You never know…

You never know…

Class of 2013 – Traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to work with the West Indies Christian Mission Row 1: Alison Hendrickson, Julie Jakmides, Jenny Gamertsfelder, Sarah Wroblewski, Jon Borrego. Row 2: Steve Kramer, Amy Ricciardi, Emily Christmas, Kelsey Tomlinson, Naoko Oyabu-Mathis, Zak Suhar. Row 3: Kody Severino, Megan Merlene, Kelly Slutz, Kathy Girton (host), … Read more

DRtrip

Class of 2013 – Traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to work with the West Indies Christian Mission

Row 1: Alison Hendrickson, Julie Jakmides, Jenny Gamertsfelder, Sarah Wroblewski, Jon Borrego.
Row 2: Steve Kramer, Amy Ricciardi, Emily Christmas, Kelsey Tomlinson, Naoko Oyabu-Mathis, Zak Suhar.
Row 3: Kody Severino, Megan Merlene, Kelly Slutz, Kathy Girton (host), Elana Anderson (cook), Mike Patterson, Jonathan Espacio (guide).

Over spring break, I had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic on a service trip. It was part of the social responsibility and personal well-being course offered at Mount Union, and it was quite an awesome experience.

It was an AMAZING experience. I learned so much about another culture, the other people on the trip and myself. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow and do service at Mount Union, but this one was definitely one of the best.

We did a lot of work while over there. We mixed cement the old-fashioned way, we painted at least six rooms and we helped feed more than 200 people in a dump village. In a dump village, people actually live in little communities next to the local landfill, and that’s where they get their meals.

I also learned a lot about the people on the trip with me. Every night we would share our life stories, and I grew to realize that with any given person, I have a lot more in common with them than not. I look at life and people a little differently now because of that.

BUT! You’re probably wondering what this has to do with music and the arts, since I typically blog about the arts. Well, I’ll tell you.

Before we headed to the Dominican Republic, our host Kathy Girton asked what we were interested in and good at. She wanted to know what we could do with any kids we worked with, and how to make the free day enjoyable. So naturally, I said singing and music.

Well! On day one, we were headed to work with a bunch of kids. And we worked with a ton of kids; that was probably a majority of the trip. We played with bubbles, jump ropes or just gave them piggyback rides. It was awesome.

But I digress. On day one, Kathy hands me this book of Spanish songs. And I’m like: Uh oh. I don’t know any of these songs, if I mess up all the kids will know…

So I look through the pages. Then I realize, I CAN read this music! We’ve been learning solfeg in choir for the last three years! Solfeg is a method of assigning notes a syllable, like do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti. Because the intervals between the syllables never change, I can assign syllables to notes in music and sight-read it.

And that’s exactly what I did. Within minutes I had a song or two completely down, and I was so excited.

First, because it was really empowering. I could have been totally lost, but I wasn’t.

Second, because it was so great to use my music knowledge! People say, “Why do I have to take this class, I’ll never use it.” Well, you never truly know where you’re gonna use the knowledge you acquire in a class. And this Dominican Republic moment proves it!

For pictures of our trip, check out this video!

Stretch Yourself Through Experiential Learning

Stretch Yourself Through Experiential Learning

My Social Responsibility and Personal Well-Being course has arrived back on campus after a week of service in Santo Domingo, a moving experience to say the least. We worked with West Indies Christian Ministries participating in service for its school and working with kids at the site for the entire week. Some highlights of the … Read more

My Social Responsibility and Personal Well-Being course has arrived back on campus after a week of service in Santo Domingo, a moving experience to say the least. We worked with West Indies Christian Ministries participating in service for its school and working with kids at the site for the entire week. Some highlights of the trip were plastering the side of a Dominican church (after mixing concrete in the street), giving food donations to a community living next to a landfill, playing with children and teaching them team dynamics and making other clothes and equipment donations. This experience made me realize that simple is better, and to try to live a more relaxing or tranquillo lifestyle.

It was also a great time to practice more and more Spanish, and interacting with Dominican children who’s Spanish was probably better than mine. I am certain there were a few times where they were poking fun at me, and I just couldn’t understand them! That being said, some dialect was different, and I now find myself repeating ‘que lo que’ (what’s up) and ‘tranqi’ (short for tranquillo or relaxed) whenever possible in the states. We also rode around the countryside in ‘guagua’s’ or smaller buses, my new favorite Spanish word. There are times when you would see a group of 15 inside a small guagua with two backlights out and a door missing!

The trip promotes a sort of class style that I am very fond of and that our professor believes in too, called experiential-based learning. David Kolb is a doctorate who studies this sort of learning and states that experiential learning is ‘education that occurs as a direct participation in the events of life.’ Here learning is not sponsored by some formal educational institution but by people themselves. It is learning that is achieved through reflection upon everyday experience and is the way that most of us do our learning. This was very effective, as our class reflected on the day behind us, every night.

As I said before, I was moved by the trip, especially after some of that group reflection and response time. Professor Kramer offered a bit of life advice, saying to stretch yourself through experiences whether its socially, culturally, spiritually or intellectually. I felt that this trip did exactly that, improving my view on gratitude, finding meaning in life, stretching me beyond my limits and comfort zone. This trip has definitely made itch and want to travel more! Where to next, any suggestions?

Social Responsibility Trip to the DR!

Social Responsibility Trip to the DR!

This semester I am enrolled in Dr. Kramer’s Social Responsibility and Personal Well-Being course, one that I already highly recommend. We are reading several incredible books, like World on Edge, full of factoids on how to make the world a better place, and also find ourselves within deep conversation on achieving personal growth within our … Read more

This semester I am enrolled in Dr. Kramer’s Social Responsibility and Personal Well-Being course, one that I already highly recommend. We are reading several incredible books, like World on Edge, full of factoids on how to make the world a better place, and also find ourselves within deep conversation on achieving personal growth within our lives. One of the reasons I was drawn to the course in the first place as well was the spring break service trip to a Spanish speaking country.

Originally we planned to go to El Salvador, but due to a travel warning, we weren’t able to go and are now headed to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. In the DR, our class will be working with West Indies Christian Ministries participating in service for its school and working with kids at the site for the entire week. Although we leave on Saturday at 2:15 in the morning to catch an early flight out of Cleveland, I am stoked for the trip.

I have been itching to practice my Spanish more since returning from Spain, and am glad I can be immersed in another spanish speaking culture. I also plan to document the trip through photo and video, potentially making a digital short or documentary if you will. Who knows! I also am excited to pack as little as possible for this trip to really challenge and stretch myself. I am very excited for the trip, and will share many fotos upon our return!

Later, and have fun on your very own spring break trip! Hasta luego, y diviértete en su viaje de vacaciones de primavera!