By: Bailey Wagner
I hear it every time I ask my parents about an upcoming trip; “The cheapest you’ll ever travel will be your years of college, so go!” Taking full advantage of my parent’s willingness to see me fall in love with every part of the world, I started packing my bags to go to Hawaii.
I was able to explore the beautiful backcountry of the island of Maui with 11 other people. A 9 day backpacking and service trip provided through the university’s Buck-I-SERV and Ohio Adventure Center programs.
I became what some would say “crazy hiker person” for that 9 day trip. Never once did I see the inside of a resort, but instead we stayed in close quarters of what seemed to be the smallest 4 person tents. Never once did I shower with more than a garden house or the salt-water waves of the Pacific Ocean. Only twice did I have dinner prepared in an actual kitchen. I learned to envy those “crazy hiker people”.
I had never felt so out of shape until this trip. The adventure part of this experience were definitely some of the most strenuous work I have ever done. Never before would I have thought hiking would be a difficult task, but that was before I went down into a crater of a mountain then expected to go back up, not to mention this mountain sits 10,000 feet above sea level at its highest point. Let alone the work that goes into surfing! Surprisingly I was actually not half bad at the surfing deal, but man did I just want to lay on my board and take a nap.
The people I met and the service we did were just as impactful. One day we planted 50+ coconut trees, ending the day covered in mud from head to toe. (Remember how I said I didn’t shower for 9 days…I came back to Ohio with mud in my hair still.) And 3 days later we cut down 2,300+ pine trees in the national park. Pine is an invasive species to Hawaii and will take over the land, not letting native species grow. Coming home with more than just mud and souvenirs, I gained awful tan lines from the days in the sun, there was no beautiful Hawaiian glow for me.
There will never be enough words to describe this amazing experience nor will the pictures ever do it justice. So I encourage you, travel while you are in college, for it is one of my most memorable pieces about my college career.
Mahalo for reading!
By: Christine Balint
As a Buckeye, everyone has their own individualized experience during their time at Ohio State. We hear about the educational abroad opportunities, the research development within the college, and watch as leaders step forward to promote diversity and love within our college community. I assume many students have heard of Buck-I-Serv, but have not taken the time to research and learn more about this great organization. Buck-I-Serv is centered-around community service and civic engagement where students learn the importance of active citizenship and working in diverse environments. I’ve decided to share my story to hopefully spark the interest of fellow students to devote some of their time here at OSU to an organization that does much more than provide manpower.
This winter break, I took the time to travel to Cleveland County Oklahoma where I spent five days working with Habitat for Humanity. With a team of seven fellow buckeyes, we worked to build a home for a tornado survivor and learned her story of how she lost her home in 2013. Lee Anne is a single mother who has lived in Norman, Oklahoma for most of her life. Tornados in Oklahoma are similar to how Ohioans treat severe thunderstorms or snowstorms: something we always hear about, but rarely takes precaution towards. During tornado season, Lee Anne’s home would be located in the direct path of one of the most powerful tornados Norman had seen in years. Arriving home after the storm, Lee Anne would only see her shower standing where her home once stood. Jumping forward to 2016, Lee Anne had began her journey towards a new home with Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes for free, they do however provide a zero interest rate to make it more affordable for the homeowner. I had never worked with Habitat, and was excited to get my hands dirty and use skills I’ve learned from FFA/4H to help build this home. Little did I know that the time and work we put into the home helps Habitat offer the zero percent interest rate (which would come from outside contractors paid hourly on normal sites). Lee Anne visited us on the site and shared her personal story while installing dry wall throughout the home. I could see in her eyes that we truly were a blessing in her life and she graciously expressed her gratitude towards us committing our break time towards helping her. It was this moment that I knew I had provided a service, a service to a fellow man in need.
Over the remainder of the trip, I learned more about the social justice issue of poverty and homelessness. Norman, Oklahoma is known for it’s homeless population and my team had the opportunity to interact and work with members of that community while we were staying at the local church. Every person has his or her own story, and it is our duty to break the stereotype that lies behind homelessness.
I never could have imagined the impact this service trip would have on my time here at Ohio State. I worked with amazing members of the Habitat for Humanity team, was able to explore Oklahoma City, and travel halfway across the country with seven other buckeyes I can gladly call my good friends. I’ve learned that there is much more I can do from just volunteering. Through service I can work towards a better tomorrow, and overcome obstacles that surround our growing society. Lee Anne continues to update my team on the progress of her home and follows our lives as we proceed through college. I am forever grateful for this service opportunity and plan to commit more of my time towards service while here at Ohio State. In summary, I share the words of Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”