Therapy Service Project

Kaitlin Brown

Service-Learning and Community Service STEP Project

 

  1. Helping Paws, Healing Hearts is an independent project in which a rescue dog will be purchased and trained to carry out the duties as a therapy service animal. Upon certification, the dog will then be able to make visits to hospice centers, children’s hospitals, and other community friendly areas to pass on the importance and benefits of engaging in a human-animal bond.

 

  1. Throughout my life I have always been in contact of animal in some shape or form. During this project, I truly got a feel for what it was like to be responsible for another life. Bandit, being a shelter dog, did not take to his new life so easily. In learning about Bandit’s past, I found out he was badly abused by a male figure. Training was difficult and honestly still is. My assumptions on this world was that I could plan for almost anything. I could plan my path and follow it smoothly. It wasn’t until this project that I realized that life isn’t so picture perfect. There are many bumps in the path that you will have to accept and overcome.

 

  1. Bandit struggled with training. Unfortunately, Bandit was attacked by our neighbor’s dog. This set his training back further than I could imagine. To this day he still isn’t the same dog that I adopted. If I could take anything away from this project it is that you don’t give up on something just because it’s a little bit broken.

Bandit was unable to complete his training due to being so fearful of other dogs. It was so bad at one point that I couldn’t enjoy taking him out of the house, even for walks. It was difficult for me to even want to have him. When he is by himself he is just so loving and would do anything to just be a good dog. I had to accept that his past truly affected him and had a major impact on his actions.

 

  1. Learning to just accept the hand that you are dealt in life and learning to adapt to your situations is a major part of growing up. It’s not fair to just blame an animal for acting the wrong way for what he was treated like in his past. As sad as it is, it’s easy for some people to get so frustrated with a being that can’t effectively communicate with you. It has been a great pleasure in truly taking the time to understand a dog which is one of the best dogs I have owned. His personality and all.

 

Thailand – Elephant Experience

My STEP Signature Project involved working with elephant rehabilitation and conservation. Located in a small village, Huay Pakoot Thailand, which is about four hours outside of Chaing Mia. During my time in the village we learned about the elephants and elephant behavior. While also being integrated into the villagers community and culture. It was eye opening and educational. During the morning we would travel out to the forest and observe the elephants. We would collect data on their behavior, preform wellness checks, and learn about elephant well-being. In the afternoon we had lesson’s on the native language Pakigyong. There was opportunities to weave baskets with the chief of the village, visit with our homestay families, and take some downtime. At night we would teach English lessons to the villagers, hangout with other volunteers, and enjoy the beautiful mountains of Thailand.

I think the biggest part of myself that changed was the understanding of the way other cultures live and work. The lifestyle in the village was very relaxed and slow moving. Everyday the villagers would get up and tend to their fields, or travel with us to the elephants. When their work was done for the day, they would come home and just enjoy time with their loved ones. Our cell phone reception was not the best in the village so many of us spent very little time on our phones. The disconnection from the world allowed us to soak in the slow moving and relaxed lifestyle of the village. It encouraged me to spend less time on my phone, and more time with the people in my presences. It helped me slowdown from the fast-paced world that we are all so accustomed too. I loved my experience in the village and the understand that we can all spend a little less time on our phones and a little more time with one another.

I mentioned earlier that the villagers had an overwhelming relaxed style of living. There was little to no emphasis on what people looked like or what they wore. We were not judge on the amount of Instagram likes we received nor the amount of Facebook friends we had. The emphasis in the village was simply the type of person you were and what you brought to the table.

Our phones had little to no reception in the mountains. This resulted in many of us hardly using our phones. I didn’t have many pictures coming back from Thailand because I simply forgot to take them. I never had my phone in my hand and really enjoyed the time I spent with my fellow volunteers. We enjoyed learning about one another since we were all international. We bonded over the similarities in our cultures but also the differences. The different educational systems, cultures, and foods ate in all different parts of the world. One of our favorite things was the question: “If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?” It explored what different people liked and all the different food options. It was interesting to hear that some people just wanted a beer for their final meal, while others wanted a 4 course fine dining experience. All different, but everyone appreciated everyone’s thoughts on the matter.

I was grateful to meet both the villagers who represented a way of living that I had not experienced, as well as the volunteers and staff that fully embraced that way of living. It was refreshing to experience a culture that was rooted deeply in history and had little influence from the outside world. We learned to cook the way the villagers did, bath like them (bucket showers), and enjoy life like them. I learned that you don’t need so many things to live. Life is about the people you meet and memories you make.

I think that this change, realization, is beneficial for anyone in the world. For me it resulted in wanting to donate all of the clothes that I never wear. To downsize and really live life in a simplistic way. It also taught me about getting to know people without technology.

As a nursing student I have experienced how hard it can be to make a connection with a patient. Making connections help build a trust system between you and the patient and allows for better care on both sides. Through this experience I was surrounded by so many different people and cultures, and yet I had some sort of commonality with all of them. In my professional career I hope to be able to find a commonality with each patient I have. I want to build a bond and a respect between the two of us. Hopefully it will result in a better patient experience and better care provided.

Grand Canyon Buck-i-Serve

STEP Reflection Prompts

 

As you may recall from your STEP signature project proposal, your STEP signature project was designed to foster transformational learning—that is, learning that challenged you personally and helped you gain broader and deeper understandings of yourself, others, and the world around you.  Please address the following prompts to help you reflect on your experiences completing your STEP signature project; please give careful and critical thought to your responses.

 

Name: Kyle Winiger

 

Type of Project: Service

 

  1. We created a trail more accessible for people to walk on at a Native American heritage site. We then backpacked down the Grand Canyon for three days. Then we went white water rafting for four days.
  2. I realized that being in the outdoors can solidify that I have grown up with a solid background. When I went out in the outdoors, I did not change how I acted around people. When we would do the trail work, I was always there to help people out and work my hardest. This showed me that I have grown up with dedication and hard work. I also showed how I can work with a lot of different people in different tasks. My view of what people had to deal with in the older days also changed. I learned how to deal with not having things like electricity and cell phone service.
  3. One of the events was working together with our group to finish the trail. We had to share the tasks and if one person didn’t do their job, the project would not run smoothly. We had to make sure that if someone got tired, they would get switched out so that the work stayed moving smoothly. My willingness to help people out was very important when we did this work.

The second event was hiking down the grand canyon which gave me an appreciation for what people had to deal with before organized civilization occurred. People had to get up every day and move to a new place and I realized that is a lot of work. We had to make our own food and carry everything we needed on our backs. This was very rewarding because I felt a connection with what people in the older times did.

The third event was white water rafting. On the raft, we had to row in unison and trust that they would do their job to get through the rapids. I had never met the people on the trip and having to trust them was a new challenge. We had to show immediate trust in each other or else we would not have made it through the rapid and our boat would flip. Our group became very cohesive and worked together really well.

  1. This change is significant in my life because it allows me to keep developing myself in the way that I have been doing. This can relate to my personal life because I don’t have to make myself be something that I am not. It allows me to be around a wide range of people and I will know I can act the same around each group because I am a respectable and adventurous and nice person. This will give me confidence when going into my profession to be able to get along with any co-worker I am put with.Going on this trip gave me a greater appreciation for what the world has to offer and how amazing nature is. As I went through the trip, I really took notice on the wonders that is right around us and is taken for granted. I have always lived in a city or the suburbs where nature has not been super present. There are basic parks or small forests but nothing like I experienced on my trip. On my trip, I felt like I was in a different world. I was awestruck at all the incredible views and the habitat that was established with the plants and animals. This ecosystem taught me how things that may be completely different can work together to survive on my own. I have been able to apply this to my academic and professional life in how I need to be adaptable with anyone I work with. As an athletic training major, we constantly work with different healthcare professionals and each professional has an opinion on how the treatment of a patient should go. The best kind of healthcare is when each type of healthcare professional brings their skill set and can work together with each other to provide the best care for the patient. I have always had a tough time doing this because I thought my side of health care knew best but seeing how these ecosystems can still work in harmony with one another even if they have completely different set of features, that showed me how I can do the same thing with the different types of healthcare. I also used my experience of working with my group and the teamwork we had when performing the service to apply to this side of my academic and professional life. Our group was a wide range of different majors from business to medicine to engineering and we had to put those professional interests aside and work together to complete our project. For us, it was dividing jobs in the group and picking up the slack for some when they were tired and did not have enough energy to continue this job. This teamwork we developed was super awesome because none of us knew each other before the trip but you would not be able to recognize that when watching how well we worked together. This reiterated the idea to be adaptable in my profession because I deal with a wide range of patients and they all come from a wide range of backgrounds. I need to be able to work with all of the patients in order to get trust from them and provide quality care. This trip has showed me how things that may be different in outward appearance and come from different backgrounds can work in harmony to provide the best product whether that is a finished trail or a functioning ecosystem or the best care for a patient.

 

Ghana May 2018 – The Akuymani Foundation -Kyle Krempasky

STEP Reflection Prompts

My STEP Signature Project was partnered with Buck-i-serv, and the Akyumani foundation. For my project, I applied for a trip in December of 2017, and was accepted to fly to Awkakwaa in Ghana to work at an Orphanage as well as see some of the country of Ghana. Most of my time was spent at the orphanage, either doing chores, teaching in some of the classrooms, or playing with the kids.

 

My view of the world was greatly changed by traveling to Ghana. Having never been out of the country, going to Africa was quite a culture shock. What stood out to me most was grateful Ghanians were for what they had. Living in America, we have a very cushy life. We do not have to worry about getting water to bathe, cook, or drink, while the people in the town I stayed in had to go to the river every time water was needed. Also, the living conditions of Ghana are very different from that of the US. Air conditioning was virtually no existent and there was no running water to bathe, so showers were taken by using a bucket of water. Coming back to the United States was difficult for me, as Americans are very wasteful compared to the Ghanians that I was with, and how Americans are accustomed to luxuries that many countries do not have.

 

Firstly, my best friend that I made on this trip was a little boy by the name of Mickey. Mickey had lived at that orphanage with his brother Junior for about 6 years. Mickey was very playful, loved to swing on the swing set, play soccer, and more than anything was very protective of his younger brother. What hit me about Mickey, was on the 5th day in Awkakwaa, Mickey was wearing his clothes backwards. I asked him why he was doing this and he said it was because they were the only clothes that he had, and the orphanage had run out of soap and didn’t buy more until next week.

What probably hit me the hardest, was the diet of the children we were working with. Not always eating 3 meals a day, and being spaced far apart must have been very hard for these children. The most amazing part of that however, wasn’t that the kids were hungry, but rather, was that very rarely would they complain about this lack of food. Cooking for these kids was a very interesting and rewarding experience. I was able to learn about Ghanian culture, try some food such as Redred and Fufu, and feel that I was helping to give these kids what they needed.

Lastly, was how gracious Ghanians were for what they had. I was talking with another participant on this trip and was explaining that if I was Ghanian and knew about what people had and how wasteful people were being, that I would be upset. However, this was not the case in Ghana, people still laughed and smiled, and were happy with what they had. I suppose that this is because that is the way that they live, and that they make the best of it. Most Americans I feel would be very uncomfortable living in Ghana for an extended period of time. I personally loved living there. I had been a boyscout for a large portion of my life, and I think that my experience living in hot conditions with no AC or running water prepared me well for this trip.

 

What I think is significant to me, is first, understanding that I live a very pampered life. Many people are not as lucky as I am to live in the United States, be able to go to college, or even have running water. My first shower back in the states was difficult for me. After only using 1 bucket of water as my shower for 2 weeks had not only made me really think about how much water Americans use, but also how much I take running water for granted. Watching the water from my shower go down the drain, and thinking about how many trips to the river to carry heavy water jugs back really hit me hard. Most importantly, Ghana taught me to appreciate what I have, and to not complain about not having certain things, because there are many people who are not as fortunate as me.

Secondly, Ghana taught me to take risks. Going to Africa is not something you are able to do every day. Heading off to a Country that I had barely heard of was anxiety inducing to say the least. But reflecting in Ghana taught me that if there were things in this world that I was meant to experience, I have to go get them. This once in a life time trip gave me so many experiences, and I was able to meet many new friends. Some Ghanaians I am still in touch with and we have become close friends. Being adventurous to this scale was something that I had not been able to do, and STEP gave me the opportunity to go and see some part of the world that many people wouldn’t even dream of. I would go back to Ghana in a heartbeat. Seeing the smiles of the people, the hot Ghanian air through your Tro-Tro, and seeing kids who love unconditionally is worth more than gold.

 

Ghana- May 2018

  1. Brief description of STEP signature Project. Two or three sentences describing the main activities of what the project entailed.

 

In May, 2018 I traveled to Akwakwaa, Ghana through Buck-I-Serv and the Akumanyi Foundation with an amazing group of students to serve at a children’s home. While in Akwakwaa, my service group worked together to perform tasks in the children’s home such as cooking, cleaning, teaching and playing with the kids, and other various tasks the children’s home needed done. While serving at the children’s home, each individual in my group was able to make connections with the children, staff from the foundation and the children’s home, and explore the beautiful, lively culture of the town and country where we spent our transformative weeks.

 

 

  1. Write one or two paragraphs about how your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, and your view of the world transformed while completing your STEP signature project.

 

 

While traveling through Ghana and spending time at the children’s home in Akwakwaa, our group held pensive conversations each night about what we had experienced that day and how those experiences challenged our previous thoughts, opinions, and what we had assumed to be true upon entering the country. For me, one of the biggest changes in previous thought processes was the fact that problems can be solved in more ways than one, and one is not necessarily better than the other. Although this may seem elementary, the idea is more profound when you are actually put in a situation that challenges your current mindset. While sitting in a classroom one day, I was pondering over how we could make the Ghanaian education system better, but most of my solutions primarily evolved from the way Western cultures provide education. While washing dishes, I pondered over how to make dishwashing easier and more efficient for the Ghanaians, and once again, my solution was derived from a Western amenity-dishwashers. It wasn’t until sweeping one day with a staff member from the children’s home that I realized how we can help create the changes the town and country needs and wants. The staff member said to me, “here in Ghana, we do everything with our hands, hard work over machines.” In this moment, my entire thought process about how to help the kids of the children home, how to help the town, the country, and the world all changed. I had previously only been thinking of how I would fix things with the mindset that everything I had in my life was right and would also help these people, but the real solution is simple- if we want to change the world, and help people in other countries and cultures progress in their own way, we must listen to the people, listen to what they need and want, and provide them with the resources they need to succeed and progress on their own.

 

Additionally, it is not enough to fix problems through bandaging. For example, giving the school a dishwasher would not make the town or the school sustainable and independent in the future, it would only provide a quick fix for what we think could be more efficient. Giving the children extra food while volunteers are there would not solve malnutrition when volunteers are gone. This was another thought process of mine that changed immensely. If we really want to change the world and make it a better place, it is not enough to only bandage the problems- we need to change the systems and policies that underlie these problems. This means changing education, trade, and travel policies along with the political mindsets that encourage the prior.

 

Although I learned a lot about the culture and how to provide better, more meaningful service, I learned a lot about myself on this trip. I learned that I value human connection over everything else, and that quality time is immensely more valuable than any material item could be. Of course, these were things I thought I had already believed, but I did not realize that these were my main values until I was able to live them everyday, all day long. I realized how the effects of technology have diminished this value in many people who are surrounded by a surplus of technology and media. Throughout the two weeks spent in Akwakwaa I was immersed in a lively, colorful, collectivist culture where human connection was just as important as food and water, and I have never felt so alive in my life. Lastly, I gained a deeper appreciation for people and the celebration of culture through food, music, and dance, all of which continue to inspire and uplift me, something I know I could not have gained just through reading about the country.

 

 

  1. 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.

Throughout my two weeks spent in Ghana, there were countless moments that challenged my previous thought processes and assumptions. One of the most memorable moments, the one that shows up in my mind everyday even after a month, was while washing dishes one night after dinner. While sitting with a peer on the concrete, washing the dishes of about eighty children, and having an in-depth conversation about Ghanaian lifestyle, a small child walked over to the large pot which cooks and holds rice for all of the children and staff. There was still rice stuck on the edges of the pot and as the child walked over and reached in the pot my heart sank. For the next five minutes the child scraped every grain of rice out of the pot with her nails so that she could feel as if she had enough to eat. What hurt even more was realizing that even if I gave her extra food for the night, and the next few days, in two weeks I would be gone and she would be hungry again. Although heart-breaking, this was one defining moment that made me realize the importance of fixing systems in order to promote sustainable solutions rather than putting a bandage on what one may see as a problem.

Another experience that changed my thought processes while in Ghana and enhanced the idea of fixing systems and uneven distribution of resources around the world was the lack of simple medical supplies that would otherwise prevent and heal the smallest of wounds and health issues. Inclusive to eye infections, colds, malaria, and simple cuts and scratches, there were barely any medical supplies for the kids to use. As a volunteer, I was told to bring these simple supplies with me in case of an injury or personal health issues. Many times, I thought about giving the children’s home these supplies during the trip since I had not been using them. As a volunteer team, we spoke many times about the impact of our help and presence and discussing the fact that we could give them all the resources we think they needed but the second we would leave they would be out of those resources. Again, I realized that the biggest impact I, and the team, can make would be by educating others on our time, experience, and lack of supplies in order to change how medical supplies are dispersed throughout the world. I could give the home all my Band-Aids and eye drops, but this would not change the fact that in the United States and many other areas of the world there is a surplus of medical supplies and in other areas, such as this small town in Ghana, there are barely any.

The last key reason my mindset and lifestyle changed was due to the fact that although for the entire two weeks I was secluded from the outside world, thrown into a beautiful, new and refreshing culture, and forced to get to know new people in ways I had never done before, I had the best time of my life and felt more alive than I ever had before. The importance of human connection and valuing aspects of culture in ways I had not before, as in preservation, promotion, and awareness, is so necessary that I believe it competes with the necessity for food and water. In order to feel alive, you not only need to be alive, but to have the human connection and relationships to promote liveliness.

 

  1. 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 transformation is valuable in my life, because as much as I do not like admitting that I feel as if I have been living my life wrong for the past two years, I feel as if from now on and forever I will be living right, with human connection and relationships as the number one values in my life. Academics, careers, and goals are all very important but are nothing if you do not have people to live, experience, and progress in the respective with.

 

This is valuable to my future goals as a professional because I will now have a better, broader understanding of the cultures and lifestyles of the people I work with. As a physical therapist, I will have to recognize that different cultures affect how therapy plays a role for individuals in different house holds and how to best provide therapy for people who are not part of the same culture as I am. Although this is challenging, it also excites me for the future and my chosen career path because I know that by doing this I will continue to learn in every area of life, including my career and culturally, which is the base of all my dreams.

 

Buck-i-Serv – Grand Canyon

STEP Reflection

Name: Madison Mazur

Type of Project: Buck-i-Serv – Grand Canyon

For my STEP Signature Project, I went on a Buck-i-Serv Trip to the Grand Canyon. Our trip began in Sedona, Arizona at the Palatki Heritage Site within the Coconino National Forest.  Here we spent three days doing trail work to create a walking path for the many visitors that come to learn about the area and the Native American tribes that used to live there.  The remainder of our trip was spent backpacking in the Grand Canyon and rafting the Colorado River.  On the final day of our trip we took part in another service activity which included picking up trash along Lake Mead in Boulder City, Nevada.

When I signed up for this trip, I knew it would require me to step outside of my comfort zone.  However, I wasn’t aware just how far outside of my comfort zone it would be.  When I found out I had been selected to go on the trip, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions.  I was so excited to go out west and see the beauteous Grand Canyon while taking part in activities I had never done before.  At the same time, I was very nervous to actually do all of these things.  I had never been backpacking or rafting before, and my biggest fear was that I would be the only one who was inexperienced and would end up being the weakest link.

When I arrived at the OAC the night before our trip began, I soon learned that I was not the only one who was new to all of this.  Many people on the trip had never been backpacking or rafting before either, and they were just as nervous as I was.  While taking part in these rigorous physical activities, I learned that I truly am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to.  In addition, I was fortunate enough to gain a new perspective of the world.  After spending so much time in nature, I learned what truly matters in life.  I found that appreciating the little things and keeping in mind the end goal can make all the difference.

Throughout my trip, I formed many great relationships with the other students on the trip.  It was these relationships that allowed me to set my nerves and fears aside, and truly gain the greatest experience I possibly could have during my time out west.  As I said before, there were many other people on this trip who were just as inexperienced as I was.  Once I learned that I was not the least experienced person on the trip, I was not afraid to put myself out there and try new things.  Having an open mindset was a crucial factor in getting the best out of this trip that I possibly could.

From all the physical activities I took part in, I learned that I am physically and mentally capable of much more than I thought.  There were times during the trail work that I was exhausted from working under the hot sun and just wanted to be done.  Yet, I never slacked off and I pushed myself to do my part of the teamwork to finish the trail.  While hiking in the Grand Canyon, there were times that I felt so fatigued I didn’t know how I’d walk for another 5 minutes, and yet I was able to hike another mile.  When it came time to raft in the Colorado River, I feared that I wasn’t strong enough to paddle through the rapids.  However, I set my fears aside and learned that with the proper technique, I was capable of doing so.  In addition, all the activities we did taught me to keep the bigger picture in mind.  While working on the trail, it was hard for me to notice and appreciate our progress.  However, getting to see the finished trail and knowing that I had a part in making it was very rewarding.  I was then able to use this outlook while backpacking and rafting.  When I found myself dreading how much further we had to hike or paddle, I reminded myself to see how much progress we had already made.

The overall experience of spending so much time in nature had an amazing impact on me.  It reminded me how beneficial it is to appreciate the little things and understand what truly is necessary in life.  While backpacking the Grand Canyon, our worries were not about our physical appearances or social media.  We were too busy taking in the glorious views of the Grand Canyon, forming new friendships, and doing what was necessary to survive.  It made me realize how inconsequential things are that we get so caught up in every day.  Since the trip, I have noticed that I no longer get on social media as much as I used to, or worry so much about my appearance.

 

 

 

 

Buck-I-Serv: Grand Canyon

Name: Shane O’Connor

Type of Project: Service Learning and Community Service

The Buck-I-Serv that I participated in for my STEP Signature Project traveled to Arizona and Nevada.  We helped preserve the Palatki Heritage site and learned of the history of the ancient dwellings.  We also had the opportunity to hike, camp, and raft in the Grand Canyon.

During this time, I had the chance to push past my comfort zone.  I pushed myself both physically and emotionally while on my Buck-I-Serv trip.  Physically, I pushed myself further than I thought I could, hiking seven miles with a large change in elevation in just one day.  The long hikes and personal time allowed me to consider things such as my future career path and the steps that I must take in order to achieve my goals.   Spending an extended period of time in nature gives one the freedom and time to think of things that would otherwise be forgotten.  I had this opportunity during my Signature Project, which allowed me to be more mindful.  Appreciating the work necessary to create the paths we walked on and the beauty of the canyon created an invigorating feeling.  These thoughts and feelings helped me feel at peace, and helped me to form relaxation techniques for when I am stressed.  In addition, it helped show me the scope of our world, which helped to put into perspective future conflicts that I may face.

Being able to work as a team when building the trail for the Palatki helped me to build bonds with people that I had known for just a few days. Even with new relationships and tiring manual labor, we kept our morale high in order to achieve our goals.  Not only were we able to succeed, but we did so having fun and creating friendships.  Having this work be the first thing we did in our Buck-I-Serv helped create friendships in our group, and was a great way to start our Buck-I-Serv experience.

Spending hours hiking in the Grand Canyon while carrying heavy packs was another exhausting, yet beneficial experience.  I was able to reflect on myself and the environment around me.  I had visited the canyon before but had never hiked it, let alone with a heavy weight on my back.  This slowed progress, however gave the benefit of increasing the time to think.  The scope of the Canyon made me feel small, and had a similar impact on the problems I was facing.  It helped me to realize that when problems arise, that oftentimes they are not the end of the world and to treat them as such.

I also learned a great deal about backpacking and rafting, as the trip leaders shared their knowledge generously as we faced new experiences.  This showed me the depth of knowledge necessary for an extended outdoors trip to be safe, and sparked an interest in the many details of leaving no trace that I would have never thought of.  I had never spent an extended amount of time in nature so I never thought of the many variables necessary to maintain the sanctity of nature.

These transformations are vital as I will hopefully be in the working world in just one year.  My time in the Grand Canyon helped me to quickly build relationships and work as a team with people that I did not know less than a week prior.  It showed me the benefits of hard work, as it was easy to see the development of our trail as we sweated in the heat.  Being able to accomplish what we did in less time than expected was extremely gratifying, and the teamwork necessary to accomplish it helped create lasting bonds.

Reinforcing the correlation between hard work and results was particularly important because of the perseverance necessary in order to achieve certification as an actuary.  As a part of my career goal, I will need to pass many certification exams, a process that will take hundreds if not thousands of study hours.  The path will feel like a roller coaster, with many triumphs and disappointments along the way.  The ability to maintain a clear vision of the end goal throughout these events is vital, and my time in Arizona helped give me the ability to prevent my approach of studying from fluctuating.

 

Ghana Buck-I-SERV, May 2018

My STEP Signature Project consisted of participating in an international Service-Learning experience through Buck-I-SERV. I traveled with a group of OSU students to a small childrens home in partnership with the Akumanyi Foundation where we assisted with everyday chores, helped teach kids in school, and aided in homework and afterschool activities. On the weekends we traveled around Ghana which brought a greater exposure to the surrounding culture.

 

One of the most influential parts of the Ghana trip was experiencing the Ghanaian culture. When thinking of the African nations, it is easy to group all of the countries in Africa as one. It was familiar to only know the stereotypical attributes “Africa” carries in America. But during my time over there, I found many of those stereotypes not to be true.

Prior to the trip I did not have any expectations in particular, however, I innately carried with me the perhaps common beliefs that West Africa is poverty-stricken and under-developed, with endless acres of dry desolate land.  This viewpoint was far from true. Immediately after stepping off the plane, we were greeted with 3 large busses similar to those found driving down High Street. Once departed from the airport, we endured rush hour traffic surrounded by 20-story buildings and business men in suits crossing the street. The capital, Accra, did not fit the believed stereotype.

A few hours outside the capital, we approached the dirt roads. We passed rows of small mud houses that had a sheet of metal for a roof. But around these areas was a landscape filled with hills of bright green. With it just being the beginning of rainy season, the color in the flowers, trees, and sky filled me with amazement with the beauty in the country and how polar it was from my original perception of West Africa.

 

As mentioned before, this experience exposed me to the many false stereotypes I had prior to the trip. This fact emphasized that these stereotypes are just that, stereotypes. They do not accurately display a place or portray a group of people. So in short, my experience allowed me to not only be more aware of stereotypes I may have, but it reiterated the negative generalizations that stereotypes come with.

Because I had found these stereotypes to be false early in the trip, I was able to disprove them and fully engage in the culture of Ghana. This began with forming relationships with staff in the Akumanyi Foundation and in the children’s home. We shared stories of our upbringing, learned some of the Twi language, and exchanged views on each of our home country. This exchange provided a new global perspective. I saw both the similarities and differences people my own age have in a different culture. Just experiencing their everyday responsibilities provided a new insight that can be used for personal growth.

These invalidations of stereotypes along with the engagement in the Ghanaian culture also promoted cultural awareness. Learning about the poverty that some areas in Ghana face and the efforts of the Akumanyi foundation, I gained a better understanding of the differences in daily responsibilities and activities.

 

The value of this experience lies in the global perspective and cultural awareness attained. This trip has given me the experience of international travel, and an exposure to a place and people that was unknown. The feelings, emotions, everyday activities and relationships that have come from this trip will continue to have a lasting impact on my views and I have journal entries from my time abroad to remind me of those things.

Looking to the future, this trip has confirmed my passion to continue service. It has showed me that when you help others, no matter how small the task, you are in turn helping yourself. This trip also has taught me that travel abroad is crucial for personal growth. However, it has proposed the idea that volunteering while you travel can have the potential to make your time abroad even more meaningful. Lastly, this trip had unexpectedly sparked a passion for incorporating my academic endeavors in engineering with volunteerism abroad. I plan to keep relations with the Akumanyi foundation and look forward to taking all I have learned from this trip and sharing it with others.

NYC Buck-I-Serv

Name: Sathvik Ravindran
Type of Project: Service-Learning and Community Service, New York City Buck-I-SERV
1.)For my STEP Signature Project, I went on a service trip to New York City to serve the HIV/AIDS populations. We helped to serve food, assist with administrative tasks for fundraising initiatives, learned about harm reduction and risk prevention and create safe-sex kits for the community outreach projects.
2.) This trip was transformative for me on many levels. I thought I had an understanding of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities but I returned to Ohio with a deeper understanding of these communities. I learned about one of the first organizations in the world since the start of the AIDS crisis aimed at HIV prevention, care, and advocacy for the afflicted communities. This organization has a deep history of advocacy for the HIV/AIDS afflicted communities. I was exposed directly to the HIV/AIDS communities and learned about the issues that they face. Through the transgender sensitivity workshop, I learned how to be respectful of others in the LGBTQ communities. I was also able to engage in direct service to this population by serving food during lunch service. Through the various trainings and workshops, I learned about the substance abuse, and transgender communities. I got the opportunity to learn the importance of Naloxone and how to administer it to save the life of someone who is overdosing on a narcotic/opioid. I now have a better understanding of the issues that HIV/AIDs populations face along with issues within the populations that are at a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. I thought I was well educated about Trans issues, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse before embarking on this trip. At the end of the week, I had an even deeper understanding of these demographics and populations.
It was also transformative to be able to participate in a cause and idea bigger than I am. The HIV/AIDS populations face various marginalization’s in our society. Some of these compound to create an increased risk of homelessness and lack of access to a proper diet amongst other issues. Health equity for all marginalized people is something I have been passionate about. To help this organization reach its goal to help serve its clients by serving food to assisting in various needed administrative tasks was eye-opening and fulfilling. I came to NYC excited to serve, but I left having served as well as gaining lots of important knowledge that will change the way I interact with these populations in the future.
3.) One experience that deeply affected me was while serving food to the clients. It was the end of the shift and the amount of patrons flowing had decreased. One patron seemed very disoriented and confused. The person ahead of me asked me what they wanted to eat for their main dish. The gentleman mumbled at first and then asked for everything. He then said that he wanted as much as possible because he had not eaten in 7 days.
I do not know if this was true, but I believed it and gave him pasta tuna salad and regular salad. I could not believe what I just heard and I wished it wasn’t true. I helped to serve this man’s first meal in days. He may have died if he had not made it to the cafeteria. I thought about him for the rest of the day and I have since frequently. I did not know his story or anything else really. GMHC helps to serve the HIV/AIDS community in so many ways and I was profoundly touched by helping to accomplish the mission statement.
Another event that affected me was being part of the diversity of workshops and trainings. I was able to learn about trans-sensitivity and inclusivity from an actual transgender person. I learned how to administer Narcan/Naloxone to someone who may be overdosing (I learned how to save a life). I learned how HIV/AIDS ravaged and still affects people today as well the little things we can do to decrease the stigma. This wealth of knowledge I will carry forward in my future experiences. Knowledge is truly power in that I can take away these experiences to help educate others and to combat the marginalization that the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS community faces.
4.) It’s been a month since I was in NYC and my heart is still full. I aspire to be a medical professional one day. I saw first-hand how these individuals were treated and are continued to be stigmatized due their identity and the status of a disease. I realized that health equity is a goal of mine. I hope one day, I can directly help to provide inclusive and affirming care to anyone regardless of class, race, romantic orientation and gender identity. I hope to carry forward the knowledge I have gained on this service trip to provide care that isn’t stigmatizing to members of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities and other marginalized peoples.

 

GMHC Buck-i-SERV

Name: Sathvik Ravindran

Type of Project: Service-Learning and Community Service, New York City Buck-I-SERV

1.)For my STEP Signature Project, I went on a service trip to New York City to serve the HIV/AIDS populations. We helped to serve food, assist with administrative tasks for fundraising initiatives, learned about harm reduction and risk prevention and create safe-sex kits for the community outreach projects.

2.) This trip was transformative for me on many levels. I thought I had an understanding of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities but I returned to Ohio with a deeper understanding of these communities. I learned about one of the first organizations in the world since the start of the AIDS crisis aimed at HIV prevention, care, and advocacy for the afflicted communities. This organization has a deep history of advocacy for the HIV/AIDS afflicted communities. I was exposed directly to the HIV/AIDS communities and learned about the issues that they face. Through the transgender sensitivity workshop, I learned how to be respectful of others in the LGBTQ communities. I was also able to engage in direct service to this population by serving food during lunch service. Through the various trainings and workshops, I learned about the substance abuse, and transgender communities. I got the opportunity to learn the importance of Naloxone and how to administer it to save the life of someone who is overdosing on a narcotic/opioid. I now have a better understanding of the issues that HIV/AIDs populations face along with issues within the populations that are at a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.  I thought I was well educated about Trans issues, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse before embarking on this trip. At the end of the week, I had an even deeper understanding of these demographics and populations.

It was also transformative to be able to participate in a cause and idea bigger than I am. The HIV/AIDS populations face various marginalization’s in our society. Some of these compound to create an increased risk of homelessness and lack of access to a proper diet amongst other issues. Health equity for all marginalized people is something I have been passionate about. To help this organization reach its goal to help serve its clients by serving food to assisting in various needed administrative tasks was eye-opening and fulfilling. I came to NYC excited to serve, but I left having served as well as gaining lots of important knowledge that will change the way I interact with these populations in the future.

3.) One experience that deeply affected me was while serving food to the clients. It was the end of the shift and the amount of patrons flowing had decreased. One patron seemed very disoriented and confused. The person ahead of me asked me what they wanted to eat for their main dish. The gentleman mumbled at first and then asked for everything. He then said that he wanted as much as possible because he had not eaten in 7 days.

I do not know if this was true, but I believed it and gave him pasta tuna salad and regular salad. I could not believe what I just heard and I wished it wasn’t true. I helped to serve this man’s first meal in days. He may have died if he had not made it to the cafeteria. I thought about him for the rest of the day and I have since frequently. I did not know his story or anything else really. GMHC helps to serve the HIV/AIDS community in so many ways and I was profoundly touched by helping to accomplish the mission statement.

Another event that affected me was being part of the diversity of workshops and trainings. I was able to learn about trans-sensitivity and inclusivity from an actual transgender person. I learned how to administer Narcan/Naloxone to someone who may be overdosing (I learned how to save a life). I learned how HIV/AIDS ravaged and still affects people today as well the little things we can do to decrease the stigma. This wealth of knowledge I will carry forward in my future experiences. Knowledge is truly power in that I can take away these experiences to help educate others and to combat the marginalization that the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS community faces.

4.) It’s been a month since I was in NYC and my heart is still full. I aspire to be a medical professional one day. I saw first-hand how these individuals were treated and are continued to be stigmatized due their identity and the status of a disease. I realized that health equity is a goal of mine. I hope one day, I can directly help to provide inclusive and affirming care to anyone regardless of class, race, romantic orientation and gender identity. I hope to carry forward the knowledge I have gained on this service trip to provide care that isn’t stigmatizing to members of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities and other marginalized peoples.

Staten Island Ferry

Group Picture at GMHC