The Opportunity of a Lifetime – A Meaningful Spring Break – by Kyle Dosan. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
Just imagine this scenario: Instead of going home for your first college spring break you decide to go on a service trip that will be thousands of miles from your hometown with forty-six people that you do not know that well. Sounds enticing doesn’t it? That is exactly how I spent my spring break this semester and I am so happy that I get to share my experience with all of you. To start off I need to tell a little bit of a backstory. At the beginning of the fall semester I decided to join a few extracurricular groups who love to volunteer throughout the school year. One of the clubs I joined is called Students Today Leaders Forever (otherwise known as STLF) and it is a group who has this big one-week volunteer excursion called the Pay It Forward Tour (also called the PIFT), where a group of students get on a coach bus the day of spring break and travel to five different states and volunteer in a different community each day. There is always one city that we are traveling toward called the “celebration city”, where we team up with other colleges and go out and have one big group volunteer project. This year’s celebration city happened to be in Atlanta, Georgia. I am from Duluth, Minnesota and I have only visited parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Thunder Bay, Canada, so I was interested in the travel aspect for this trip. I also really enjoy volunteering. I absolutely love giving back to communities and helping others so I was really excited to go on the PIFT. Our destinations for our service trip were (in order) Joliet, Illinois; Shelbyville, Kentucky; Ashville, North Carolina; Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina and ending up in Atlanta, Georgia. Some of the volunteering we did ranged from going to a Boys and Girls Club, picking up trash, helping out at a food shelf and jump starting a gardening program at an elementary school in Atlanta.
(Picture of STLF after our first volunteer site at the Boys and Girls Club in Joliet, Illinois)
Along our travels we would either stay at the location we were to volunteer at or in a church or rec. center. My favorite volunteer project on the PIFT had to be when we visited the Boys and Girls Club in Illinois. It was great to interact and play games with the kids that almost made us volunteers feel like we were little kids once again. We also put on an Easter egg scavenger hunt that went through the whole building and was followed by a pizza party. When we would leave a service site and get back on the bus there were some long rides but having a different “bus buddy” everyday led to the time going by fast because you would have a new friend by the end of the bus ride. We would arrive at our next service site or church late in the afternoon or early evening and this is where we would spend the night. We would participate in various bonding activities that allowed us to really connect with the all the other leaders on the trip and make new friendships. However, the trip was more than just volunteering and long bus rides. Our STLF group has a “date night” that is in our celebration city where a group of friends go and explore the city. Usually there are more girls than guys on the trip so the guys ask either 4 to 5 girls to accompany them on date night. There is one rule in order to properly ask a girl out on date night: it has to be creative and in front of the whole group, so this made for some funny and well thought-out “date-night-proposals.” Although it rained for most of date night it was still fun to visit the Coca Cola Museum and explore Atlanta with some awesome people. Other than date night we had some opportunities to become tourists and explore the cities that we volunteered in. For example, we arrived in Charleston early so we spent almost two hours at the beach and we were able to see the Atlantic Ocean. For me, it was my first time seeing the ocean and it was a great experience. On our way back from the trip we stopped in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, and I have to say it is one of my favorite cities. For one I love country music and everywhere you walk in downtown Nashville country music is playing all over and the barbecued food was great as well. Also there is a soda called Cheerwine that is sold exclusively in the Carolina’s that I tried and in my opinion it is 10 times better than cherry Coke.
(The Atlantic Ocean at the beach in Charleston, South Carolina)
(Picture of the Honky Tonk restaurant in downtown Nashville, Tennessee)
I am forever grateful that I was able to spend my first spring break on such a unique trip with so many awesome people. Walking off the bus after coming home from the PIFT was difficult because it was one of the best weeks of my life. From making forty-six new friends, to volunteering, to the site-seeing it was an all-around tremendous experience. It was touching to hear some of the people’s stories at the different volunteer sites and they thanked us from the bottom of their hearts for helping them. At the end of the day that is what volunteering is all about, helping other people and wanting to make a difference. On this trip I was able to practice leadership skills while meeting new people and volunteering. I highly recommend anyone at the College of Saint Scholastica to consider going to an STLF meeting and going on the PIFT next spring. I know that I am already excited for next years PIFT because I had that much fun!
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu