Tag Archives: service

Second Day in Rwanda

by Vanessa Baker ’19

Today was our second day in Rwanda. It began with me sleeping through my wake-up call from Nora and then receiving one from Lea, which I actually woke up for. We were half asleep over a breakfast of papaya, toast, chapati, and coffee. After breakfast, we had a strenuous walk to the George Fox Primary School in order to continue our work from the day before. We were in the process of redecorating two rooms, one a library and one a soon to be computer room with the laptops we collected from GS. We had already whitewashed the rooms the day before but today was for painting the rooms a different color. After we worked for about three hours, the kids began to come out and distract us with their cuteness. Deanna chased them with paint on her fingers while they tugged at Lea, Sofia, and Ashleigh’s hair. At 1, we went to the Kigali Peace Center to have a lunch of watermelon and bread with butter. We went back to work where we finished up painting the walls and windowsills and began adding decorations. After we finished working, we went to an arts center that featured beautiful paintings from several Rwandan artists. Once we were finished walking around looking at the artwork, we went outside to find the dancing that we were promised by Polly. There was a group of kids that were practicing dances and we watched for about 20 minutes until they invited us to dance along with them! We then went to a restaurant to eat beef, goat, and chicken shish kabobs where Nora and I sung a beautiful rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” After dinner, we drove back to the Friends Peace Garden, the place we’re staying at, for a night of card games and not working wifi. It’s been a good two days.

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Rwanda

by Sofia Frascella ’19 

Today we went to the market in Kigali before we traveled to Byumba. We got to see how the Rwandans shop for crafts, crops, clothes and other items. As we were shopping we got to attempt to bargain to lower the prices and it was a great glimpse into true Rwandan culture. We had another delicious, authentic meal at a buffet in downtown Kigali. We then got on the road and traveled to our next stop; Byumba. When we arrived to the guest house, Camille, Nora and I were hit with a surprise that our triple had quite a few spiders and no mosquito nets. After about an hour of adjusting our room we finally found a solution. This was a perfect example of how these service trips do not always go as planned, but there is always a solution to the problems. Tomorrow we start our work on the local friends library. I’m excited to work more with painting and really hope we get to interact with the kids more!

See our pictures here!

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Rwanda

by Ashleigh Azan ’19

We were up and ready for breakfast at 7:30 like most mornings where we had the usual hard-boiled eggs, fruit and coffee. By 8:00 we were in the church ready to start our workshop with HIPP. HIPP stands for Help Increase Peace Program which is a program set up to teach people about non violent conflict resolution so we can help ourselves as well as others. The day was full of thoughtful discussions and fun activities in which we were all learning from one another. Today was a lot morning interactive and discussion based than yesterday which made it easier for us to engage with one another. The final activity we did was split into small group where we answered the queries what it feels like for us to give back and for the Rwandans, how it feels for us to be here helping them.

After speaking in our groups we came together and shared some of the things we learned. You could tell people learned a lot from that activity and had more of an understanding of the differences and similarities in the two cultures. My favorite part of the day was playing a very competitive game of football with  our new Rwanda friends. It definitely brought us together and was a fun experience. We then played all the way up until dinner. We ended the night activities with a talk from “Momma Eve” about the work she does with survivors of the Genocide and refugees which was very heartwarming to hear about. Now we are all gathered in the common area ending the night off with out typical music and card games.

 

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Arizona Day 4

by Anney ’20

Thursday night was the last night we spent with our host families. In the evening, we and our host families all had dinner together, talking and sharing with each other the experiences we’ve had. Although it has only been four days, we all felt a sense of belonging to this big family.

After dinner, each of us got to spend some time with our host families. Mel and I were hosted by Adrienne, and as we talked, she showed us pictures of students from previous service trips. I found it beautiful how members of George School from different times are all connected by this Arizona service trip.

After departing from the host families Friday morning, we spend Friday afternoon hiking at the Grand Canyon, 1.5 miles down the Bright Angel Trail. We were astonished by the terrific landscape of the Grand Canyon, as well as the animals we saw along the way, such as elks and mountain goats. Although the hike was tiring, it was a delightful and memorable experience.

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Cuba Day 2

by Priya Tarpley ’18

Our first full day in Holguín was nothing short of eventful.  We woke up at around 7, and headed down to desayuno at 8.  Our Cuban breakfast consisted of fruit like mango and piña, black coffee, scrambled eggs with chopped peppers, tamarind and mango juice, pound cake, and pizza triangles that were thicker than we’re used to.  This morning we also saw two of our George School friends, Roxy and Meli.  My junior year, I lived in East on the same floor as Meli, and it was nice to see a familiar face after so long.  Today was also our first day of service, and Alberto separated us for different projects. Annarose and I were charged with the task of cleaning the rice by removing the debris and pieces of husk from the bag. Although seemingly menial, I got a chance to practice my Spanish with Maria, Annarose, and Meli. It was a reminder of the preparation it takes to make the food for all of us, and a testament to how filtered our lives are back home.

Later, we exchanged our money for CUCs, colorful bills in 5’s and 3’s, and the 1’s were octagonal coins. After lunch, bellies full of guava paste squares, rice and carne, and chickory bean soup, Roxy lead us through the streets of Holguín.  There were so many marketplaces, and we ended up splitting into groups to get snack and check out the Calixto Garcia plaza.  Angie, JoceLynn, Ike, Annarose and I ended up at an ice cream shop called La Única, where we sat down and were served as if we were in a restaurant.  My scoop of ice cream was less than a CUC. It was a sweet oasis from Holguín’s afternoon heat.

The rain has been a force these past few days, and although it doesn’t start until later in the day, it comes down heavily.  So right after getting our ice cream, we hustled back to the church to take breather and watch the thunderstorm pass.

As I write this, Cuba continues to be an interesting experience.  From the food, the visual history, and the atmosphere Holguín is a place that I am happy to come home for the next two weeks.

¡Hasta luego!

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Arizona Day 1

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by Charlie ’19

Over the past four days, we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the kids in Kayenta. We’ve helped them in their classes, through lunch and recess, and getting on the busses to go home. Today we organized a field day for their last day of summer school. There were many relays, games, and a water station so that they could cool down and keep hydrated. They seemed to really enjoy playing with us and I loved cheering them on when the succeeded (especially when they were afraid to make mistakes. They are not only adorable, but their unabashed excitement and friendliness has warmed our hearts. There were some tears today when we had to leave (from both us and them), but a few of us made plans to be pen-pals in the upcoming year.

Fiona, Mitch, and I have been staying with Lena, who helped organize our trip and works at the school. She has been so caring and warm towards us, and her very young and incredibly cute granddaughter comes in almost every night to make sure that we are ok and that we know to take our shoes off. Although we haven’t spent much time there, we all got a chance to talk with her and she told us about her parents.

We also have visited and hiked in various parts of the reservation, including Canyon de Chelly and along the toes (rocks shaped like toes just outside of Kayenta). We visited Monument Valley and purchased traditional jewelry and ornaments. It’s been incredible to be so immersed in the Navajo culture and experience the kindness of everyone here. It’s saddening that we don’t get to spend more time here, but we are excited to continue with our journey to Page and Flagstaff.

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Rwanda Day 3

Rwanda3

by Liam Bernard ’19 

We had a very fun and productive day today. As usual we started with breakfast at the Friends Peace Garden, the last we would have there for the next two days, and then headed to Children’s Peace Library in Kigali for our last work day there. Being the last day there, we had to bring our book and computer donations with us. Among those were soccer balls for the children – something that would come in handy when they swarmed us later in the morning. At the library we did our final touch ups on the wall art and lettering on the outside walls, and then moved furniture and cleaned the floor inside again. As we were working outside for the most part today, we were greeted by many curious children as they watched us paint. We didn’t have much time to work once they came though as we were distracted playing soccer with them with the new balls we brought, and all of the piggy back and shoulder rides they begged for. Once we had finished eating lunch, we headed back to finish cleaning up and then jumped on the bus to Musanze. The ride was so beautiful. We enjoyed the picturesque landscape outside of Kigali, with views of lush hills and trees. We saw another side of Rwanda that seemed untouched, unlike the densely populated city of Kigali. Once we arrived and checked into the new hotel we had dinner together to finish off the day on a high note. I am looking forward to the golden monkey hike we have scheduled tomorrow, and the possibility that we may see gorillas while we are there.

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Day 13, last day of work, Mississippi Clarksdale

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by Kaitlyn Lee ’19

Today is our last day here in Mississippi. Over these two weeks, we met lots of wonderful people, learnt the foundation of building houses, bonded with one another through this hardship, and we have survived. In my mind, I still feel like we were here just yesterday and time flies so fast. I still remember the time I was exhausted through priming the walls in Tutwiler, till this day where my right arm is still sore from hammering the top of the house in Clarksdale.

We worked only on the second house today, and witnessed how to make the concrete as the foundation of the shed. Since we didn’t have access to the water we were supposed to have, a concrete truck came by and poured in the concrete as opposed to making the concrete ourselves. We successfully made the concrete for the shed and also the pavement for the sidewalk outside the front door. I was surprised how Ben reused the excess concrete from making the shed and turned it to the sidewalk. This was my first time actually witnessing the making of a foundation, and I was intrigued by how you turn seemingly useless dirt and cracked concrete into a brand new one. It was a very insightful experience.

After all the work, we took our group picture with Ben (our supervisor) and headed back to the dorm. We cleaned up the dorm, ready for tomorrow’s departure.

Originally, I wasn’t excited to give up my spring break in order to do service in a place I have never been to and with people I have mostly never met before. But after this experience, I understood that doing service isn’t a burdensome thing after all. I learnt many new things from people that came from very different backgrounds from me, and I enjoyed this experience of learning their culture and (of course) their unique accents. I think I also grew an interest in country music (I never thought I would say this) and understood a lot more about the history and culture of the southern part of the United States.

At the end of this blog, I would like to thank everyone we encountered through this trip, especially Valerie, Brendan and Emma for taking the time to lead the trip. Thank you for being so considerate and working so hard to make sure we enjoy this trip as much as we worked.

Once again, thank you and it’s time for dinner.

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Mississippi

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by Max Malavsky ’18

After a long day yesterday we woke up, ate a breakfast that consisted of baked oatmeal, cereal, and oranges, then we piled into the vans ready for another day of work.

We roll up to the “worksite” (the house we’ve been working on) at around 9am, hop out of the vans and meet up with Ben at the front of the house. The door is already open and the group files into our places. At this house, we worked on making face boards and frames for doors. Beau, Ben, and I focused on taking down the lengths of the frames and figuring out the correct angle measurements that were needed to accurately make a frame. After Beau found the necessary length of one side of the frame, Ben would take it out to me at the saw. There, Ben and I would find the angle that would make the frame fit. Don’t get me wrong, this process was very tedious and time-consuming, but it got the job done and Ben insisted that this was not only the correct way, but the only way that we could accurately make measurements on the frames.

We worked in the morning from 9-12. Beau and I filled the house with music, while sparking conversations about today’s rap music with Ben and the other members of our group. It turns out that Ben happens to be a huge 2Pac and Snoop Dog fan. When asked what his favorite album of all time was, he immediately replied, “Dude, are you serious? The Chronic 2001, of course.” We carried this discussion throughout our morning work until we were interrupted by Wanda. Wanda works in Clarksdale and came into our house. She was impressed with our work and by the fact that we were giving up our spring break to work with Habitat for Humanity, and decided to by us Dominos for lunch! The group gathered outside and talked about the afternoon’s activities while we were waiting for Wanda to bring us our lunch. After a few minutes of small talk, Wanda arrived at the worksite and we took the pizza back to our Habitat house for lunch.

During lunch we made major progress on our new pastime: puzzles. Puzzles and 2018 Mississippi Service Trip go together like peanut butter and jelly. We have taken puzzling to an entirely new level and have put in WAY too many hours into completing the three puzzles we’ve already conquered on this trip. We are currently trying to tackle a 2,000 piece puzzle as of now and it is going quite smoothly.

After lunch we once again piled into the vans and headed to the second house that we have been working on this week. Here, Beau, Ben, Alyssa, Jacob and I headed to the back of the house to dig ditches in the scorching Mississippi afternoon sun. We listened to music and continued our conversation from earlier in the day about our individual tastes in music. It has been great getting to know Ben over these past couple of days, he is definitely a person that I plan on writing to after this trip. During the afternoon, we worked from 1:30-4. Once we finished, we drove back to our Habitat house for some puzzling before our potluck dinner.

Ben and Nat came to our house at 5:30 and cooked until 6:45. During this time, the members of the group played with the neighborhood kids. I developed a close connection with a young boy whose name I think is “Darius” but he cannot speak very well so honestly I’m not quite sure what his name is, so I told everyone to call him D. He is a very aggressive child who loves to pull hair and threaten other kids. However, we bonded very quickly. He always asks me to carry him, he sits me down to talk to him, and gives me the occasional kiss on the cheek.

It was time for dinner, we said goodbye to the kids and sat down for a delicious meal. Once the meal was finished, our guests left and the members of the group returned to our new favorite hobby. Yes, you guessed it, puzzling.

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Mississippi

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by Susie Mott ’18

I emerged from the girls’ dorm at 8:00 this morning to a finished 1,000-piece puzzle. I admire the determination it took to do this in one night.

Today, Ben had us installing hurricane clips and assembling the wooden foundation for a shed on South Edwards Ave. The hurricane clip crew worked along the perimeter inside, thoroughly nailing metal to beams and walls such that the roof ought to remain on this house in high winds. The rest of us filed outside, where we moved a pile of wood scrap across the yard – uncovering a newt, and a whole bunch of roly-polies! When starting the shed, Ben made sure each of us got a turn with the hammer, offering mini motivational speeches to anyone who became unsure or frustrated with the task, ensuring that we finished each nail off well.

Two other men showed up to help at this site; Bill and Mark, wielding a power saw. Mark addressed us collectively as “teens.” “Hey, teens!” “Teens! Come help with this!” I spent much of the morning standing by the scaffolding as a safety measure (“If we fall, that’s our mistake. If you don’t catch us, that’s your mistake, and there will be lawsuits! Lawyers everywhere!”), and found out that they’re history teachers. They offered to let me have a go with the saw, but asked Valerie first, and she vetoed this on account of my safety.

We had the afternoon off work, so by popular demand Valerie and Emma drove us to have a look at Ole Miss. I conked out in the van, as did most of my peers, but I was aware enough to notice the shift out the window from cotton fields, patched-up houses, metal fences, mallards swimming around the trunks of trees in opaque flood water, to neatly manicured lawns and huge houses enclosed by walls. I noticed benches in town designed such that homeless people won’t sleep on them.

Ole Miss is big. Just, so huge. We left Valerie and Emma at a Starbucks and trotted off to explore Oxford, Mississippi. This involved Insomnia Cookies, a book store, a bright red British telephone booth, and the most interesting-looking shop on the square: End of All Music, a record shop accessible by a staircase in an alley. We also noted a couple of Confederate memorial statues. We piled back into the vans as bells rang “For the Beauty of the Earth” across the university.

We visited Ground Zero Blues Club for dinner and music. Morgan Freeman was there. He high-fived me and shook my hand. I swear this actually happened and I’m not just redoing Terry Culleton’s surrealism assignment.

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