Category: Service & The Greater Good

Jamie For Jamaica ’16

I have chosen to study abroad in Jamaica in January, 2016. Here is my philosophy behind studying abroad: I have chosen to study abroad because of the amount of time I will be working directly with members of a different culture. Intercultural communication is very important to me, hence why I am minoring in Communication Studies, and understanding intercultural communication will help in practically any business and/or personal situation I encounter. On this trip, I am not studying history and architecture, I am immersing myself in a culture. This international experience will better prepare me for global non-profit work, relating to my international studies minor. This relates to my future career aspiration of starting a non-profit organization that I wish to spread to other parts of the world. I need to not only learn about but experience what injustices people of all cultures of the world are facing. Then, and only then, will I be able to better understand the mission of a global non-profit organization. Experiencing a foreign culture will better prepare me for global non-profit work. I want to better understand cultural diversity. I need to learn and experience what injustices people of all cultures of the world are facing. Then, and only then, will I be able to better understand the mission of a global non-profit organization. I also want to learn more about my own culture. Not only do I learn the specifics about that culture I will be experiencing, but I become more aware of my own culture. By stepping out of my “comfort zone,” or my cultural norms, I am able to recognize what aspects of myself- my identity, values, beliefs, mannerisms, behaviors, etc.- are shaped or influenced by culture. By becoming more aware of these influences, I will be able to excel in various aspects of my life when it comes to setting goals and expectations, reacting to different situations, and most importantly, communicating cross-culturally, which relates to any type of career path I choose.

Leadershape 2015

Leadershape. What to say about Leadershape. Everyone I have ever talked to was never able to explain it. For some reason, I am able to explain it precisely. However, if you would like to know what Leadershape entails, please reach out to me. Otherwise, I am going to focus on two main things I learned during my experience:

 

1) Going against the grain. Never settle in a routine you are uncomfortable/unsatisfied with. Challenge yourself to be the best person you can be, the ideal version of yourself. Go against your normal behaviors or routines and try something different. I learned what it means to have “tact”. For me, it means being more cognizant and aware of my actions, words, and most importantly, behavior. I practiced sitting back, listening more, and being calmer. I practiced what it means to be appropriate and polite and not say anything that might be out of place. This has always been something I have gotten advice on before, whether it be from advisers, bosses, or even significant others. However, I never understand what they were saying; I had no context in which to frame their advice. Now, after learning this simple word, I can understand what these peers have been saying about me for a while. I understand what I need to work on and will incorporate it into my daily behavior.

 

 

2) Connecting with your community. I am great with connecting people and do it quite often. I actually am considered to be a “Connector,” that is I am great at networking and drawing connections between people I meet. I am always making referals and offering my resources. However, I do not generally connect with people just for the sake of getting to know them as a person. I tend to not go out of my way to really hear not what a person has to say, but what that person is all about. I consider myself to be open minded when it comes to one’s ideas, but I am not as open to actually learning about most people on a deep level- which actually surprises me because I am totally open to having deep conversations with people. I found that I do not actually value getting to know others, and it is something I am not actively changing. I make it a point to actually respond to texts/messages with others interested in talking to me, because I want to connect with these people. Before, I would make judgements and assumptions about them as a person and believe that there was no “benefit” of talking to them. Now, however, I want to be friends with everyone an look for those little things that I can connect with people over.

 

Perfect Timing

I anxiously awaited my blogger login to begin telling the world all about my AMAZING adventures at Elmhurst College. Today could not be a more perfect day to blog about. Yesterday I just returned home from the Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break Trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. It was truly an unforgettable experience. I have volunteered with Habitat before at my last college and fell absolutely in love with home construction. However, nothing could compare to the construction I did last week. Previously, I had hung dry wall, painting, hung outside siding, power washed a fence, and installed a second story on a house. This time, I was starting from the ground up… literally. When our group arrived, the cement foundation was laid and everything was planned, measured and marked. Here is a brief overview of some of the highlights from my week:

 

Day 1: Traveling via coach bus Saturday/ Sunday

I surprisingly slept the majority of the night with little pain. The rest stops throughout the night were timed just right. We awoke in the morning in the middle of Tennessee and stopped to have breakfast at at Waffle House. I ordered eggs, cinnamon raisin toast, and bacon with a side of GRITS. Yes, I had to Google what grits were… overall, pretty delicious. We arrived at our first church some of us were lodging at in Charlotte around 3:30 PM. I stepped off the bus to stretch and was mesmerized by the beauty! There were tiny purple and lavender colored flowers poking up from the grass, everywhere I looked. It was stunning, for they were my favorite colors. Once I arrived at the church I was staying at, I was very thankful for: having a room with a cot and mattress pad, balcony, and bathroom (although it was drafty, the walls were cracking, and the carpet smelled moldy).

 

Day 2: Exploring Charlotte

The day started off right away with a tour of Julia’s Coffee and Book Shop. It suddenly became my new favorite place. I found Gone Girl on CD so I can listen to it while I drive and three daily meditation books, one called Daily Meditations for Women Who Do To Much. How perfect. I also found something called The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Vegetarian Feminist Critical Theory, and another called Reasons Why It Is Socially Acceptable to Punch You In The Face. Both pretty interesting. We toured the Restore shop and it was great. Apparently they also work off of Amazon, so that is cool that I could order books straight from their site. Unfortunately I don’t remember their seller name.

 

After that tour, we continued to yet another tour, this time of Charlotte. College student Scott cam aboard our coach bus as we traveled around to Amelie’s French Bakery where I had a delicious apple turnover, to the rooftop of Farenheit, a restaurant where we can see the skyline, and to Imaginon, a children’s library. Once the tour was over, we were dropped off at 7th Street Public Market where I ordered THE BEST FOOD IN THE WORLD- a chicken curry crepe. I also bought a peanut butter and goatcheese triple berry jam sandwich- that I LOST somwhere downtown :(.

 

Next  a small group of us traveled aimlessly down the streets until we gave up and sat in a small business park in the warm rays of the sun. It was so much better than the snow we heard we were receiving at home. We were suddenly interrupted by an older man, asking us for money to buy minutes for his phone… we gave him some change and sent him on his way. After being lied to by the tour guide about Charlotte having 96 FroYo places, we spent an hour trying to navigate our way to one.

 

Day 3: First Work Day

 

Day 4: Hardest Work Day

 

Day 5: Best Work Day

 

Day 6: Most Uncomfortable Work Day/ Traveling Home

 

 

 

 

Pictures can be seen here –>>> EC H4H Alternative Spring Break 15 Charlotte, North Carolina