Brett "Amandla" Brawerman
Independent: Sports & Health Business
Class of 2012
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
Service has always been a huge part of my life. In fact, since my first birthday, my family and I have spent Christmas Eve and Day at the Children’s Inn at NIH. We wrap donated gifts and present them under the tree in the middle of the night, stuff stockings, and cook three meals for the families and the patients that are too sick or financially unable to go home for the holidays. This has become a wonderful family tradition that is cherished year in and out and will live on for as long as I am able. In addition, I complete service trips with my Greek organization, Sigma Phi Epsilon. We take community service very seriously and try to give back just as much as we are fortunate enough to get. We make frequent trips to the animal shelter; participate in Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, and fundraisers with other Greek organizations. Service has always, and will continue to be a top priority in my life. As selfish as it may sound, I personally get a lot out of service. It allows to me see how fortunate I have been in this life and how many opportunities are presented to me. This kind of thinking motivates me to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way and get everything out of it that I can. I try not to get credit or acknowledgement out of community service, but sometimes it feels good to represent my organizations and family in a bright way. However, it saddens me to see people with so many restrictions in their life, and sometimes I can’t really help that much. What I have learned is that a smile is contagious. Even one bright day out of someone’s year can make all the difference and spread hope and warmth.
I think of myself as a leader by example. I am not always the vocal team member who is in control, but I do everything to the best of my ability and try to illustrate to others what could and should be done. In times of chaos, I will step up and become a little more audible, but I try not to seem controlling or bossy, if you will. I believe that team chemistry leads to success. No matter how much “talent” or motivation there is, if a group cannot work together, a goal will be very difficult to reach. When I think back to my visits to the Children’s Inn at NIH, I think of some very tough obstacles that had to be overcome. An incident of dissonance would have to be when a patient gets too sick to be in the hotel-like atmosphere and must stay in a hospital room up the street. It is very difficult for me to comprehend what that patients family must be going through while having to sit in a medical clinic during the holiday’s especially when the entire family is not together. It makes me feel very selfish for being upset about what seem like such little things in comparison, and it makes my heart ache for those families. Some of them are not even from this country and don’t know where to go or how to even communicate with the hospital staff. Realizing that there isn’t much I can do to control their HIV/AIDS or cancer treatments, all I can do is try to put a smile on their face. My sister and I always take it upon us to bring a bag of donated gifts and gift cards (for food, entertainment, etc) to their rooms and try to spread a little holiday spirit and general kindness to the families. It is tough to make them feel pitied, when all we want to do is show them that we care. These service opportunities have made me grow as a person. In times of “crisis” I am able to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that they are bigger problems in the world, and that I need to have an optimistic outlook on life. When approaching service, no matter how hard it is for me, I try to keep a big smile on my face for all to share. I have learned and gained people skills, medical knowledge, and even some hope for our world’s future. In South Africa, I hope to bring some of this warmth and knowledge to those who need it. I hope to spread some optimism for a better tomorrow and hope that kindness is contagious in such a world in need. I also hope to learn more about current events so that I can increase awareness here in the United States.
Tracy "Lerato" Catlin
Finance & Accounting Major
Class of 2011
As I recall my history of service, I cannot help but think about how my outlook on service has changed dramatically over time. I first became involved in volunteer work during high school. Throughout my high school career I was involved in two service-oriented groups, Interact and National Honors Society. Through these groups I did service activities such as Pancake Breakfasts, Food Drives, and other countless volunteer opportunities. Although I participated in many service opportunities, I did not come into much contact with people or learn that much about myself. For the most part I thought of the volunteer work I did as more of something that would help me get into college along with helping other people in the process. The one volunteer activity I did on a consistent basis that I truly enjoyed was one I actually pursued on my own outside of my high school service groups. For my junior and senior years of high school I volunteered once a week at the Geauga Humane Society Rescue Village working with the dogs and puppies in need of homes. Each week I would come for at least one hour to walk, socialize, reiterate commands and ongoing training and basically love them as if it were my own. Now as a student at Elon, I am involved in service mostly through my Greek organization. My sorority’s philanthropy is Breast Cancer Awareness and Education in which we have multiple fundraising and awareness activities throughout the year both on and off campus.
As I said previously, my outlook on service has changed dramatically in which it began almost selfishly in that I would help others that in turn would help me in the end, or so I thought. However, after my experience at the Humane Society I realized that service is like a relationship or partnership and that as much as I think I am helping them, they in turn are helping me to grow and learn more about myself as well. Because many of my previous activities did not involve much actual person-to-person contact I think I saw service in a different light. I also believe that because I specifically sought out the Humane Society and chose to volunteer there on my own to work with animals that it meant more to me and was closer to my heart. Although the people who work for the Humane Society on a constant basis were always extremely thankful for my help, the relationships I formed with the dogs over time, especially those who had a hard time finding homes, meant more to me in the end. Seeing each dog each week wiggling and wagging to see me was my motivation to keep coming back, as silly as it sounds. In regards to service I am not usually the leader. I may take on leadership roles in many other activities I pursue but not when it comes to service. In most cases I may take on many different roles, at first I will usually do the work that is necessary because it may be new or unfamiliar to me. However, once I get the hang of it and become more knowledgeable then I may take on a more democratic leadership position. I believe when it comes to service that it should operate as a democracy and everyone should act as a team. Ultimately it’s not about me or what I want and I will take on whatever role or service activity that serves the group best. I do particularly favor children when it comes to service along with animals, which may be pretty obvious. For this reason I am extremely excited about my work placement site being Christine Revell Children’s Home. The one incident of “dissonance” that I have struggled with throughout my experiences with service is the fact that I can’t help everyone or everything. For example, during my experience at the Humane Society I wanted to give each and every dog a home, which my mom was there to object to that idea on a consistent basis. The hardest thing about service for me is knowing that there is limited resources when I want to help even more than what is actually possible. I know that I will be faced with this conflict in South Africa as well but I am excited just to have the opportunity to travel to South Africa on this service-learning trip. I know that everything we are learning about in our preparation course will help me to better understand the culture and people of South Africa along with my eagerness to learn and love for children will make me a more engaged participant. I ultimately hope to build a partnership and relationship with the people, specifically the children of South Africa, and learn more about the issues and problems they face so I can continue to help them into the future.
Lauren "Mdu" Clapp
Human Service Studies Major/Non-Violence Studies Minor
Class of 2013
Before I came to Elon I had never really participated in service work, however, it has quickly become something I’m extremely passionate about. Fall semester of my freshman year, one a whim, I took a course titled “Introduction to Human Service Studies”. This course is a service learning course, and in order to pass I was required to complete 40 hours of community service at a local organization during the semester. The service site I was placed at was Crossroads, a sexual assault resource center for Alamance County. Over the course of the semester I spent a lot of time with the organization, volunteering 24 hours a month on a crisis line and participating in various community education events. I really enjoyed and became invested in the work I was doing. As the semester ended, I decided to continue to volunteer at Crossroads for the rest of the academic year. My work in my Intro class introduced me to the Kernodle Center at Elon, and I’ve been involved with Elon Volunteers and service work here ever since. Fall and spring of last year I participated in Elon Academy’s Book Jam program, where once a month I helped lead a book discussion with a small group of Elon Academy students- high school students in Alamance county who were to be first generation college students. I also became involved in Lunch Buddies, a program where Elon students travel to a local elementary school to eat a weekly lunch with a child. I loved my experience with this program so much that I decided to coordinate the organization this year, to ensure that it stays strong at Elon. Finally, last Fake Break I traveled to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, as a participant on an Alternative Break through the Kernodle Center. In Mississippi I performed construction work to help various members of Long Beach, Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi rebuild their homes and continue to recover from Hurricane Katrina. This experience was one of the most affecting that I’ve had at Elon. As a result of the great number and great diversity of service opportunities I’ve had in the past year and the influence they’ve had on my life and my Elon experience, I decided declare a Human Service Studies major. I hope to turn my love of service into a professional career after graduation.
For me, service in its broadest definition means helping those who do not have what I do. Many times in my life I’ve felt very guilty knowing that I have had such a privileged and comfortable upbringing, while there were others so much less fortunate than me. It may sound cliché, but I think that helping others makes my life more meaningful. As the famous South African Desmond Tutu said, “my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together”. It should be every person’s moral obligation to help others. Giving back is incredibly rewarding for me, and I have gained a lot from it. One of the most important things I’ve gained from my experiences is perspective. Because I’ve seen so many different lifestyles, I think I bring a unique viewpoint to matters at hand. I believe it is impossible to completely understand another’s circumstances, however, because of my service experiences I believe I’m more capable of meeting others where they are.In addition to a Human Service Studies major, I am a minor in Non-Violence Studies. I’m very interested in helping prevent domestic violence, specifically violence against women, at home and abroad. My interest in this issue lies in my initial exposure to service and while volunteering at Crossroads. Through my interactions with Crossroads clients, I realized that domestic violence is a problem any person can be faced with, regardless of their social or economic situation. Anyone can be a victim, however, with early intervention and appropriate services this does not have to be. Community education and organization are steps that can be taken to empower victims of domestic violence and promote social change.
As explained above, in my past year at Elon I’ve had many service opportunities, and each one was very unique. When I was in Mississippi, I was exposed to a way of life that I had been sheltered from previously There, I saw the most extreme poverty that I have been exposed to in my life. I saw families who couldn’t afford to live in a home bigger than a trailer or mobile home. People who had lost everything they owned suddenly, in the storm, or for whom the hurricane was nothing more but another blow in an already difficult and trying life. For me, my experiences in Mississippi really struck a chord with me. I saw economic injustices and inequality there unlike anything I had previously encountered. This dissonance further confirmed in me my desire to help people. Effective communication is necessary to be a useful helper. I think that this is a skill that I am good at naturally, however there is always room for improvement, especially since I want to help others professionally after I graduate. The best way to improve this skill is to get as much hands on practice and experience as I can. I am currently enrolled in Counseling Individuals and Families at Elon, which is teaching me how to better listen to, talk to and reflect upon what others are communicating. Next year when I look for a Practicum placement I will look for an agency where I can utilize the skills I’ve learned in class, thus preparing myself for the helping profession after graduation. After graduation it is my dream to work abroad for some kind of non-profit or non-governmental organization, possibly as a social worker. My internship during The Call of South Africa is at the Philani Project, an NGO focused on female empowerment and child nutrition. This is perfect for me! First and foremost, I’m looking forward to opportunity to volunteer abroad, in such a unique setting as Cape Town, South Africa. However, my work at Philani will give me exposure to the kind of work I hope to be doing with a Human Service Studies degree. I am very much looking forward to working with and interacting with the women at Philani, hearing their stories, their perspectives, their hopes and their dreams.
Haley "Mpho" Cooper
Class of 2011
My experience with service and volunteer work started when my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and died shortly there after. That experience sparked my inspiration to begin working to raise money for cancer research. These efforts were made primarily through “Relay for Life,” which is an all night event where people walk around a track to celebrate cancer survivorship, honor those who have lost their fight against cancer, and to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I started the first student-led Relay for Life team in my county, which successfully raised over $10,000 and was named “Rookie Team of the Year.” I participated in the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Pageant system, and promoted my platform of “T.I.C. T.A.C. – Teens In Charge, Taking Aim at Cancer” which encouraged other teenagers to get involved in finding a cure for cancer as well as cancer prevention. Since I have been in college, my focus has shifted more towards children who have life threatening illnesses. I have been actively involved with my sorority’s philanthropy and “Elonthon,” which both support the Children’s Miracle Network. Currently, I dedicate a lot of my time to the “Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern North Carolina,” which works to grant wishes of children who have a life threatening condition. All of these experiences have been very rewarding in that I feel like I have been able to partner with these organizations to promote their cause all the while feeling as if I am honoring the memory of my grandfather.
Through my various experiences, I have learned to mold myself to most effectively perform whatever role is necessary while involved in a service experience. I have experience leading, following, and observing in different service experiences. I am willing to do whatever is necessary to make myself most useful, and will presume whatever role is necessary in completing that task. I am also have a positive outlook and keep a smile on my face, all the while being as productive as possible. I pay close attention to detail and always put my full effort into my work. I thrive in more organized environments, but can also function when things do not go as planned. As reflected in my previous working, I am most passionate about working with those who have life-threatening conditions specifically those whom struggle with cancer. I sometimes struggle separating myself from the situations that I am involved with, and have a problem letting the effort constantly consume my thoughts. It is hard for me to put my work down at the end of the day when I know there is still work to be done, even if it is a continuous effort that never has a definitive end. I have to actively acknowledge this issue, and remind myself that I can have to be able to separate myself from my service work in order to be able to give it my all and avoid burnout. Sometimes I am also not as culturally aware or sensitive enough when interacting with those whom have a different background than I do. The way I intend to counter balance this is to be aware of the differences and to whole-heartedly seek to educate myself about the culture. With this new knowledge, I hope to be able to immerse myself within the culture as deeply as possible, while still knowing that there are limitations and acknowledging our differences. I hope to be able to contribute all that I can to this experience I am going to have in South Africa. I hope that I can contribute all of the skills I have acquired in previous service work in the United States, and apply it to a country on the other side of the world. I hope to learn a deeper understanding of what it means to serve, and the broader feeling of connectedness to the world and the human experience. I hope to be taken out of my comfort zone, and truly be inspired to be the change I wish to see in the world.
Patrick "Umi" Cunningham
Class of 2012
Glen Cove, NY
My name is Patrick Cunningham and I am a junior from Glen Cove, New York. I am a Psychology major with Leadership and Religious Studies minors. While in South Africa, I plan on partnering with the Bonnytoun Place of Safety, which is a juvenile detention center for teenage boys convicted of serious crimes. Service has always been something that I have participated in, even at a young age. Looking back, I would say that it has always been a passion of mine. However, I will admit that for most of my life I had a warped view on service and its purposes. In high school I participated in a number of service events through various groups and organizations. I recall going to the local senior center numerous times a year for various events and through various organizations. We would serve food at some of their large functions as well as sit and talk with some of the seniors. My favorite yearly service event at the senior center was when our jazz band would go to perform for the “Inter-Generational Ball”. We had a great time playing music for them and watching them dance. However, looking back on these service events I realize that I approached them with the wrong mindset. Mostly, I was helping with these service events to build my résumé or to gain some sort of praise or award. Even when I had a more positive frame of mind and was excited to serve others, my motivations were primarily arrogant. I was going to these events to help others; people who I thought needed my help or knowledge. Basically I viewed myself as the person that had a lot to give and the people that I was serving as people with a lot of need. This mentality began to change after I went on a mission trip with my youth group in the summer prior my senior year in high school. I went with an organization called Mission Discovery to the city of Nassau in the Bahamas to help build houses and provide day care for the children in the area. This experience began to shift my views on service because of the knowledge that I gained. My interactions with the people we were serving provided for rich dialogue on faith, culture, and poverty. This service opportunity was as much about my own education as it was about helping to build a home. My views on service were shattered. In the end, I was the one who gained from the experience and I began to understand how much I could learn from others, especially those whom society dejects.
My first semester at Elon continued this major life lesson through my Global Experiences class with Professor Bob Anderson. In the class we learned of the importance of cultural relativism and investigating and experiencing others’ cultures while leaving our own cultural biases at the door. This way of thinking is a new passion of mine and I try to carry it with me wherever I go. I am excited to travel to South Africa and learn from my service partner while applying the things I am learning in my classes to my experiences abroad. However, I realize that before I go abroad I must continue to call into question my own biases and preconceived notions, especially those pertaining to racial tensions and the proper way to reconciliation. Hopefully, the movie screenings and assigned readings prior to our departure will help with this. I am extremely excited to go abroad and work closely with local South Africans. In particular, I hope to witness and experience the social realities faced by the poor of South Africa. I am particularly interested in areas of social psychology that pertain to criminal behavior and hope that my service learning partnership provides insight into the way these social realities impact criminal behavior. However, I will certainly not limit my focus to these expectations and am excited to learn anything and everything that I can. In general, I view myself as a natural, quiet leader and a self-starter who is willing and excited to sit back and listen to others. My passion for learning is what typically drives me and my open-minded spirit helps me to make the most out of almost any situation. Hopefully, this passion for learning will inspire others in our class to challenge themselves as well.
Kristen "Alakhe" DelForge
Class of 2011
I love it here at Elon. I never really envisioned myself studying abroad, much less in South Africa. I have always wanted to go to law school, and I thought that studying abroad would not fit into that mold. I am glad that I have this opportunity, and look forward to spending Winter Term in South Africa. The service-learning component to the course is one of the reasons I decided to apply. All too often, people become lost in the rush of life, and forget about the importance of service. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems easier to go about our busy lives than be troubled trying to help others. While I have not had an extensive community service record, I have done some volunteering. My hope is that through the course of the South Africa experience; I can reintroduce myself to the love of service that I have forgotten during my four busy years at Elon. My service history really starts in high school when I volunteered as an environmental educator for my neighborhood. The “Block Leader” program is a program that my mother started in Cary, NC. I became involved through her. Mainly, I educated my neighbors about environmental issues, and gave my time during monthly meetings to field their questions. Also, during my high school years, I participated in Tae Kwon Do. I am a third degree black belt. For my job, I taught classes and gave private lessons, but I also volunteered many Saturdays to conduct women’s self defense courses. It is of extreme importance to me that people, especially women, feel confident to defend themselves in any type of situation.
My interest in women’s self defense is what attracted me to the Sorority Alpha Chi Omega at Elon. Our philanthropy is supporting victims of domestic violence, and we work directly with Family Abuse Services in Burlington. Since it is difficult to train over one hundred women on how to deal with battered women, our contributions are mostly monetary and things like soap, washcloths, towels and other practical items the women need. Also, the organization participates in Christmas Cheer, during which we “adopt” families from Family Abuse Services with children and provide Christmas gifts for them. I am involved in all of these projects. Additionally, my global class freshman year was a service learning class and I really enjoyed my time working at the Positive Attitude Youth Center. It is difficult to express why I have volunteered where I have and why I have not volunteered more, however, the best way I think to describe it is, I have a passion for the law and anything surrounding the field. This may seem out of the ordinary, however, in my quest to become the best lawyer I can be, I like to learn about ALL aspects of the law. For example, I have learned a tremendous amount about domestic violence and domestic violence related situations from my high school experience in Tae Kwon Do and through my sorority’s philanthropy. This is certainly a legal issue. Also, many of the children I worked with at Positive Attitude Youth Center had a parent or relative that was incarcerated. I have seen firsthand the effects of incarceration on children. When I am a prosecutor, I will not be ignorant as to the needs and issues that arise as a result of my recommendation for sentencing to a judge. After completing service projects I feel extremely fulfilled. Not everyone has had the opportunities in life that I have and it is refreshing to help and learn from others, no matter their situation. Through my experiences, I have gained more respect for others struggles. For example, it is all well and good to buy children extra toys for Christmas Cheer; however, it would be more beneficial to cut the mothers a check with the extra money to help with bills. Bottom line, a child with an extra toy is not going to be helped if they do not have lights. This realization was a hard pill to swallow. In the mind of a typical middle class individual, struggling to pay bills is a foreign concept. Understanding a non-“middle class” mindset has been a point of dissonance for me throughout my service experience. It is hard to think of a ten year old with more “real world” experience than myself, or a woman who cannot find work, or pay bills because her husband never allowed her to go to college. In my “middle class” mindset that ten year old should more sheltered by their parents and that woman should have never gotten involved with an abusive man. However, it is not as cut and dry, nor as easy as it sounds. I have always struggled to put myself in someone else’s mindset. That is not to say however, that I do not bring skills to my service projects. I can effectively find a balance between being a leader and knowing when to back down. It is not hard for me to assume a leadership role and it is also easy for me to sit back and let someone else take the reins. This has served me well in my service experience.
One skill that I hope to acquire on the South Africa trip that I can carry into my future service is the ability to look beyond what my opinion is, and understand the struggles of others. Additionally, I would like to acquire skills such as being savvier about the struggles of minorities. It is difficult for me to understand how racism has persisted throughout history and its every day effects. I hope that seeing firsthand the results of the Apartheid struggle will help me translate the struggles of the African- American community in the United States. I know that my contribution to service learning such as my ability to both lead and follow, my calm and clear headed way of thinking even in tense situations will serve me well in South Africa, but also I know that the South Africa experience will help me gain some of the skills that I struggle with in terms of service.
Whitney "Hleka" Engelke
Class of 2011
I have been involved in service organizations and activities since high school. My first main service activity was called “Girl Power.” Despite its name, “Girl Power” is dedicated to helping boys and girls in impoverished areas find positive uses with their times, like playing sports. When I came to Elon I knew that I wanted to continue my involvement in service organizations so I applied and was accepted to the 2011 class of Periclean Scholars. Periclean Scholars is a comprehensive civic engagement and social responsibility program that seeks to harness the strength and resources of the Elon University community in responding to the needs of society. Our 2011 class chose to work in Sri Lanka where we decided to focus on grass roots green initiatives in schools and local businesses. I also am involved in service activities for my sorority, whose philanthropy is Children’s Miracle Network. I think a main reason why I involve myself with service activities is because of the things I learned in my freshman year global class. It is important for everyone to realize that there are people in our neighborhoods, nation, and planet that cannot access the basic necessities they need to survive, let alone the many luxuries that we all have. I don’t think it is necessarily fair for people to say that they are doing service activities strictly for the benefit of others, because they will always come away with a feeling of accomplishment and happiness in helping someone less fortunate. I think a great reason to partake in service activities is to increase your knowledge of other people, if everyone knew just a little something about different cultures than maybe it wouldn’t be so difficult for different groups to get along. I wouldn’t say that I like to always assume a leadership position, sometimes it is important to step up and take charge, and other times it’s better to sit back and let someone else lead the way. As a leader I think it is important to listen to everyone’s opinions and make decisions that will best affect a group as a whole.
I don’t know that I have really experienced any acts of dissonance in my involvement in service work, but I think there is always a difference in levels of awareness among differing individuals. I think that I can study all sorts of aspects of South African culture, but it won’t be the same awareness that I experience when I am actually there. I plan on doing my research on aspects of South Africa that will be relevant to my work with the Christine Revell Children’s Home, in hopes that this will help prepare me for the time I will spend there, but I cannot make a definite plan for achieving my goals until I am placed in the situation. This will be my second winter term course that is abroad, and I wish that I wasn’t graduating so that I could do more. I view these courses in a similar way to how I view internships. The experience and knowledge that I gain, isn’t as pertinent until I am immersed in the work and culture of a country, or company in the case of an internship. I hope to learn everything I possibly can from the Call of South Africa program, and I hope that my individual experiences and opinions will make a significant contribution to this experience.
Alexandra "Emem" Feldman
Strategic Communications and Non-Violent Studies
Class of 2012
I developed a passion for community service at a young age, and wanted desperately to take action. This desire led me to start a service organization while I was in high school, called Compassion Into Action (CIA). The club’s mission was to spread awareness for various causes and plan charity events to raise money and support for people and places in need. We were able to raise thousands of dollars for causes such as Hurricane Katrina victims, Tsunami victims and provided school supplies and computers to a suffering school in Peru. I have also participated in various charity events and fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network, specifically at Duke’s Children’s Hospital, through my Greek organization on campus.In high school I traveled to Costa Rica on a service immersion trip. While in Costa Rica I was able to travel throughout the country and did many kinds of service work from helping wildlife in the Monteverde cloud rainforest, to helping build an elementary school in a small village outside of San Isidro. This service work in particular embodies why I think I have fallen in love with it so much. It is so rewarding to be able to see the positive impact you can have on others while learning from them while you yourself are taking just as much away from the new relationship.
My interest in organizations such as this led me to declare my minor as Non-Violent Studies here at Elon. Ever since then my interest in service work and desire to be involved has only increased. These courses, along with my passion for service work, have provided me with a versatile and useful skill set. My seminar course was focused on community organizing, this has taught me how to not only lead groups of people but how to teach them to help themselves, providing a lasting and life changing impact in a community. I have also taken courses on individual and group counseling and social policy, both of which have given me great insight to the variety of ways people can help those in need. I enjoy service work in all types of demographics and locations but have found myself more drawn to poor, small communities and children. I distinctly remember a moment in Costa Rica when I was living in my home stay. My “mother” had greeted us with the most delicious Pineapple we had ever tasted. From then on, every time she went to the market when she asked us if we need anything we would always ask for more. After about a week she got a really sad look on her face and told us she couldn’t buy it anymore because it was getting so expensive. We felt so horribly for the way we had been acting. It has never occurred to us that something as basic as a piece of fruit was considered a luxury. From then on we made a huge effort to help with all of the groceries and be more cautious over how we acted and spoke amongst our family and members of the community. During the course, I hope to gain a greater knowledge of the health and medical aspects of service work. I do not have a lot of experience with actual aid of people who have been through disaster or are injured in a first hand manner. I think being around these people in need will be very eye opening and a great learning experience. I hope to work with a program while I am in South Africa that deals with this. I am excited to learn about not only my placement and the people I work with, but what my classmates are experiencing as well. I hope we can all discuss and learn from each other both our past service learning experiences and our experience while we are abroad together.
Jessica "Ataky Kisseng" Frederick
Major: Marketing, Minor: Psychology
Class of 2011
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Giving back has always been an important to my family, so in many ways I have always participated in some type of service. My high school also really encouraged students to volunteer at the school, in our community, and in areas that were unfamiliar. As a result I decided to volunteer during my junior and senior year at the Hospitality House of Charlotte, a home for those who are receiving treatment over a long period and need a place to stay for the duration. It was here that I first began to understand what it meant to help others and how even the smallest gestures can make a person’s day. I focused on things that would make the patient and his or her family more at ease such as cooking dinners, cleaning the home, collecting toys and treats for small children, and simply being someone who would listen. The experiences I had at the Hospitality House instilled the value of service and pushed me to continue to seek out service opportunities at Elon. While at school I have volunteered at the Pet Adoption Center and Lunch Buddy programs, assisted in a bilingual elementary school classroom with an incredible group of fourth grade students, and participated in various walks and fundraisers to raise money for Arthritis and ALS research with my sorority. When I first began volunteering, it was mainly to fulfill requirements at school or to appease my parents, but working at the Hospitality House of Charlotte transformed service something that I value and enjoy doing. In fact, a scholarship was created by the Hospitality House of Charlotte and I was fortunate enough to receive the first award. Doing service does make me feel positive afterward and I hope that this course can help me examine the other sides of volunteerism. I truly enjoy working with children and am excited to have the opportunity to interact with children in South Africa, especially while volunteering at the Ubuntu Sorts Outreach Program. I tend to be more of a quiet leader, preferring to listen and interact than to be in charge, but I always rise to any challenges I may encounter. One such instance occurred while I was volunteering in a bilingual classroom in Burlington. Although I have taken Spanish for many years, I had a very humbling experience realizing that I am nowhere near fluent in the language. The classroom provided a challenging yet exhilarating experience; nothing made me happier than seeing the fourth grade students learn a new math technique or proudly read me their latest writing sample. I learned so much about the importance of patience and an open mind, two things which I feel will help me while studying in South Africa. One area in which I still need to grow is to further learn how to best interact in situations or with individuals with which I am unfamiliar. I hope to do this by challenging my comfort zone and exploring places and friendships that I have failed to consider in the past. I hope to be both a positive and engaged student and an empathetic and patient cohort, while learning more about the culture, traditions, and history of South Africa both while at Elon and abroad. I look forward to the opportunities to grow as a global citizen and am excitedly anticipating January term.
Allaire "Amu Kelani" Guralnik
Strategic Communications major, International Studies minor
Class of 2011
Chevy Chase, MD
Throughout my whole life I have been constantly taught and reminded of the importance of giving back to others and to the environment. As a daughter of a Jewish father and Quaker mother, my family has always been involved in volunteer work and social action. I have always been taught to be accepting and generous to others, and from that I have developed a passion for service and volunteer work. While at Elon, I have taken several service-learning courses that I have really enjoyed. I have also participated in many philanthropy events for my sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, in the local community and for our nationally supported philanthropy that supports play therapy for terminally ill children. Additionally, I have been involved in the Isabella Canon Leadership Program, which promotes leadership and service among students. I first became involved in service at a young age when my mom and I helped to tutor an immigrant Russian family in English. This experience opened my eyes to some of the difficult struggles of others and made me truly appreciate all the opportunities I have been given. Later on in high school I continued on with several different types of service, either with my family, for school assignments, community service hours and sometimes just for fun with my friends. The most rewarding service I have done to date was when I participated in a leadership program during my junior year. For our main project, some of my peers and I decided we would create and implement a physical education and nutrition program for a low-budget summer camp in southeast Washington, DC. Some days were definitely tough and forced me to leave my comfort zones, but I left the camp each day with a feeling of joy and satisfaction that I was able to be such a positive influence in these children’s lives. My brief work with children and health education has prepared me and made me very excited to work with the Philani Nutrition Project in while I am in South Africa.
I believe that I contain an ideal mix of leadership and perceptiveness that will be ideal for our large group of well-spoken and socially aware students. When working in a group, I have a voice and can show strong, democratic leadership, but I also try to stay aware of my role in the group as a whole. I am vocal and I am able to get my message across while simultaneously listening and taking into account the desires of the group to find a fair solution. I have always been passionate towards helping children, but in hindsight I also learn the most from helping the elderly and learning about their lives and opinions. Working with demographics that are least like myself challenge me and make me step outside my comfort zone, so I always enjoy examining my reactions from these types of situations. I believe I am a very flexible and accepting person so I can work well with any demographic and still succeed. An incident of “dissonance” occurred last year when I was paired with the Special Olympics for a service-learning course. The Spring Games for the Special Olympics was to be a huge event with many participants and volunteers, but when I arrived to help out the event was slightly chaotic and unorganized. It really frustrated me that there were dozens of students there to help but had no direction on how to do so. I joined another volunteer with her athlete participant but felt frustrated and discouraged the entire time that I couldn’t do more. There was not much I could do at the time, but for the future I gave the regional coordinator whom I was working with some feedback and tips for next year’s event. From this situation, I have learned about myself that I get very frustrated when I am in a situation with absolutely no control over an outcome that affects others. I also realize from situations like this the true importance and need for good communication. In regards to my approach to service, I am naturally a problem solver and a flexible person but it would help me to learn a little more patience for some situations. I realize many service opportunities in my future will be disorganized and will involve factors out of my control, so I will plan to remind myself to be tolerant of undesirable situations. I am honored and very excited to be a part of the Call of South Africa program. I hope to contribute time towards fundraising before we depart so that we can arrive bearing all the tools we need for a successful visit. I also hope to gain enough knowledge about the people; culture and history so I can contribute educated and thought provoking dialogue in my interactions with the South African people. While I will probably gain more from this experience than I will be able to contribute, I am very excited to see how I can make a difference to my peers and to the people of South Africa with my knowledge and service.
Page "Mashudu" Hall
Class of 2011
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Both in high school and here at Elon I have been involved in many service and volunteer projects. My high school had a required service hours program in which students had to complete a required number of service hours leading up to a100 hour requirement for our senior year. I enjoyed working with others so much that I ended up tallying 250 hours my senior year. In high school I was very active in the Church World Service’s CROP Walk for Hunger. This organization raises money and canned goods to help eradicate hunger and poverty both around the world and within our community. For this I raised over $200 personally each year and within a team was able to raise and donate $1000 to the organization as well as donate countless canned goods. There is also a 10k in downtown Charlotte that draws crowds of hundreds of thousands of walkers and even more onlookers who come out to support the cause. My mother started the first Charlotte Children’s CROP Walk so that younger children could participate as well. The kids walked one mile and finished up with a “poor man’s supper” of beans and rice to really hit home with young ones what little some have to eat. For this I participated in every aspect from cooking, cleaning up, leading the children, and providing and working water stations. I was also involved in Habitat for Humanity. Our church was responsible for building an entire street of houses for this organization in which I had hands on experience with putting houses together literally nail by nail, painting, and landscaping. This was such a rewarding experience for so many reasons but the most heartwarming part was interacting with the families and people for whom we were building the houses. They were beyond grateful and overwhelmed with such joy; so many kept saying how we were changing their entire lives with these projects. The children were excited for a different reason because for the first time they would not only get to live in a house but a house of their own. Similarly, on several missions trips I attended in which we would rebuild houses in impoverished areas or provide disaster relief this would be the response of many others as well. It surprised me how so many people who have been beaten, raped, impoverished, through hell and back can still accept help from others and be so positive and welcoming to complete strangers and have hope for a better future just because we were there to help. This is what inspired me to continue to help and volunteer with organizations such as Red Cross, Room at the Inn, Charlotte Presbytery, local nursing homes and with Zeta Tau Alpha’s philanthropy Breast Cancer Awareness and Education.
From the organizations I have been able to work with I have learned to do things I never thought I would be capable. I was surprised to see how quickly I learned to work with my hands on construction sites and pick up general building skills as well as rally support in my community. A particular moment of dissonance I remember was on a mission trip in Tennessee. I was in a group of people who were rebuilding and repairing a lady’s house; the lady was unable to get around easily and was living in a small trailer. We learned that the lady had a daughter and son and her daughter had just given birth to a child and her boyfriend had come to live with her. We all wanted to help out in some way but we had absolutely no money left to spend, we felt really helpless. I decided we needed to help out with baby supplies and help improve the young mother’s room somehow so I pulled together some of my own money and was able to convince others in my group to do so as well. The young mother was so appreciative and surprised; it was well worth the extra money spent. I typically fall into a leadership or co-leadership position, but I enjoy others’ feedback and opinions since I am obviously not perfect and the decisions and ideas of other people can always be helpful and only benefit the group. I particularly enjoy working with children regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic standing but I enjoy helping anyone whether it be women, men, the elderly, or children. I would really like to submerge myself in the South African culture to learn more about it and understand a way of life so different from my own. I believe studying the culture and particularly the racial issues prior to leaving for South Africa I will gain a firmer grasp on the opinions and beliefs of the South African peoples. This will undoubtedly affect how the people view me not only as a visitor but a white person. With this knowledge I will better relate and be able to talk to people we are helping. I believe going to South Africa and helping with this program will open my eyes to a different way of life and what freedoms and items we take so for granted here; not just what we know we take for granted but the smaller things we miss day to day. I hope to not only help buy uniforms and school supplies but to also inspire and improve the literacy skills of the young children and parents so that they can self-educate through books and to hopefully feel empowered with this knowledge. I am opening up myself to this experience with the hope that the South African people will teach me as well.
Anna "Abikanile" Hartman
Human Service Studies Major
Class of 2013
Home Town: Atlanta, GA
Community service is extremely important to me; my past service experiences have motivated me to work in a non-profit setting professionally. I started my community work starting in eighth grade and throughout high school at a children’s shelter in my neighborhood called The Frazshier Center. The center was free daycare for working mothers who couldn’t afford to send their children to primary school. I would also work in Atlanta community gardens, where I would compost, paint, weed, and harvest in urban neighborhood gardens designed to bring communities together. My junior and senior years of year of high school I worked in the Alzheimer’s Ward of a nursing home called Sunrise. Also my senior year, I trained and then worked with autistic children, basically providing private care for families while they ran errands or worked; I worked with a child who was 6 years old. Last semester, because of my major, I worked at the Cottage at Blakey Hall where I again assisted people with Alzheimer’s disease. This semester, because of a class, I go with my classmates to schools in the Burlington area to give talks about violence prevention to ninth graders. I started volunteering because I went to a school that encouraged and praised community involvement. I ended up really enjoying the work; I really felt that making a difference was important. It was a way for me to feel like I could have a tangible effect on the world around me. I especially enjoyed working with elders, because they are a population most often forgotten. I got positive feedback from family members and nurses I encountered at the nursing homes, who stressed that the most important act of helping is simply empathizing with Alzheimer’s sufferers.
I think that during this course my most useful skill will be my ability to keep an open mind. It is so imperative when working in volunteer settings that you be able to think outside the box, and be able to change adapt. I know from my past work to not have many expectations, because often you are forced to think on your feet. I think I’m a better in one-on-one settings; I tend to be awkward in front of larger groups. In terms of the type of people I work best with, I would say the elderly, because of my past experience, and children. In working with others, I’ve found that one of my problems is my inability to separate myself sometimes from my work. I invest myself in the problems of the people I work with sometimes and because of that, community service can be very emotional draining for me. When I worked at Sunrise Elderly Home, I had an experience where one of the women I worked with most accused me of stealing from her. Even though I knew she was just confused, I took it very personally because we had been close before the incident. In the future, I hope that I learn better how to focus on others, and leave my own feelings at home, otherwise I can’t be helpful to anyone I’m working with. As the semester goes by, I hope to learn better how to be a leader in front of large groups of people. I usually have trouble controlling large groups of kids, or entertaining groups of adults. One of the experiences that should help me combat this is my experience mentoring in violence prevention at high schools in the area. For the program, we have to stand in front of big groups of ninth graders and talk about difficult subjects like rape and abuse. I’m confident that by the end of term, I will be less afraid to be a leader in any situation.I hope that going to South Africa will allow me to step outside my box, to learn from my classmates and the South African community about issues I’ve never encountered before. Working with adult and populations will be extremely new and difficult for me because I’ve only worked with children and the elderly. I also hope to gain new perspectives about service from being in a foreign country. I hope this course will help me grow as a person and as a helper, but I fully expect to be knocked on my feet first.
Casey "Thando" Hekker
Strategic Communications, Minor-Spanish
Class of 2011
In Darien, we were given many chances to give back to our community, and I feel very lucky that I was given the opportunities to get me to where I am today. Throughout my career at Elon, I have participated in various community service programs and events. I am a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, and am able to find many volunteer opportunities associated to with Tri Sigma. Within Tri Sigma, our philanthropy is the Robbie Page Memorial, which provides play therapy for hospitalized children. We hold events during the school year to raise money and awareness for our philanthropy. I have also spent time volunteering at elementary school events in the town of Burlington, as well as tutoring in a fifth grade class in Burlington. In high school, I served on the student governing board of the The Depot, the Darien teen center. We led many community service events and it helped me to realize how important service is to our society. In high school, I participated in service work because it seemed like the right thing to do. I enjoy helping others, and was grateful that I carried those ideals onto college with me. I will admit that some of the service hours I do are required by my sorority, or were required in high school, but the feeling I got from helping others made me want to continue, even after my hours were complete. When I participate in community service or volunteer work, I usually assume a leadership position, or a co-leadership position. I am vocal about my thoughts, and feel that I am successful when conveying my ideas and views to others. I like to hear from everyone involved, and I believe it is very important for everyone to give their input instead of waiting for tasks to be brought to them. I love working with children, whether it be through teaching, playing sports, or simply being their friend, and that is why I am very excited to start at Ubuntu Sports Outreach in South Africa.
One incident of “dissonance” that I remember was when volunteering at a Halloween fair in Burlington. I went with a small group of friends on a Friday night, and upon arrival, we were never given any directions. Nobody knew what we were supposed to be helping with, and we were sent from one person to the next. They eventually sent us home because of a communication error in which they had too many volunteers, so I believe that communication is key so that there is no confusion. As I prepare to leave for South Africa, I will need to gain a lot more knowledge of South Africa as a whole. I will be spending a lot of time with the children there, and I want to get to know about their culture and their home lives. I am not sure what to expect, but am looking forward to it. During my participation in the Call of South Africa program, I hope to make a difference in somebody’s life, whether it is just one person or a few of the boys at the Sports Outreach. I know that they will be able to teach just as much, or more to me than I will be able to teach them, and I am eager to find out. This will be my third study abroad program while at Elon (two WT, one semester) and I have had eye-opening experiences all over the world. I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world, and I know that my experiences with different cultures will help me gain a different perspective of life in South Africa.
Alyssa "Ilham" Iacono
Music, International Studies
Class of 2013
Throughout high school I was involved with a couple of different service projects. Through the outreach program at my local church I worked with a team to finish the interior of a home with Habitat for Humanity. I have also volunteered to cook lunch for a local after school and summer program for children called B-SAFE that serves as a safe and supportive environment for children who might otherwise be drawn into violence and gang activity. The service program that I have the most involvement in is El Hogar Ministries. Located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, El Hogar is a system of schools that provides a home and education to impoverished children in an effort to improve their quality of life. I have worked with this program by participating in local fundraisers as well as by traveling to the schools in Honduras to assist in the classrooms and work on construction projects. From my time volunteering I have learned a lot about myself as well as others. Volunteering has changed my outlook and made me focus on the big picture more often in life. I have also learned to appreciate what I have, because I often find that the people I work with are so happy with so little in their lives.
I have found that people from different cultures often approach an issue in different ways. For example while building in Honduras I was surprised to find that all construction was done by hand. At first it seems like the workers could be more productive, but when you consider the surroundings and resources it is not feasible or cost efficient to try and bring in heavy machinery. I have learned to be open to whatever strategy is put forth and found that it is important to help without trying to impose any personal ideals. There are numerous ways to execute a project and no one particular way is more right than another, it simply depends on which will be most practical. While participating in service I tend to lead by example. I am not especially vocal, but I am willing to do anything in order to reach the common goal that is set. I like working with a group. I also enjoy when I am able to interact with the people that I am helping to get a good understanding of how the group's work is impacting them. I also like to work with groups that are in some way different from me because I find it interesting to learn about different cultures and lifestyles. Even though I am giving up some of my time to work on specific projects, by meeting new people and having new experiences I always feel like I take so much with me each time I volunteer. One area I hope to improve on is being more flexible. I tend to get frustrated when things do not always go exactly according to plan. I think it is important for me to focus on the fact that any help makes a difference and people are always appreciative even if things do not turn out exactly how you had imagined them. By focusing on the impact that the work is having rather than how smoothly the job went will help me value the effort that goes into a project even more. While in South Africa I look forward to learning from the local people. I hope to learn more about the general structure of communities in South Africa, and what it takes to keep them running on both daily and broader levels. I am always interested in learning about traditions and hope to see how every day customs may be linked to the country's past. I am excited to work with a local service organization and help with the projects that are currently in place. I think my past experience in working with community programs will be helpful because although the settings may be different I understand the process of taking on small projects in order to ultimately benefit a large community. I am looking forward to learning more about South Africa as a whole as well as its people through my participation in service.
Human Services Studies
Class of 2011
Hometown: Cape Elizabeth, ME
One of the reasons why I became a human services major is because I have always enjoyed and had a passion for service. My philosophy with service is somewhat controversial as I am more of a believer in development. As a human services major, I have learned a lot about the pros and cons of service vs. development. In my mind development is much more valuable as it gets more to the root of a problem instead of just putting a Band-Aid on it. On the other hand, it’s still important to know that certain types of service are extremely valuable as sometimes people or organizations just need that extra pick-me-up or another helping hand. At Elon I’ve been involved in the Lunch Buddy Program as a part of Elon Volunteers (EV) and spent a semester at the Boys and Girls Club as a part of my service learning in my Introduction to Human Services class. This past winter term I also did my human services practicum with the Red Cross Piedmont Carolina Chapter. During my practicum I assisted with the Blood Services department. I have also had an internship for eight weeks in Virginia with a non-profit organization called MVLE last summer in 2009. MVLE’s mission is to “create futures one person at a time for adults with disabilities through employment and support services.” This past summer I also had the amazing opportunity to co-lead a first summer experience program for incoming freshman at Elon called “Pre-SERVE.” In this program I got to expose twelve incoming freshman to all the different volunteer opportunities that there are at Elon. We did service with agencies such as: Habitat for Humanity, The Animal Adoption Center, Kopper Top, Boys & Girls Club, Twin Lakes Retirement Community, Allied Churches, Loaves & Fishes, and Elon’s Community Garden. This was an amazing opportunity because I felt as though I served as a good leader, and also exposed students to a variety of ways to do service surrounding Elon’s campus. On the other hand, I did have one particular instance during Pre-SERVE that I will never forget. I took my group to Loaves & Fishes in Burlington which is a drive-through food bank. Unfortunately because of scheduling conflicts my group was only able to volunteer for thirty minutes. It was awkward because after everyone was finally getting into a grove of packaging food, it was time to leave. The thing that I will never forget was when the agency coordinator presented us with a huge smorgasbord of pastries and beverages after our thirty minutes of volunteering was complete. It felt extremely awkward as we felt somewhat undeserving of the snacks since we were only doing service there for a very short time. Although it helped me learn that Loaves & Fishes, along with many other non-profit charitable agencies, are very appreciative of volunteers and are adamant about showing their gratitude. While being a leader in Pre-SERVE, and in general, I feel as though I am a quiet, yet effective leader. I have the ability to take charge when appropriate and am always one to take initiative while doing service. With their busy schedules, sometimes it can be very difficult for agency coordinators to delegate work for service learners. Because of this, it is very important for service learners to take appropriate imitative and ask if there is something for them to do, or make a suggestion of something to do.
In contrast, sometimes one will feel a sense of dissonance while doing service. Personally I felt this during my internship with MVLE a little over a year ago. As an intern, one of my jobs was to interview every adult individual of the company and conduct a satisfaction interview asking them simple yes/no questions. Sometimes this was very easy as many of the individuals comprehended my questions and could easily communicate to me what they were thinking. Although this was not the case for every individual as some were nonverbal communicators. Some individuals wouldn’t even listen to me while others would just smile at me and look as though they were in a daze. This was very frustrating as I didn’t know what to do. I asked some of the workers as I got conflicting advice. Some told me that I should interpret their non-verbal communication while other suggested that I deem their survey as “n/a.” In the end I talked with my boss about it as she suggested that I not put words into the individuals’ mouths. By interpreting nonverbal language I would essentially be answering for them and violating their rights as an adult on the survey. Besides this area of dissonance, I positively experienced something life changing in my views towards people with disabilities during my internship. One day during a meeting a small group of people gave a speech on their campaign to eliminate the “r-word.” I think that many people aren’t aware of the r-word as it pertains to people with disabilities being called “retarded” or “retards.” At first being a shortened term for “mental retardation,” the “r-word” has now become slang for something stupid, crazy, ridiculous, slow, etc. It took until hearing this speech for me to realize how hurtful the r-word really was to these individuals that were speaking to me. Because of my service experience I can now say that I never use to r-word and honestly feel a sting in my body whenever I hear someone use it. After this experience I now come fully prepared to learn, grow, and possibly change after doing service. Even though I have had a lot of experience with service, I am still somewhat nervous to do service within another country. With all of my previous service related activities having been in the United States, it makes me anxious but also excited to experience an act of service in South Africa. I will definitely need to be aware of any cultural differences that will be applicable to my practices. I also hope to contribute a positive energy and an honest interest in the population that we will be working with.
Melinda "Ayize" Kunze
Class of 2012
Hometown: West Friendship, Maryland
Being assigned to evaluate my past experiences in volunteer work is a major eye-opener. I think most would agree that it’s very easy to get wrapped up in our own lives, that we do not always take moments to give our time to others, whether an organization or an individual. It may not be purposeful, but it still happens, especially in my case. This is not saying that I have not taken part in volunteer work in the past, because I have, but it has not been consistent over the years. All throughout high school, I volunteered at my church in the Sunday school program. After attending St. Camillus every Sunday since I was 6, I began volunteering as an aide. I then became a teacher my senior year of high school for a 4th grade class. Honestly, if my parents had not required me to do this, I most likely would not have continued aiding for as long as I did. It was, however, a learning experience that I appreciate looking back. I had always wanted to be a teacher since I was younger, and after taking on this role in this volunteer work, I discovered that it was not something about which I was passionate. From this volunteer work, I learned a lot about myself while also giving back to the church I grew up in. I may not have seen the benefits during that time, but I am able to look back now and realize the importance of service and how I might influence others lives. The students I taught looked up to me and I may have helped them in ways I didn’t comprehend when I was younger. My list of volunteer work is not especially impressive which I directly relate to my weakness in not branching out of my comfort zone.
Volunteering at my church was a place where I was comfortable. It was a place where I was surrounded by family and people I knew well. It was easy. I think the reason I have not continued volunteering was because it would have forced me to leave that safe place and do something unfamiliar. One positive aspect is that I have realized this about myself since attending Elon University and have been taking my first steps towards changing this by joining the Call of South Africa program. I know that I possess qualities and skills that would be beneficial to service, which was one of my motivations in seeking out this service-focused program. I have always been a diligent worker, willing to go the extra mile to achieve any goal. I will admit that I am a shy and reserved person but I am still a leader, a quiet one at that. Leaders you must also be followers and I believe I can play both roles when needed. I am able to organize and plan effectively. Having jobs with customer service in the past, I am able to work well with others and interact with people of all ages or backgrounds. I believe these traits of diligence, leadership and compassion for others will be important skills for my service endeavors. With strengths come weaknesses, and there are personal areas that I wish to improve before diving deep into the world of service. As I stated before, putting myself out there and leaving my comfort zone is one of my goals for personal growth. I also believe an increased knowledge in cultural diversity would help prepare me for the unexpected that I may experience. Finally, I think gaining confidence and believing in myself to use the skills I possess is the most important skill or aspect of my personality that needs the most improvement. Doing research and signing up for volunteer work around campus is part of my plan for achieving these goals. After evaluating my experiences, strengths and weaknesses in relation to service, I believe I am ready to comment on my hopes and expectations for the Call of South Africa program. I hope to put my whole heart into this program and to everything we experience on the journey. I hope to have some effect on the lives I help while doing service, most specifically the children we meet. I hope to form relationships and to speak with South Africans about their feelings and thoughts of everyday things. I want to learn about myself through all of this. How will I react to the culture shock or the things I may see that I had been naïve about? I want to leave South Africa with a sense of increased confidence in myself and the feeling that I did something worthy. Most importantly, I want to learn what its really like to participate in a service-learning program and how my contributions of diligence, compassion and leadership may help the lives of others.
Caroline "Busisiwe" Legin
Class of 2013
Throughout my educational career my life has always contained a service aspect. I have helped numerous organizations, most of which pertain to participating in service with children. To begin, in middle school I volunteered at the Ronald McDonald house in Cincinnati and made thanksgiving baskets for inner city families. I quickly learned at a young age to appreciate what I have and to help those who don’t; this inspired me to continue finding opportunities to serve others. I wanted to make service a larger component of my life because I enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing that something so small as volunteering my time, can make such a difference in a person’s life. Moving into high school I joined the Leo Club, which is a club that took weekly trips to an elementary school for disabled and underprivileged children. While at school I taught, fed, and played with children of all ages as well as fundraised for their educational program. I have also participated in Capernaum, which is a branch of the Young Life program for disabled children. Every Wednesday my group went to “club” and made arts and crafts, played games, and took field trips with the students. At Elon, my service to the community has continued because of the active clubs I have joined. I am a member of Habitat for Humanity and have carried out fundraisers as well as worked on the construction of several homes. Lastly, I am a member of a Greek organization, which focuses on philanthropy and helping those in need. Through my organization I have participated in Elonthon with my sisters, collected school supplies for the Maine Sea Coast Mission, and have created arts and crafts projects for the elderly at a nearby nursing home.
After analyzing my past and present service projects, it’s evident that I enjoy service with children the most. I have interacted with children nearly my whole life having thirty-nine cousins and always being involved at my school. I consider myself to be pro-active and a leader in whatever I do. When I assume leadership responsibilities, the task will be completed because I always commit to whatever I decide to take on. A point of difficulty in my experiences however, can be identified when I was volunteering for Capernaum. Some children in the program had more severe disabilities than others and I was not able to relate to them nor give the help they were looking for. I continued to try and learn from what other volunteers were doing as well as ask for assistance when dealing with certain children. I continue to do service throughout my years at Elon and beyond, I feel that increasing my knowledge in whatever I do would be extremely beneficial. I would like to expand my service opportunities to global and nationwide programs instead of just within my community. I have a strong passion for the continent of Africa and have begun working with a Non-Profit Organization, Uhuru Child in hopes of increasing my service abroad and knowledge of the people in need as well as learning about Africa. Finally, throughout participating in the Call of South Africa program I hope to gain a greater understanding on the struggles South Africa has faced. I also hope to learn how they are growing stronger and what initiatives their people have taken. I am anxious to view the different cultures in the cities we travel to, and to absorb their lifestyle in order to better understand their needs. I hope to contribute my enthusiasm and leadership when doing service in South Africa, especially with the children I meet through my internship. Overall, I hope to increase my awareness of life in South Africa through the articles we read, videos we watch, and class discussion and take what I have learned and apply it to my experience in South Africa.
Patrick "Daktiri" McLendon
Biology (Pre-Health Focus. Political Science Minor)
Class of 2012
I’ve worked extensively in both medical and non-medical volunteer fields, however my passion and career path revolve around medicine. One of the greatest experiences thus far in my life has been my involvement with Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and other emergency response organizations. Before coming to Elon, I served as an EMT in Montgomery County, MD, at one of the busiest Fire/EMS stations in the state of Maryland. Once a week, I would report to the station for a 12 hour overnight shift manning either an ambulance or paramedic unit. This unit would be dispatched by the county 911 dispatcher to any medical calls in our service area be it traumatic injury or childbirth. While the hours and calls could be both mentally and emotionally grueling, my experience as a volunteer EMT taught me a great deal about myself and represents one of the most formative experiences I’ve had to date. Personally, my experiences as an EMT were not about praise or status, but rather about the act of service to another in their time of ultimate need, and the opportunity to put training and skills into practice while preparing for a career in medicine. During my time as an EMT, I did not receive praise from my organization, and can only recall hearing the phrase “thank you” from a single patient out of the hundreds I helped treat. For me, my satisfaction came from the relative handful of calls wherein my actions made a significant difference in the life of another person. One such call involved a four year old boy who was found unconscious and unresponsive by his mother late one night. We arrived on the scene to find him in his mother’s arms in their living room – him limp as a noodle, and her in a state of utter panic. We assessed the child and found that one side of his body was completely paralyzed, and that his blood oxygen was reaching dangerously low levels. We immediately began rushing the patient, with his mother in the medic unit, to the nearest Level-1 Pediatric Emergency Department 30 minutes away. Over the course of those thirty minutes, I assisted the paramedic as he provided treatments to stabilize the child, protect his airway, and increase respiration by inducing crying in the child while providing high-flow oxygen. While assisting the paramedic, I also worked to simultaneously console the mother, who was silently panicking on the side-bench. When we arrived at the hospital, the child was breathing normally, his oxygen levels were back to normal, and he was beginning to regain function, sensation, and consciousness. Regardless of thanks or praise, the fact that we were able to stabilize that child, who was in severe danger of crashing, through our skills and actions made this perhaps one of the most rewarding and challenging calls of my time as an EMT.
Working in emergent situations creates a team environment unique to the field of emergency medicine. Because of the rapid and often chaotic nature of EMS, providers are absolutely reliant on team mates to anticipate the treatment protocol, and assist each other and perform their own tasks simultaneously. I feel most engaged in such fast-paced multifaceted situations wherein rapid recognition of situation, and deployment of training is necessary. There are however significant challenges with such a propensity to high adrenaline situations. The rapid synergy required of team members leads to a general abandonment of pleasantries, and the adaptation of simple one-word requests (eg “Scalpel!”). Because of the nature of the EMS environment, I find myself unconsciously leaping to a position of leadership if no other leaders immediately identify themselves. Once in this position, I again default to the EMS system of rapid action and expected synergy, which can lead to conflict with others unfamiliar with the system. One such event occurred while working with an EMT who was still in training. This individual was riding along with us one Thursday night and we were called out to a wreck. During the course of treating the patient’s injuries, the student EMT became offended at my and my partner’s command/requests, but did not voice their indignation until long after the call was finished. This incident taught me two extremely important lessons. First and foremost, an autocratic leadership style and rush to take charge of a situation is not effective with group members who are not expecting such a system. Secondly, what flies in the back of an ambulance may not fly during a group project back at school. In retrospect, I should have ensured that the student was comfortable and knew what was expected of them as an EMT student, and as their leader, I should have ensured that I remained fully cognizant of the chaotic nature of the call, and of how my leadership style should have changed in that situation.
Moving forward, it will be paramount for me to alter my personal style when in a leadership position. Rather than expecting rapid action and immediate synergy, I should take a step back, a deep breath, and see how a diplomatic suggestion could assist the group moving forward. Diplomacy and democracy are better tools than autocracy and demand. As of right now, I am unsure how to go about achieving this. I hope to formulate a plan over the next few weeks, possibly by analyzing the leadership styles of effective professors and adopting their most effective tactics. Ultimately this program is about contributing while learning. Over the course of the next semester, I hope to learn more about the people and history of South Africa, and quench the budding biologist in me by examining the spread of HIV/AIDS across South Africa and the effect the disease has had on her people. Acknowledging my passion for medicine, my greatest hope for this trip is to contribute in some small way to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Whether it is engaging in play therapy with an infected child, or helping to care for someone who has been ravaged by the disease, I believe that every seemingly insignificant assistive action plays a truly significant role in the life of that affected individual. I understand that it is unlikely that one student will have an appreciable effect on the global pandemic, but in going to Africa, I plan on learning about the disease that has destroyed so many lives; and in so doing, hopefully learn a bit about my own ability and desire to serve.
Jamie "Ntokozo" Milliski
Class of 2012
Accounting Major/Leadership Minor
Hometown: Hockessin, Delaware
As the youngest of three, I have looked up to my older siblings. My sister taught me the importance of volunteering. She had such a positive experience and learned so much about herself when she volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House that I decided to volunteer there as well. This experience led to joining my high school’s service club and taking on a leadership role my junior and senior year. Some of my volunteer experiences include participating in local 5Ks for different causes, planning school-wide food/clothing drives, and doing Habitat for Humanity. When I graduated high school and arrived at Elon, I became involved with service through Greek life. As a member of Sigma Kappa, I try to serve our four philanthropies: the Main Sea Coast Mission, Alzheimer’s disease, Gerontology, and Inherit the Earth. I have participated in our sorority’s philanthropy events as well as other Greek organizations’ philanthropy events. Even though I enjoy volunteering through Greek Life, I thoroughly enjoy also being a Periclean Scholar and part of a more service-learning emphasized program than just volunteerism. This past summer, I was privileged to participate in a service-learning experience as a Periclean Scholar in India with our partner, The Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP). I interacted with the Adolescent Girls Program, a woman’s empowerment program focused on breaking down gender barriers, teaching health issues, and increasing self-confidence. From these interactions, I favor being with young girls and talking about empowerment. I especially enjoyed this experience because the Indian girls were different from me and I learned from them.
Over the three week period, I learned the importance of not doing work for others or even with others, but being with them to initiate social change. With this approach, the community became more receptive of my ideas and work. However, this lesson was not learned immediately and during the first few days at CRHP, there was difficulty in communicating with the CRHP workers. So, I had to take the initiative myself, which carried more risk, but in the end, also more reward. Because of this initiative, I was recognized as the top contributor by the CRHP Director. Even though it was nice being recognized for my hard work, my motivation for service-learning does not derive from selfish reasons. Instead, my motivation is proving that a group of individuals brought together under one common goal can make a difference in the world. I have learned a few things as a result of my volunteering and service-learning experiences. For example, I have learned how I interact with people of different backgrounds, take on leadership roles, and communicate my ideas. I have learned that I do not have confidence in some of my capabilities at first, but once I accomplish a few steps towards my goals, I gain more reassurance and complete a task very confidently. This sort of quite leadership style has worked well when I am in a different environment and need some time to adopt. Nonetheless, I think as I approach service in the future, increased knowledge about the demographic and environment associated with the service would be beneficial. I plan on working on increasing prior knowledge through reading and researching multiple types of sources as well as reaching out to others who have had that same experience already. As part of the 2011 South Africa cohort, I hope to contribute my abilities to interact effectively with people of different backgrounds while at the same time learn about those people and from them. My brother is an example of someone who studied abroad in South Africa and returned a different person, one with a more global perspective and passion for creating social change. His experience led to joining the Peace Corps. I am interested in following his footsteps. I hope the South Africa program influences my personal growth just as positively as my brother.
Katherine A. "Tatenda" Nolan
Marketing Major/Communications Minor
Class of 2012
Harwich Port, MA
I have a wide range of service experience. I have worked with people directly and I have also worked in a fundraising environment. My most recent service activity includes the membership of Alpha Omicron Pi. The organization focuses on raising money for Arthritis and occasionally Diabetes, ALS, and Leukemia. AOII also participates in other organizations’ philanthropy events. Previous experience includes participating in the Pan Mass Challenge, which is a two day bike ride for supporting the Jimmy Fund. For two years, I have worked at a major water stop in the early morning. I prepared food and filled water bottles for the bikers. These service opportunities above usually included fundraising and PR goals rather than direct contact with people in need. I have also participated in service opportunities with direct contact to the people in need. All four years of high school, I was a member of the nursing home group. Every other week we took a trip to a nursing home and spent a couple hours keeping the elderly company. My senior year of high school, I spent four weeks in the Osterville Elementary School in Massachusetts as a teacher helper. I spent 120 hours inside the classroom helping students and on the playground supervising recess. I chose to participate in service work because I wanted to get involved in the community. I realized how gracious people are no matter how much of your time you’ve dedicated or what you’ve contributed. I have learned a lot about teamwork and how to keep an encouraging attitude. After every time the service work has ended, I leave with a positive feeling.
Usually every time I participate it service work, I am usually assigned tasks and told what to do. I usually work for larger organizations. I tend to favor an uplifting environment and a positive atmosphere. I have experienced one incident of “dissonance.” When I was working with a child in the elementary school, she made up a jingle that ended with her dying. She sang it frequently to me and even her other classmates. I brought it to the attention of the teacher and the teacher informed me that her parents’ divorce and the death of her cat occurred a week ago. The teacher promised to talk to her parents about her behavior in class. I felt better after addressing the situation. I have dedicated some of my time to service work, however I would like to expand on the type of work I have participated in. I would like to have more direct contact with people in need. I want to be able to help myself learn from the experience and be able to appreciate my life. In addition to working on personal growth, I want to expand my knowledge on the culture and value of life in South Africa. I want to be able to leave the country with a good feeling with the contributions I have made and I want to be able to share my experiences with friends and family. I think that the Call of South Africa program will help me accomplish these goals.
Hannah "Thabisa" Parker
Class of 2011
While I was in High School, volunteer work was a huge part of my life. The organization that I worked the closest with and spent the most time on was Best Buddies. Best Buddies is a program that pairs students in the organization with a less privileged ‘buddy.’ I was part of this club all four years of High School and was paired with the same buddy for my junior and senior year. Within the organization, we held monthly events, including movie nights, pizza dinners, and bowling nights, in which we met as a whole club and spent time together. Weekly, I would talk on the phone with my buddy and as often as I could I would meet up with her for one-on-one meetings. Being apart of this club greatly changed my outlook on volunteering. I became very close to my buddy over the few years we were paired together and I truly enjoyed spending time with her. Being apart of this organization is what led me to continue my service work in college. When I arrived at Elon University, volunteer work and service learning was a high priority to me. When I learned about the Periclean Scholars program I was immediately intrigued and was excited to take on international volunteer work in an area I was unfamiliar with. The Class of 2011’s focus country is Sri Lanka. I had very little knowledge about Sri Lanka and was very eager to learn more. I immediately learned this program was not going to be an easy task, especially because Sri Lanka was currently in a state of war. I have continued with the Periclean Scholars program throughout college and we have done tremendous amounts of fundraising for the country; such as meal swipes, carnivals, grant writing, and several other events. Every student in the program has also created a 3-year plan in which we all have focused on a specific aspect of Sri Lanka in which we would like to help. A few girls and I have been working on building and funding for a new library at the school we have connections with. We all have been gathering children’s books and are currently in contact with a Sri Lankan bookstore. Our efforts the past three years have benefitted the schools in Sri Lanka greatly and it is very satisfying knowing we have made a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
My freshman year at Elon, I also joined a sorority in which our philanthropy is the Children’s Miracle Network. As a sorority we host two philanthropy events a year as well as partake in Elon-thon and other events around campus. We hold a baseball game in the fall and a Breakfast at Tiffany’s luncheon in the spring. These two events are held each year to raise money that we send to Duke Children’s Hospital. Elon-thon is a 24-hour dance marathon that is held at Elon University each spring semester. I have participated in this event every year and was a 24-hour dancer my sophomore year. This event is extremely rewarding because many of the patients at the hospital come to Elon and speak as well as videos that are played every hour recapping the stories of many children who have passed. The events that we attend as a sorority have been very personal and made me realize how fortunate we all are. Since I have a lot of experience in volunteer work, I feel I can contribute new ideas and opportunities. I have never been one to take on a leadership role; however, I have always worked closely to those in charge. In the past, I have normally worked with the underprivileged, but I am very open to helping whoever is in need. Through Periclean Scholars, I am familiar in working with those abroad, but I have never worked directly with kids in another country. I am extremely excited to work at the Ubuntu Sports Outreach because I believe after school activities are important for kids to experience. I hope this experience will benefit the kids as well as myself and I am glad that we are able to work directly with the children we are helping. While I was in Best Buddies, there were many times that the buddies acted out of control and we had to react on the spot to the best of our ability. There were several occasions when we could not understand what the buddies needed, but I learned to act calm and tried to put myself in their shoes. Since I have some experience in working with children less fortunate then me, I believe this will benefit me while we are in South Africa. The children that we will be working with will be experiencing completely different lives then us and I am sure there will be times when we are put in difficult situations. I hope that my past experiences will benefit the group while we are abroad and I hope to learn some other tactics from some of the students on our trip. Overall, I am aware that we will be faced with many challenges, but I hope with my experience and the experiences of others that we will be able to conquer these situations in an appropriate way.
Meredith "Tumaini" Ramsey
Exercise/Sport Science Major
lass of 2012
Johnson City, TN
Service and volunteer work are both very important to me. Throughout high school, I was involved in multiple service initiatives. First, I was a member of the Beta Club, which was an academic and service organization at my high school. Through this organization, I participated in many fundraising events such as collecting money for UNICEF, an organization that raises money to provide health care, education, sanitary living conditions, and much more to children all around the world. We also held food drives for Second Harvest Food Bank that helps to provide food to those in need. In addition to my work with this organization, I also volunteered at a daycare and a hospital for one summer as well as helping coach younger children in gymnastics. During my college career thus far, I have participated in service projects through my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. I have helped in fundraising activities related to our philanthropy to raise awareness and provide support to victims of domestic violence. Additionally, I have gone to Loaves and Fishes to help pack bags of food for those in need in our local community during my nutrition class. My motivation for service comes from my passion to help others. I believe that it is important to give back to my community and to use my education and skills to help other people. I have learned many things from my service work so far such as learning to be flexible and patient when working with others particularly children. I have also learned about hardships that some people must confront that I am not directly faced with in my life. This has helped me to gain a greater understanding of issues within our society and gain a greater respect for those who must live under these conditions. I particularly like working with women and children, and it is very rewarding for me to be able to assist and do my part to help those in need. The skills that I bring to service are mainly in the health and wellness field. Seeing as how I am an exercise/sport science major, I have lots of knowledge about nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits. I am also a psychology minor, and the knowledge I have gained through this discipline certainly helps me in my dealings with people. In addition to my academic skills, I am also very organized and self motivated.
Even though service work is a rewarding process, it is not without its obstacles. One specific challenge I have had to deal with is learning to be flexible and adapt to many changing situations. To overcome this challenge, I think I must always try to put the needs of those I am working for and trying to help first. If I can do this and am open to new situations, then I can work to provide the best help to those I am serving. Furthermore, there are other areas where increased knowledge would be helpful in providing service to others, such as learning more about the populations I am serving. It is helpful to understand the lifestyle of those I am working with because this will help me to become more connected to them and increase my understanding of their current conditions. This can be done by looking into the agencies and researching the demographic populations with which I will be working. Finally, through my participation in the Call of South Africa I am hoping to increase my knowledge of the segregation issues that have plagued South Africa’s history as well as learn more about the culture and people of South Africa. I am hoping to contribute to the local community while I am studying in South Africa through my work immersion experience at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to help the children in the local schools through the service projects we will partake in. I am excited about the chance to study aboard in South Africa and learn about another culture’s past and present life while serving members of its community.
Eileen "Tsethpo" Rogan
Class of 2012
For nine years I attended Catholic school which instilled in me from a very young age that service was a way to build character and become a well-rounded person. From the fourth grade until the present I have been involved in service through school requirements, athletic fundraising, philanthropic work for my sorority and largely out of personal choice because it is something that I genuinely enjoy doing. My two largest accomplishments when it comes to service are founding my high school chapter of Habitat for Humanity and embarking on a church led service trip to Peru. The Needham High School chapter of Habitat for Humanity was founded by myself and seven other girls. Together we planned local build days in the Boston area and weeklong build trips to Lexington, Virginia and El Paso, Texas. The club grew from eight members to over 100 members and today multiple build trips are taken simultaneously to accommodate the large number of volunteers. Secondly, I went on a service trip to Peru in which we were immersed in a village that was very poor and secluded in the mountains of Colca Canyon. This village and others like it are looked down upon in Peruvian society because they are seen socially as outcasts because of their extreme poverty. For one week we lived in the village (with no running water, showers, toilets, stoves or heat) and taught English, worked in the school, played with children, did community work such as painting and gifted clothing and supplies.
In addition, other service activities I have been involved in include: I have walked the Boston Marathon route with the Jimmy Fund to remember a friend’s mother who died of breast cancer, worked with children that are mentally handicapped, tutored at the Alamance Country Boys and Girls Club, volunteered at a hospital planning their fundraising events, performed dance at retirement homes, etc. I enjoy different types of service because it is the idea that you are impacting someone, something or someplace directly that makes it worth the efforts. I also consider it an opportunity to better connect and understand other people. Something I always try to bring to my service is a positive and encouraging attitude, which hopefully helps others do the same. Depending on the situation, I can be a leader or quite follower. I am more likely to be taking part in an activity rather than leading it, however, if I feel it is necessary I do not hesitate to speak up or take charge. One moment of dissonance that I remember was that a man in our Peruvian village had recently become paralyzed from the waist down after a large potato sack fell on his back while working. He did not have a wheel chair that he needed to navigate and therefore was not able to care for himself. We met this man at the end of our stay and as a result had spent all of the money that we had raised on other projects. The group had a moment of dissonance because we didn’t have the $500 needed to buy the wheel chair. After much group discussion that we basically needed to help this man, we decided to give personal donations and within one day came up with the money needed to buy the wheel chair. Since I have a lot of experience with all different kinds of service I have the ability to adjust to a variety of different situations. This will be helpful coming into my service experience at Direct Ministries in South Africa because the community issues that they are facing may not be something that I have necessarily dealt with, but I know I can take a step back observe and step up to the task at hand. Finally, I am hoping to impact at least three lives directly while I am in South Africa. While handing out uniforms and supplies is great, material goods will eventually deteriorate. However, if you can help a child read, inspire them, work to solve hunger, those are achievements that can impact the country for years to come. At Direct Ministries I hope to learn more about the organization and am particularly excited to work there because I am very interested in learning more about psychological therapy techniques used in South Africa.
Julie "Tebogo" Ronecker
Biochemistry Major/Neuroscience Minor
Class of 2013
St. Louis, MO
Service is a crucial component of personal growth and vital factor contributing to the success of a society. My service experiences thus far have included working with children and adults in medical settings. The volunteer work I am doing is not only directly serving the community, but it is providing me with the foundation to pursue a career in medicine. The fact that I am gaining experience being with patients and physicians in a health setting while helping others is very satisfying. When children thank me for coloring with them, an elderly man recognizes my bedside company, or a family without health insurance appreciates the medical care provided to them, I see that small acts of service can indeed make a difference. Since high school, I have been working closely with the WINGS Pediatric and Palliative Care Program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I have helped organize eight fundraisers to raise money for the program, attend the Stepping Stones bereavement camp each year, and am an assistant expressive art therapist for families with children at the hospital. Working with children is a rewarding experience for me emotionally, as I learn their hopes, dreams, fears, and wishes through painting, music, and writing. At Elon, I volunteer at the Open Door Clinic, a free medical clinic for patients without medical insurance, and the Hospice Center of Alamance-Caswell County. At these locations, I am able to shadow nurse practitioners and physician assistants while providing basic palliative and medical care.
I believe that I bring enthusiasm, dedication, and my leadership skills to service. I have been given a gift to entertain and connect with children. While in Honduras for a medical mission trip, for example, I used pantomime and dancing to brighten their day and tried to connect with each child individually. I also believe that I am a reliable volunteer, showing up to do service on time with a positive attitude and open heart. Lastly, I usually fulfill a leadership role during service, and typically can gauge what work needs to be done without specific instructions. Initiative as well as collaborative skills are imperative for success within a service site. The Hospice Center of Alamance-Caswell County proves to be my most difficult and complex service site. As a healthy, young adult, I have very little experience with death and struggle to find the best way to support patients. In one particular instance, an elderly woman with brain cancer asked me my favorite hobbies. I felt uncomfortable sharing with her my passions for the outdoors, hiking, running, and playing tennis, since she herself had spent the last two years bed-ridden. I have learned to remind them of their experiences prior to their illness and hope to help them feel grateful for the time they spent healthy. Since I frequently work with children and adults in their final days, I would be interested in learning how to more effectively alleviate emotional pain and improve the quality of life for the patient and family. While I have attended three seminars on palliative care giving, I would love to attend more. I also am interested in researching the effectiveness of reading poetry, doing art, or telling stories in moments close to death. When I become rather close to patients over a few months prior to their death, it becomes particularly difficult to cope with the loss. Therefore, in order to better serve my patients, I must also formulate a better understanding of death and loss. I am thrilled to be a member of the 2011 Call to South Africa program. I believe that I will bring my leadership skills, eagerness, and love for children to the winter term class. I want to particularly learn about the health system, availability of medical care, and education system in South Africa, and I look forward to serving in an agency focused on the improvement and protection of South African youth. This experience will help me continue to explore the lessons learned through service, and how as I give to the world, I receive much in return.
Jeneva "Makena" Russell
Class of 2012
In reflecting upon my service history, I have come to realize that I am incredibly fortunate to have been given so many opportunities to serve and participate in service learning events. My home church that I have attended for nearly fifteen years has always been very dedicated to providing the youth group with ample amounts of service opportunities, from raking yards to working with organizations like “With Love from Jesus,” which is a ministry that distributes free food and clothing to the urban poor of Raleigh and surrounding areas. My high school, Apex High, also presented me with service opportunities through my involvement with National Honors Society and student government. Since coming to Elon, I have not only continued volunteering, but the frequency in which I volunteer has increased due to my involvement with InterVarsity, the hours I must complete as a member of Odyssey (a group created for the campus’ endowed scholarship students that is committed to building community and branching out through service learning), and the hours I must complete as a human services minor. Lastly, I have been on multiple mission trips, including two trips to the Dominican Republic and one to Egypt.
I believe my motivations for being so greatly involved with service work can all be traced back to my childhood history. When I was younger, my mom and I were incredibly poor. At one point in my life, I was homeless, and even though it was an incredibly challenging time, it has shaped who I am today and how I view everything, including my perspective on service. I can distinctly recall certain instances when I was blessed by service organizations, such as this one organization that provided every child in the shelter in which I lived in for two months with Christmas presents. My Christmas was changed that year by one organization’s decision to donate a few gifts, and I use memories such as this to motivate myself to continue serving and performing simple acts of kindness. For example, I made Christmas cards for the residents who lived at an assisted living facility where I completed over thirty service hours. I have no clue if my cards impacted anyone at all, but I am hoping that they did because making them impacted me. In all honestly, half the reason I love to serve is that I selfishly feel so great after! Through serving in different environments over the years, I have come to observe that I naturally assume leadership roles while serving. My style of leadership is one that you may label as “quiet,” in that I am not incredibly vocal or have a dominating presence, but I usually end up stepping up to the plate to lead because I am very organized, I love scheduling, and I make sure that everyone’s opinions are heard. I definitely thrive in smaller groups because I personally feel less intimidated and more inclined to assume a leadership position. I also have observed that I feel most comfortable leading when I am in situations that I am familiar with. For example, while completing my human services practicum at a local nursing home, I naturally took the lead and helped the other student at my work site adjust because I had had plenty of nursing home experience before. However, if we had been at a soup kitchen or Kopper Top, I would have been far less likely to take the lead due to my lack of experience in those environments.
In serving others, I find that I do enjoy serving and learning from certain demographic groups more than others. I love serving both children and the elderly, but I feel less comfortable serving people who are my age or middle aged. I suppose I feel more comfortable with the elderly and children because those are the two demographic groups that I have had the most hands-on experience working with. I will admit that serving men, especially men my age, has always made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I remember one instance in particular that was a point of dissonance in my service history. When I was in high school volunteering with “With Love from Jesus,” I was setting up a table for canned goods and a young man ended up harassing me. He left me eventually, and no serious harm was done except for a few inappropriate sexually charged remarks, but it has definitely skewed how I view serving men who are under the age of sixty. As I approach new service learning opportunities, I would love to increase my knowledge of different aspects of poverty by working with the rural poor, as most of my service experience has included working with the urban poor. I would also like to learn how to better raise awareness for the needs of others. I am always the one who attends events and goes on service trips, but rarely am I the one who organizes them and advocates for the people the event is for. I hope that as I learn to advocate and raise awareness for the issues I am most passionate about, I can contribute to our South Africa service learning team through my organizational skills and perhaps even my training as a musician. I am sure that I will be learning much more than I will be contributing, but I plan on investing myself in this trip as much as possible and being an active and engaged member of the program.
Jacob "Moyo" Selzer
Class of 2013
My mother emphasized many things to me while I was growing up that I still carry with me today. However, if one lesson has stuck out among the rest, it would be the importance of altruism. Looking beyond one’s self and into the perspective of other people is something I have always strived to do, hence my fairly active history of service. I have worked with a variety of service organizations, both community ones and others that deal with larger world issues. I was a board member for Habitat for Humanity throughout my highschool career, and continue to work with Habitat here at Elon. My strongest passion in service, however, is working with children. I volunteered with Boston’s City Year program during high school, and worked to provide Boston youth with a safe place to learn and grow during off-school hours. In addition, I have also combined my love for service and for lacrosse in coaching youth teams in high school. I worked with Brookline’s youth lacrosse league for a short period in high school, and I am also currently coaching a fall season lacrosse league in Burlington, North Carolina. My involvement in service is not limited to an individual level, as I am also a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity on campus. In my first year in the fraternity, we sponsored numerous events to raise money for our philanthropy of Youth AIDS awareness. This included a sorority kickball tournament, a sponsored mile run, and various other events as well. Recently, our philanthropy was recently changed to the National Cancer Coalition. No matter the cause, philanthropy is of the utmost importance to our fraternity, and we are constantly working to plan more events and raise more money for a good cause. It’s difficult to articulate why I enjoy doing service work. I think my involvement with children-based service projects is definitely a little selfish, as I have not experienced a better feeling than teaching a child something new and seeing their face light up. It’s simply a feeling that cannot be expressed, only felt. My involvement in service goes beyond my love for working with kids. I was raised under the impression that helping others isn’t really a choice, but a necessity. Thus, it’s something that I not only love, but that has to be done.
My greatest skill in service, without a doubt, is my ability to genuinely relate to people. Although I am a strong leader, I have found that being a natural speaker and good listener has helped me immensely in service work. It is one thing to help a person, but things go to a whole new level when you actually listen to people’s stories and relate to them as human beings. In doing so, I have met some amazing people and learned more than I could have ever anticipated. I recall a day during my work with City Year that really opened my eyes to the violence that inner city youth often face on a daily basis. Coming from a suburb of Boston, I have come to realize that I grew up in a bubble where everything of necessity was largely given to me. Elon is much the same. However, I remember hearing one of my group leaders say that no children were allowed to leave camp at the end of the day without the supervision of their parent. Confused by the fact that some of our kids were teenagers and lived only a few blocks away, my group leader merely shook her head. It took me a while to realize that even the shortest walk at night might prove costly for a child or teenager in the city. It was a startling and scary moment that I will never forget. Moments like these are also another reason why I choose to involve myself with service. Nobody should have to be scared to walk home at night. Adaptation to a new culture is an essential skill that I definitely need to improve as my service work in South Africa approaches. I’ve had a tough time comprehending the situations of kids and people in areas like Boston and Burlington, so I cannot even begin to imagine what going to South Africa will be like. I feel like I really need to prepare myself for what I might see, as there are people there who undoubtedly have it far worse than I can even begin to imagine. My best remedy for this is an open mind and an eagerness to serve. I plan to come to South Africa with no pre-conceived notions and a genuine willingness to help out where I can. In my mind, that is the best way I can adapt to and begin to serve in a new culture.
Whenever an individual enters a new culture, whether it be working with Burlington high school lacrosse players or working in South Africa with the national rugby team, there are always immense learning opportunities. I cannot even begin to describe how anxious I am to learn everything about this country. In terms of my specific service placement, I’m excited to learn about the game of rugby, especially because of its rich history and role in race relations in South Africa. I feel as though I can contribute to this specific service opportunity through my love for sports and competition, but also through my appreciation for the game’s history. I plan to learn the ins and outs of the game, and am also looking forward to researching its history and role in the country of South Africa. My service opportunity in South Africa may be a shift from my past service work, but there is no doubt in my mind that this will be a life-changing experience. I have done so much work with kids, so I am extremely excited to be working with professional athletes as a change of pace. I look forward to contributing to the rugby program in any and every way that I can, starting with this extreme amount of exuberance
Jasmine "Kethiwe" Spencer
Broadcast Journalism Major
Class of 2011
I have been very fortunate to have had lots of various service experiences before Elon University. The past three years at Elon, however have and will expand my service to another level. My experience began with missionary and voluntary fellowship through my church in the surrounding Winston-Salem, NC area. Since a child I have participated in our annual Loaves and Fishes drive, service at the Food Bank, nursing home visitation, and soup kitchen and or meal preparation for the needy. My favorite is an event called “Feed My Sheep” in which members of all ages, set up clothing donations, fresh produce and groceries and hot meals for those need in my local community. In my experience working in the local projects of my area my example of “dissonance” are to not apply stereotypes to all who live there as well as recognize even though there are actually those in need there are con artist s everywhere. I learned that lesson pretty early at the age of eleven when I found out that some who came to our church events for donations use it as an easy hustle for themselves. In that instance I was taught you can only serve and be responsible for your own actions and attempts at making a difference.
Now that I am at Elon, service is large portion of my time as a member of the Greek community. My service experience while at Elon consists of everything from working with the youth and tutoring centers, raising funds for disease research and awareness, highway clean-up to Elonthon. It’s safe to say that in all of my service work I am a confident server to the community yet still receive the same initial gratification as if each is my first time. I enjoy making personal connections with people as a sensitive individual and consider myself a vocal leader when it comes to large tasks to make time and effort most efficient. I don’t have a preference for a particular group when working for and with others (although I love children) and can comfortably interact with all ages and ethnic groups. In preparing for service in this program in South Africa I am excited yet apprehensive and look forward to the impact the site will have on me the most. I want to be sure to develop the sensitivity skills to the South African culture (As I expect we will in this class) as to help those the best way I can. Helping others is a gratifying and rewarding experience for me. Helping those that face strife’s worse than I’ve ever seen or can imagine will be challenging to control my emotions.
Danielle "Ukwazi" Vandenbulcke
Class of 2012
Chester, New Jersey
Prior to coming to Elon University, I participated in several service events, and after I arrived even more followed. In high school, I was an avid member of The Michael Steinberg Peace Project and the Service Club. In addition, I was a part of the Samaritan Homeless Intern Program. Unlike the Service Club, the Michael Steinberg Peace Project and S.H.I.P. were very hands on. The Peace Project is an organization inspired by Michael Steinberg that promotes everyone to “find and use his or her own voice.” Ultimately, the program was developed to eliminate bullying and boost self-esteem in young children throughout the community. As a member, I was lucky enough to visit schools in the Mendham/Chester area and directly talk to the students. The sessions included icebreakers, skits, and team building activities. Overall, the Peace Project was the most rewarding service club in which I have participated. In today’s society, change is always possible, and by speaking to children in elementary school or middle school, it eliminates bullying at the crux. After leaving the schools, I felt as if I made a difference.
Similar to the Peace Project, S.H.I.P. included face-to-face service work. As a member of the program, I would assist at a soup kitchen in Somerville, New Jersey. My duties included preparing the food, cleaning dishes, and handing out the meals. After two or three visits, I began to recognize many of the men and women who came in from week to week. Every person was always thankful and appreciative to the nth degree. I could not help, but smile. It was exhilarating to think that my four hours of monthly service brought such joy and happiness to someone else’s life. At Elon University, my service has continued through organizations such as Zeta Tau Alpha and the Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity. As a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, I have participated in many philanthropy events, including the Crown Classic Golf Tournament, the Chapel Hill 5K, and the Greek Man and Woman Talent Show. In addition to these events, I have completed individual service hours. As a new member of Alpha Kappa Psi, I have yet to attend any fraternity service events. However, prior to initiation a fellow pledge and I helped out at the YMCA afterschool program in Burlington, North Carolina. Mainly, I worked with younger children. My duties included helping the children with homework and playing games with them during recess. In regards to service, I enjoy helping children the most. They are always ready to learn, soaking up any information around them, and I am happy to assist with that process in any way.
During my new member period for Alpha Kappa Psi, I participated in several team-building events. Our first event was a ropes course and it was here that my I discovered my leadership capabilities. If I were to classify myself, I would assume the role as a democratic leader. I am always willing to hear what others have to say. In my opinion, two minds are better than one, and everyone’s opinion is important. I am blessed to say that I have grown up in a wealthy town; nonetheless, my parents have always taught me that it’s not what you have, but what you give that is most important. Therefore, I want to seize this opportunity to give back to the less fortunate. Yes, if I want to give back I can donate money, but I crave hands-on experiences. I have tutored underprivileged children, but this alone was not enough. I yearn to learn more and do more for others around the world. I want to submerge myself in a culture unlike my own. This may be a challenging experience, but I’m willing to take that chance. To grow as a person, I must step outside my comfort zone and I think this program will help me do just that. I want to look at the world as I never have before and break out of the bubble that I live in today.
Katherine "Xolile" Wise
Broadcast Journalism & International Studies (Regional interest in Africa)
Class of 2013
My experiences in service all seem non-cohesive at first glance. However, I believe my broad background provided building blocks for where I stand now on my views and skills of service. By participating in a variety of activities, I gained experience working with issues close to home and far away, working with younger children and the elderly, and being a leader as well as a member of a group. Much of my interest in service has stemmed not from a volunteer opportunity, but a job. I have been a swim coach now for seven years, which instilled in me a love of working with kids, and a love for partnering with others to help them achieve their goals. By teaching younger children how to swim, they have in turn taught me how fun and funny life can be if you make it! Coaching really opened my eyes and my heart to how much I loved helping others. But my service experience extended to a completely different demographic when I began volunteering for an Alzheimer’s Day Center. It started as a requirement for a class, but I grew to love it so much that I volunteered there well after the assignment was completed. I even ended up bringing one of my dogs in weekly for “Pet Therapy”! It was a rewarding experience, and helped me find beauty in moments of life that sometimes seemed depressing. It also taught me what a difference you can make in one particular day by “living in the moment.”
When I branched into my interest in International Studies, I started a Girls Learn International chapter at my school. The organization partners with schools in developing countries and helps promote education for girls in areas where it has previously been denied. I helped facilitate awareness of the issue amongst my school and community, and hosted a dinner within my community to recognize the issue and raise funds for the chapter. We participated in cultural exchanges with our partner classroom, like creating a cookbook of our favorite foods, which we sent to them. This gave me leadership opportunity, and helped me think of little ways to make a longer-term impact. Ironically, in contrast to my experience at the Day Center, it sometimes does matter much more about the difference you can make long term rather just in the moment. That is often done simply though promoting awareness, so that the issue becomes a relevant one for other people too. Ignorance is not bliss, awareness is bliss. More recently, my service opportunities have been through Elon’s Catholic Campus Ministry, also known as CCM, where frequently I visit the nursing home. There, I learned the importance of simple presence, and a listening ear. I also have had the chance to cook for a local organization as well as visit the Boys and Girls Club, which is an after school program for kids. My experience with the later inspired me to make a promotional video about the Boys and Girls Club for a Digital Media Convergence Class final project.
Another tie-in to my interest in working for kids was my participation in last year’s Elonthon, a 24-hour dance event that raises money for children at Duke Medical Center Hospital. Because of such a rewarding experience, I am joining a committee this year to become more involved with the event. One similarity that you can see woven into a couple of my service experiences is service through food. As a lover of food and cooking myself, I really find the saying, “A way to a person’s heart is through their stomach”, to be true. I am joining the new Elon organization Campus Kitchen to further commit to this particular service interest of mine. I do not believe that any service opportunity can teach you the same lessons as another. Each one offers a unique experience. While it is true that one opportunity offers skills that can help with your next service engagement, there will always be something new that you can take from a particular situation. I think giving is an extremely important value and factor that I try to incorporate into my life, and what better way to do this than through service. When I think of my motivations for continuing service, I always think of the fact that I may not be able to change the world, but I am able to make an individual’s world better. And who knows? That individual just may be the very person who may be able to change the world. I know that I can bring my energy and enthusiasm to every service opportunity I do. A smile goes a long way, and when I show that I am extremely robust and passionate about what I am doing, it can rub off on the people I am working with. When you put your soul into what you do, it’s contagious! I can be a leader, but I also know how to follow directions and work as a team. But service is not always easy. What do you say to an elderly man who tells you he is ready to die? How do you keep an enthusiastic smile when trying to communicate with a person who seems unresponsive? How do you make sure you are giving every one of the many kids you work with the fair amount of attention they deserve? These issues of dissonance I encountered usually had to make me stop and think of myself in their shoes. For example, when my elderly friend told me he just wanted to die, I thought of how I, too, would want to be reunited with a spouse I so dearly loved. He has a faith so strong, and knows that his love is waiting for him. So instead of promoting this idea further or completely ignoring it, I asked him to tell me more about his wife. Seeing from another person’s point of view can be tricky, and it is an area I know I can keep improving in. Similarly, in dealing with a topic that can make you uncomfortable, it is best to confront it rather than ignore it. I can bring my skills of enthusiasm, passion, and leadership with me as I venture to South Africa, yet I know the class will have so much more to offer me. This will be my first opportunity of doing service learning in another country. Like I have learned in times of dissonance, I may be placed out of my comfort zone. But if we all stayed within our comfort zones, how could we possibly be able to serve or work towards positive change?
Jacob "Bognani" Wyde
Class of 2012
In The Call to South Africa program, I am looking forward to volunteering in a place outside my country. I am hoping that this will be an eye opening experience for me and help me better understand some of the struggles other countries are facing, particularly in South Africa. I feel that because I have a very diverse background in community service, I need to start taking a more active leadership role. This way I will be able to help mentor the fellow volunteers that may not be as well versed. During these volunteer programs I usually assume a quiet leadership position. I am usually content just letting other people lead as long as they know what they are doing. But I will not hesitate to step up and take a leadership position, if the need arises. When I have to choose which volunteer program to I don’t look at the demographics of each program. I try to choose the program that will best compliment what I have to offer so that I can make the biggest impact possible. Moments like these are the main reason why I love doing volunteer work. As cliché as it sounds, knowing that I have made a lasting positive impact on someone’s life is why I do volunteer work. I continued to be active in community service after leaving MSR. During high school, I volunteered at a local 4-H every weekend. While I wanted to be a more active member in my community during high school, I just didn’t have the time being a tri-sport athlete. Since coming to Elon I have joined CHAMPS. CHAMPS is a volunteer program that educates 4th and 5th grade students on the importance of fitness and nutrition. The most memorable moment from CHAMPS actually happened after CHAMPS ended. I was eating at Octagon and Eli, who was with his mother (an Elon employee), came up to me and said how he missed CHAMPS and couldn’t wait for the next session of CHAMPS to start. At the moment I knew that I’d made an effect on his life for the better.My elementary school, Montessori School of Raleigh (MSR), instilled the importance of community service upon its students starting at a young age. My first experience with community service was in first grade when MSR held its annual food drive for Meals on Wheels. I continued participating in this annual food until I graduated from MSR in the ,9th grade. While at MSR, I was presented with many other volunteer and community service opportunities. One of the main volunteer programs I remember doing was throughout 6th grade, tutoring some of the kindergarten kids everyday after school. I continued to be active in community service after leaving MSR. During high school, I volunteered at a local 4-H every weekend. While I wanted to be a more active member in my community during high school, I just didn’t have the time being a tri-sport athlete. Since coming to Elon I have joined CHAMPS. CHAMPS is a volunteer program that educates 4th and 5th grade students on the importance of fitness and nutrition. The most memorable moment from CHAMPS actually happened after CHAMPS ended. I was eating at Octagon and Eli, who was with his mother (an Elon employee), came up to me and said how he missed CHAMPS and couldn’t wait for the next session of CHAMPS to start. At the moment I knew that I’d made an effect on his life for the better. Moments like these are the main reason why I love doing volunteer work. As cliché as it sounds, knowing that I have made a lasting positive impact on someone’s life is why I do volunteer work. During these volunteer programs I usually assume a quiet leadership position. I am usually content just letting other people lead as long as they know what they are doing. But I will not hesitate to step up and take a leadership position, if the need arises. When I have to choose which volunteer program to I don’t look at the demographics of each program. I try to choose the program that will best compliment what I have to offer so that I can make the biggest impact possible. I feel that because I have a very diverse background in community service, I need to start taking a more active leadership role. This way I will be able to help mentor the fellow volunteers that may not be as well versed. In The Call to South Africa program, I am looking forward to volunteering in a place outside my country. I am hoping that this will be an eye opening experience for me and help me better understand some of the struggles other countries are facing, particularly in South Africa.