South Carolina Service Trip 2013 Journal Posts

Below are journal posts from some of the members of the South Carolina service trip 2013. Enjoy!

Monday, March 11th, 2013 – Cate Munkittrick ‘14
Well, today was my first day of actually doing service for Habitat. It definitely was not what I have expected in my head. I thought we would be in this little neighborhood out in the country, building a house. As it turned out, our first day was a bunch of little rehab projects on houses. At first, I was a little disappointed that we wouldn’t all be working together to create a house we could take pride in building. I had envisioned myself working under the sun, hammering away. Well the sun eventually came out today, which was a welcomed sight. And I realized that working on a bunch of little rehab projects was still making a significant difference in the Greenwood community, which is why I wanted to go on a service trip in the first place. We were able to interact with about four sets of homeowners and they were all so incredibly gracious for our work.

I had the pleasure of caulking windows for the first time today. Needless to say it was quite a sloppy job (Mike was polite to comment). I apologized to the homeowner, but he didn’t care how the window looked as long as it stayed in place. I realized how paradoxical this situation would be in my town. Most people who live there would flip out if they found out an inexperienced 21 year old girl was caulking their windows and leaving smudges everywhere. However, the homeowners in Greenwood were simply appreciative of the work being done, not caring (or not affording to care) of the quality of the job. This situation reminded me of how easy it can be to become obsessed with how you are perceived by others. It saddens me to see the length people in my town will go to just portray the ideal “well-to-do” appearance in terms of their homes and themselves. The homeowners in Greenwood reminded me of how much more important it is to connect with people on the personal level and not to try and live up to a superficial standard some people try to set.

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 – Sean Brennan ‘14

(Dirt Road Anthem tune)

Greenwood Anthem

Chillin on Lindsey Road
Laid back swervin’ like Clyde Blizzard
Ridin’ dirty rollin’ out like wind
Barry’s tin sittin’ in the console
Memory lane up in the headlights
It got me reminding on them good times.
I’m turnin’ of a real life drive and that’s right
I’m hittin’ easy street with van times

Back on Monday Phoenix Street was the place to go
Load the vans up and hit the main road
Jump the curl, spread the word
Light the bonfire then call the crew
Barry’s dip and Larry’s pipe
Papa John n’ Mike were a few good men
Where you learned to shingle, paint and stomp too.

Better watch out for the boys in the crew
All this small town he said she said
Ain’t it funny how stories spread?
Like I know something y’all don’t know
Man painter Bob is getting old
You better mind your business man,
Watch your mouth
Before I have to know that loud mouth out
I’m tired of talking man y’all ain’t listening
That old Greenwood is what y’all missing?

I sit back and think about them Greenwood days
The way we worked in the southern ways
And we like sweet tea and un-sweet too
And if its broke can there we fix it
I can tell y’all where to go
Down to the West Muster back in the woods
We do it different down here that’s right
But we sure do it good and we do it all night
So if you really want to know how it feels
To get off the road with vans and Dickinson logos
Jump on in and tell your friends
We’ll raise some hell where the city limit ends

(Chorus X2)

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Alabama Service Trip 2013 Journal Posts


Below are some of the journal posts written by the Alabama Spring 2013 service trip members. Enjoy!

Friday, March 8th, 2013 – Jasmine Britton ‘12
So, yesterday we left for the Alabama trip. I can’t believe how fast everything happened. It seems like just the other day we were interviewing everyone and now we are on the road! I’m super excited for what is to come and can’t wait for the memories to begin. I hope that while on this service trip I will get to know everyone on a closer level and build new friendships. I also hope to gain stronger leadership skills that will allow me to communicate clearly and effectively. Going on this trip means a lot to me and I hope that I can be of service to everyone and anyone who needs it. I look forward to writing more, but until then I will leave you with these questions: who do you serve? How do you serve? Why do you serve? Each service trip I ask myself these questions, & each time I learn something new about myself.

Frieda Adu-Brempong
Hours on end,
To reach an anticipated nowhere
Where city stress can’t touch
Warmth of sun
Politeness of stars
Did I tell you about the time Dixie stole my heart?
It was the weekend of March 8th
Post a week of putting ink to paper
Trying to make mentions of 89 & above
It was a long weekend…
Until my eyes became fixed
Oh beautiful sunset
Blue, Pink, and Orange
Like University of Tennessee
Pit stops at gas stations
Like in the movies
Or when dirt road net cow
Met horse
Or trespassing college students
Met baking dogs
I mean loving puppies
Hush puppies
Met belly…
Alabama knew the detour to my heart
Was through my stomach
And so she cater to me
Rubbed my back like morning hike
And foot rubbed laughter
She reminded me of playground
And ball-toss
Rock climbing
Childhood shenanigans
She gave gifts like people
Except I lost the receipt for some!
She reminded me that there is so much more in this world
To be seen, to know
And while I can’t reach it at once
She’s willing to host me
For the time being
I only hope that our love isn’t temporary
Cause ‘Bama keeps running circles through my mind, literally!
How many U-turns does a college student need to make to realize that
It’s never been about the destination,
But the journey
And surely my dearest,
You are worth the trip.

Friday, March 15th, 2013 – Kerry Richmond ‘16
Right now I’m sitting in a hotel in Knoxville, TN after our last day of service and hours of driving. It’s overwhelming to think that tomorrow I will be back at Dickinson. Back to reality.
When I decided to come on this service trip, I wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on my life. I thought I would do some service, help some people, come home and go on with my life. I didn’t expect to become real friends with anyone on the trip. I didn’t expect anything but a way to pass my spring break that didn’t involve me sleeping until 3 and watching Netflix.
I feel like the connections I have made on this trip are the purest I have found at Dickinson. Last night during reflection I was talking to Emily and Colleen about the loneliness I have felt at Dickinson, and the sheer force of their support and interest was amazing. It was genuinely the first time I have really felt accepted at college, and it made me really appreciate this trip and the people it has shaped. I overheard Dilbert, the head of the Parish, talking the other day about the work he does and he said, “as long as we are alive, we can work to change our situation. What happens in the past doesn’t really matter. We can do something about it.” That really stuck with me. Coming to a school where I knew no one has been a lot harder than I expected, and I feel like I have spent too much of my time mourning my past and feeling sorry for myself, while not doing anything to change it.
This is all really incoherent and random, and I can’t lift my arms over my head because they are so sore from the work yesterday, but I guess I am trying to say that I haven’t been this content, motivated, and inspired in a very long time. I am so grateful for the opportunity to go on this trip, as well as for the wonderful people around me who opened up, listened, and made me feel like I was important. Service is now an integral part of my life and myself. I can’t picture existence without it.

As an administrator on these trips nothing makes me happier than seeing students tearing down the invisible walls that are imposed between people.-Pavan

It’s a much different group of people than I surround myself with at Dickinson. -Riley

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Community Service Leaders “This I Believe”


This year the Community Service and Religious Life staff have been reading different passages from the book “This I Believe,” which offers different perspectives about values and stories of others. As they dive into the second semester, they have reflected upon the different stories they have read, along with the experiences they have had in their work this year. What do they believe? Below are reflections written by Heather Gesit and Rachel Jordan on what they believe.

Heather Geist ’15
I believe in taking the time to listen. Every individual has a story – a piece of their background that they carry with them. Some people wear their story on their sleeve and share it openly, while others keep it tucked safely away. And then there are others who don’t always remember.
The residents of the Thornwald Home have such personality. As I started my sophomore year of college, I knew that this nursing home was where I would be working, but I knew nothing much about it. After an initial rocky start to the new community service program that we created at Dickinson College, I began attending weekly to help, along with other students, in the large Wednesday night activities. Playing games with the residents is always something fun, but in the hustle and bustle of organizing, conducting, and concluding the games, I still wasn’t getting the chance to know who these people I was working with really were.
waterfall After bowling one night (an extremely popular event), I was escorting some residents back to their rooms. I sent one particular resident on her way to walk back, while I wheeled another resident to her specific room for the evening. While I was walking back to return to the multi-purpose area, I saw the woman I had sent back earlier searching around. Now, she is truly a woman of character and cracks jokes all the time, but in that moment I saw confusion and concern. After joking with her for a few moments as I guided her back to her room, I paused outside the door where some pictures of her and her family were sitting in a shadow box.I always thought it was better not to take the time and ask about the resident’s past, because of the off chance they wouldn’t remember, which could cause them some distress. I decided to take my chances and asked her about the animals and people in the pictures. In the moment I stepped out and decided that it was worth the time to hear her story, I heard anecdotes and recollections coming from someone who couldn’t even remember her current room number. The most powerful moment in all of the conversation was her smile – the smile that didn’t leave for a full 10 minutes as she shared about her children, husband and pets. I heard the silly stories, the things she missed the most, but I didn’t see any of the forgetfulness as I had moments earlier.
I don’t know what this resident may have gotten out of our conversation, but I do know that I learned a lot about a woman I hadn’t known in this way before, and for those few minutes, she remembered some of the happiest moments in her life. Every individual has a story to tell, and if there is one thing I have learned through my experiences this year, it is to take the time to listen.

Rachel Jordan ’13
The last few weeks of my junior year, after applying for numerous research positions throughout the Northeast and being rejected from every one, my mother said, “Why don’t you email the Dickinson professors in the biology department?” I assured her that all the professors had already had their summer research students for months now, and that emailing them would be a waste of time. In all her wisdom, she said, “There’s no harm in trying.” I sent out several emails that night to professors, totaling about 30 minutes of time out of my day. Within the next 2 days, I was matched up with a Dickinson biology professor happy to add another student to his team, and by the end of the week I was squared away with on-campus summer housing and a stipend.
Whenever I reflect on my experiences within the Montgomery Service Leaders program, and previously the Bonner Leaders program, I can’t help but remember that I almost didn’t try. As a freshman only several weeks into college, I was sure that joining the program would be too much of a time commitment on top of playing a sport and being a science major. However, my mother persuaded me to just fill out the application and go from there. If I felt like it was too much later on, I could always drop it. Although there have been times I can’t believe how many things I have committed to, Montgomery has truly been one of the most rewarding programs I could have joined at Dickinson. I have done 3 years worth of work with non-profits, 2 service trips to New Orleans, and 1 AmeriCorp term. It has also allowed me the opportunity to be the Senior Intern.img_2374.jpg
As you can probably assume at this point, I was hesitant to apply for the Senior Intern position. I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the hours and responsibilities required, especially in the Spring when I was in-season. However, I had had a desire to hold the position and take on more of a leadership role within the program since I had joined as a freshman. I’m very glad that I took my mother’s advice and just tried.
I have learned so much from my position as the Senior Intern this year, gaining confidence in leading meetings, building my decision making skills, and developing my time management abilities. Throughout the year, I have had to push myself to try new things, even if they were outside my comfort zone, including leading group activities, revising and creating new aspects of the program, and making tough decisions. It has been an indescribable experience, and I think about how much I would have missed out on if I hadn’t pushed myself to just try, whether it be leading a meeting, applying for the Senior Intern position, or applying for Bonner/MSL at all.
Therefore, I will continue, throughout the rest of this semester and beyond graduation, to force myself to step outside my comfort zone and reap the benefits of trying new things that don’t seem possible at first. The moral of the story is there’s no harm in trying. Or maybe it’s to always listen to your mother (just don’t tell her I said that).

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Neighbors to Neighbors

The Neighbors to Neighbors program is a fairly new program which recruits first-year students and introduces them to the various types of community service activities available within the Dickinson and Carlisle Community. The three liasons of the Neighbors to Neighbors program are Bernadette Brandt’13, Alejandra Chavez’14, and Heather Geist’15. Below you will find a quick blurb from the liasons about their amazing experiences they have had working alongside the Dickinson community. We would like to extend a tremendous “Thank you!” to all the volunteers and the liasons for making this program so successful!

“The Adams Neighborhood works with Downtown Neighborhood Connection (DNC), a local nonprofit that works to strenghten residential neighborhoods, with an emphasis on encouraging home ownership, rehabilitationg older buildings, improving older neighborhoods and avoiding blight. Past projects for students have included working in community gardens, community cleanup days, and painting recycling bins for the borough to use.”
-Bernadette Brandt’13

“As one of the liaisons for N2N I have worked alongside Bosler’s Children’s library tutoring middle school students with Quads Neighborhood first-years residents. It has been an amazing experience building a community within the first years through service.”
-Alejandra Chavez’14

“Being a liaison between Drayer Hall and the Thornwald Home has been such a rewarding experience. Not only have I been able to connect and get to know the first-year students, but I have also had the pleasure of getting to know all the residents and staff at Thornwald. Both students and residents agree that a few hours spent at Thornwald on Wednesday nights if fun for all, whether we are bowling, playing shuffle board, or helping out with a craft. The enthusiasm and positive attitude of the Dickinson students has really made an impression on our community partner and I hope it is a relationship that continues to grow!”
-Heather Geist’15

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James George NOLA 2013 Reflection



James George’15 reflects upon his experience on the New Orleans 2013 service trip.

We are on the last flight back to Harrisburg and everyone is exhausted. We had a great week of service in Slidell.
I have never engaged in this type of service before and I am very thankful for having the opportunity to do so. Before considering going on a Dickinson Service Trip, I sporadically volunteered for other charity organizations and really enjoyed the experiences, but this service trip felt incredibly productive and influential. I loved the group atmosphere and the thoughtful reflection at the end of every day. As an English major, I love to discuss important concepts and ideas. I really enjoyed a lot of the comments and opinions shared in reflection. I felt like everyone took the sessions very seriously and put forth their best effort to push their perspective on the trip and service in general.

Personally, I felt like my perspective on many things have altered throughout the trip; most importantly, service and my Dickinson education.
When I began the trip, I was never surrounded by a group of people that cared very deeply about serving others. I have had friends with similar interests in service but I was never a part of a large group connected by a common goal. It was an amazing experience. Being able to share in a week of service and personal reflection was much needed in my life at this point. Over winter break of this year, I felt compelled to apply for summer jobs/internships and basically figure out my life for the next few years at least. I enjoyed many discussions about study abroad and planning for a productive senior year but I never stopped to breathe. This has been a problem recently – just taking a break and reflecting on the things that really matter to me.

My impression of Dickinson has never been bad – in fact, I rather love it there and I am very grateful to have chosen to enroll. I have experienced a lot and met very interesting people on campus, but engaging with a group of mostly strangers off campus has greatly changed my perspective of Dickinson. Getting to share this great experience with peers and administrators at my own college is ideal because it created an open dialogue about typical Dickinson (college, world, life) problems we are all well aware of. Issues such as social environment, academics, policy, and others were given a lot of thought. I really enjoyed getting an intimate look at perspectives of such a diverse group of students.
After gaining so many positive experiences and relationships on this trip, I feel motivated to fully engage my college community, my local community, and my many future communities in a new and passionate way. I am ready to take every interaction and opportunity head on and gain everything I can from it.
I know it is thanks to this trip that my true Dickinsonian spirit has been more fully realized. I feel compelled to share this enthusiasm and experience to further inspire explorations, growth, and engaged outlooks at Dickinson.

Thank you to everyone on the trip and to everyone that made the trip possible! I love you guys!

-James George

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Q & A with Colleen Berger, Community Service Student Leader


Q & A With Colleen Berger

Q: What is your name, class year, and the position you held on the NOLA trip? What were your responsibilities?
A: My name is Colleen Berger, I am a senior at Dickinson College and I am a community service student leader. My responsibilities consist of interviewing and selecting a diverse team, planning materials and educational materials in the pre-trip meetings, organizing fundraisers prior to the trip departure, working with administrators to execute a successful trip, facilitating reflection discussions before and during the trip.

Q: What was the purpose of this trip? Why did you decide to participate on this trip?
A: The purpose of this trip is to give students the opportunity to submerse themselves in another culture inside the US and learn about the effects of natural disasters and the recovery process. Participants get to know and build strong relationships with other students that they may not have had the opportunity to meet on campus. By experiencing the people and culture of New Orleans, students are able to reflect on their own life and grow through their own personal experience.
I choose to be a student leader for this trip because I want to give students the same opportunities I had when I participated in service trips in the past. I want to share my passion for service and New Orleans with others and demonstrate to them that getting out of your comfort zone forces you to grow in ways you didn’t think possible.

Q: What do you think you accomplished out of this trip?
A: One of the greatest things that we have accomplished on this trip is the deep, powerful relationships we have created with each other and the members of the community we worked in. Despite our diverse background and beliefs, we are connected now through the love of service and each other. In addition, we completed the work that was set before us with extreme attention and care as if the homes were our own. We learned the value of hard work and know that soon the homeowners will be moving into the homes we just painted and floored. We also learned about the unique culture of New Orleans and the effect of Hurricane Katrina and Isaac on the area, understanding how long and difficult the rebuilding process can be.

Q: What influences you to do service?
A: Having done service for most of my life, there are a number of reasons as to why I take time to do service. I have grown up in a fairly well-off family and although it has been difficult at times, by engaging in service I remember just how lucky I am to have the life that I live and how appreciative I should be for every second I have. Service gives me perspective on other ways of living and other cultures and forces me to question how I live my own life every day. I do service because of the people that I meet. There is nothing more incredible than listening to someone’s story, how they persevere after everything that has happened to them, and the hope they still have to get out of bed every day. In many ways, I have met the most compassionate, friendliest people I have ever known through service. Above all, I believe service is humbling, and it restores my faith in people, one person at a time.

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NOLA 2013




Pictures from the Winter 2012 New Orleans Service trip.

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