My Buck-I-Serve Trip to Ghana

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

For my STEP Signature Project I traveled to Ghana, Africa with Buck-I-Serv in partnership with the Akumanyi Foundation. We stayed at the site of an orphanage and helped complete the daily activities/chores for the home. We also traveled daily to, and painted, a school the Foundation was building for the orphanage. We painted the toilette project the foundation completed in another village, as well.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

This trip ended up being an extremely impactful experience. I have always been deeply involved in service and have helped to head a non-profit as OSU for a majority of my time at this institution. Recently, however, I was feeling fairly burnt out in my work, and this trip completely re-inspired me and reignited my passion for helping others. I was reminded often of my privilege and learned how that privilege isn’t something to feel guilty about, but something to use to my advantage to do good work. I also learned a lot about perception and how just the way you frame something can have either very positive or negative effects. I was reminded how I have so little to complain about and how when I complain it is usually about things that many people would die to be doing.

3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

We had many reflections and performed a great deal of activities that aided in my transformation throughout this experience. One specific activity that impacted me greatly was the privilege walk we completed as a group. Everyone on my trip participated and although I expected to be ahead, it didn’t make turning around to see so many of the others, mostly colored friends, far behind, any less shocking. The questions we stepped forwards or backwards for were completely unbiased and really expressed the disparities often seen in our society between white people and people of color.

The friends I made on this trip also aided in my transformation, I feel blessed for the very diverse group we had and the many open dialogues we were able to participate in. Having people from many different backgrounds with many different experiences made the trip and our group activities especially impactful. I was able to learn from everyone I was with through their own personal stories and reflections.

Furthermore, my interactions with the children at the orphanage were especially transformative. They reminded me that so much joy can be found is such simple things. Everything I did with the children made me so much happier than I ever expected and their ability to be so happy and have such good mentalities was inspiring. Their work ethic put me to shame and their attitudes when doing anything made me realize how much I complain and how little I have to actually complain about.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This transformative experience has done so much for me when it comes to my academic, personal and professional goals. I was reminded to always be grateful for the opportunity I have to education, as well as for my love of helping others. Because of this experience, I hold so much hope and excitement for what my future holds and for all the work I want to do. I can’t wait to continue to do similar things I did throughout this experience and look forward to finding new ways to make others happy.