful for what they have and eat what is available. We immediately remembered that we were going to be having fry jacks (a kind of fried flour tortilla) for breakfast! Our host mom had shown us how to make them a couple nights before and it immediately became one of our favorite things to eat in Belize. Continue Reading »

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Mar 07 2008

Understanding the depth of service

by senior Jo Vargas

NC State Senior Jo Vargas (center) interprets the pre-health team’s tour of the Banelino banana cooperative.In reflection of my time here in the Dominican Republic - now that it is about that time to leave and return to the routine American life I have set for myself as a student - I have begun to understand the depth to service, in its verb format. I have always been one to serve and make sure others felt comfortable around me while doing various service projects and in different areas of service. What I have discovered during my week in the Dominican Republic is that service doesn’t always involve sacrifice. One tends to group these two words together, especially in the United States, where being available for service involves sacrificing your time, resources and money. Continue Reading »

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Mar 07 2008

Gumbiesque, among other things

by NC State’s Pre-Health team

NCSU’s pre-health team members served throughout the local Monte Cristi community.Of course, the most important aspect of ASB is SERVING the local people of wherever your destination is. Ours was the Dominican Republic, where we provided health education to residents of some of the poorest villages there and taught students about anatomy, nutrition and hygiene at local schools surrounding Monte Cristi. In addition to serving, the one thing that stood out during our service trip was the connections that were formed between each member of our group - they were effortless. From day one, we acted like we all had known each other since high school, but the truth is that no one really knew anyone. The connections just seemed to be innately there, which is very rare and hard to find. Continue Reading »

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Mar 07 2008

Bringing service home

by senior Jonathan Scott

NCSU senior Jonathan Scott takes a Dominican woman’s blood pressure as one of the many health and education projects NCSU’s pre-health team conducted during its service trip.I’ll skip straight to the point - working in a foreign culture is a wonderful and invigorating experience. The typical expectation is that such an experience would drive someone to keep working abroad, but it is in fact fueling my desire to serve in the United States. Not because I don’t want to be here and serve the people here - life here is a blast and the people are wonderful - but because I want to serve the values of America that I hold so dear: the respect for individuality, the rewards for drive and the limitless potential for success. These ideals are what I want to serve and to protect, for I believe the U.S. can still lead the world.

In contrast to the Dominican Republic, the main issue within the U.S. is not educating the public about health and hygiene - which is the service I’m doing here - the issue is instilling in Americans a thirst for life, a thirst that is available in great abundance here in the Dominican. The tough question is: What is easier? Instilling a thirst for life or educating about health? Is it easier for us to advocate healthy practices because we think we already know it all? Is it easier to show a man how to wash his hands to kill germs or to show a man how to live his dreams? As it always ends with me, what takes away more life: malaria, tuberculosis or television?

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Mar 07 2008

Discovering a new role model

by senior Christina Cox

Senior Christina Cox helps carry rice during her health and education service trip to the Dominican Republic.It definitely happened again today. I was walking through the dirt in the patey of Los Aguas and an older gentleman looked at my nametag and called my name. “Christina,” he called across the lawn as he motioned for me to come over. As he attempted to speak to me, I pieced together with my limited knowledge of Spanish that he thought that I was a native of the Dominican Republic. My basic background in the Spanish language served as a barrier to our conversation. I wanted so badly to explain to him that there are many people in ‘Estados Unidos,’ who look like both of us. How selfish have I been? How selfish have I been to think that just because I speak English the rest of the world should too? The people of the Dominican Republic have so very little in terms of money and educational opportunities, but almost everyone here knows at least a little bit of English and many are conversational. Serving in the Dominican Republic during this past week has definitely opened my eyes to the rest of the world, and language is only one aspect of the ways in which my eyes have been opened.
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Mar 07 2008

Connecting on another level

by senior Veera Motashaw

Veera Motashaw shares some time with a local Dominican child.I have been more than blessed the past 21 years of my life and the last seven days in Monte Cristi have truly allowed me to share my passion of showing unconditional love with others. The people here have been so hospitable and generous in opening their homes to us that I just I wish I had more time to stay and love everyone a little longer. I have learned more than I could read in any book or learn from any teacher, and more importantly, my ability to serve (versus help) has truly been honed through my connections to the people of the Dominican Republic.

Children as young as Jose Miguel, a 3rd grader at Laguna Verde, taught me about serving, persistence, and patience. Jose barely comprehended directions to our classroom activity, but he was still more than determined to complete his activity successfully. The first part of our activity had such an impact on me because after observing a few of the children struggling to open something so simple as a zip lock bag, it took a moment for me to reflect on just how many things we take for granted in the US. For our team, we thought, “Lets buy zip lock baggies, they will be the cheapest thing to bring to these children.” But the children had never seen something so magical! When they figured out they did not have to bite the bags open to use them, they opened and closed them with each paper they took out or put in the bags. It is just so amazing to think that these children are going to cherish these bags. They are really going to go home and hold on to this bag for as long as possible, because when is the next time that they will be able to have something so special?
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Mar 06 2008

Better than the beach

by freshman John Campbell, Jr.

John Campbell, Jr. lets his passion for service show while teaching in a Domincan classroom.Spring break-a time characteristic of parties, picturesque beaches, and a carefree lifestyle. However, in reflection over the past four days of my spring break, I am forced to recognize and appreciate the contrast between what most college freshmen are doing with their break from classes and what I am doing here in the Dominican Republic.

At first glance, my spring break seems to be ideal-Caribbean beaches, cool breezes and lots of sun. However, these very general things only touch the surface of why my spring break is ideal. Over the course of these last four days, I have had the opportunity to interact with and immerse myself in the culture of Monte Cristi. Every morning I get up with an innate desire to serve the children of this place. It is my passion that fuels the thirty-minute walks to and from the school where I teach. It is the smiles of every child in my classroom that makes the intense heat a little more bearable. It is the look of amazement and relief on the faces of struggling fourth graders when they finally understand the vocabulary word that I have been drilling for the last five minutes that makes having a hoarse voice worthwhile. Continue Reading »

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