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  July & August 2014 

Global Service Learning Trips!

          The First Candy that was Good for my Health During the first couple days in Songxi, a small village in China, I was extremely homesick. All I wanted was someone to just speak English to me in my host family’s house. Unfortunately this was not possible, and my next hope was that maybe in the market I could buy some American food that would remind me of home. While browsing through the aisles, I suddenly stopped in front of a bag of candy, with individually wrapped candies inside. Peering inside the candy bag, I found that the candy name was “America”! I laughed, quickly bought it and moved on. The relevance of the candy had not hit me with its entirety until much later in the trip. Not knowing it at the time this candy wrapper and the trip actually changed my personality through the growth of an appreciation of opportunity, becoming a hard worker, and a desire to give back to the community. These feelings have stemmed me to develop an answer to this complex ethical question: Are we, as citizens of a first world country, responsible for helping the people in need within third world countries? I have grown more appreciative after having conversations with my host family on the trip.

          On this occasion, I was walking with my host brother towards town, to the school. We were talking about what life was like in America, and we started out with how expensive cars were, but slowly the conversation shifted towards airplanes. Now my host brother loves airplanes, and out of the blue he brags about how he has seen three airplanes in his life! The shock of what he said has stayed with me to this day. It made me wonder what other privileges I have that I am blind to. Looking back upon the candy that I bought at the market, it suddenly came to me that so many people think of America as a paradise; a society where planes litter the sky, a society where truck drivers do not hold the most lucrative job, a society where 70 percent of their income doesn’t go to food.  Thus it has become a legitimate advertisement strategy to name their candy, “America”, making people think that if they eat this candy; they will get a taste of what America is like, what paradise is like. Since discovering this, I have become more appreciative with what I have. Being appreciative is no longer just a feeling that I would have felt once in a while, but it has grown within me, becoming more of a personality trait. After discovering that people, who are no different besides where we live, are bragging about how many airplanes they have seen in their whole life, it made me think of how rare it is for someone to be as fortunate as myself to have a supporting family that takes me around the world to play chess. I have become a hard worker since, to make the most of my opportunities. While preparing to go to the Oregon Open, I went home every day and reviewed famous games, completed chess puzzles, and did everything in my best ability to mentally prepare myself for the tournament. Upon arriving at Oregon, I pulled out my chess puzzles, and continued to drill myself. My mom, since I was young, has repeatedly said this idiom to me, “Work hard, play hard”. The way that I have interpreted this idiom is that no matter what I am doing, I must do it to my fullest ability. Coming back from this trip I felt, through hard work, a result of the growth after buying the candy, that I had gotten everything from this experience. Therefore, appreciating the opportunities that I have been given has led me to become a much harder worker.

          After the plane ride from China, I have begun to echo my dedication in my service at the global aspect in China, with the same dedication in a more local aspect in Seattle.  On return from the trip, I have put myself into various volunteering opportunities, such as volunteering at the zoo. At the zoo, while teaching children about conservation, I used many of the same techniques that I used to teach English in china, such as involving the students in activities. In China, we preformed skits in English; at the Zoo we felt feathers or touched a real bear skull while talking about conservation. I have grown to love giving back to my community to show myself that I am appreciative of where I am, and that the candy has changed me. While I am either looking at airplanes, playing chess, or volunteering, I often think back upon the candy and how it has made me, appreciative, a harder worker and a lover of giving back to the community. I have determined that it is imperative for people like us, who are citizens of first world countries to help out the people who are less fortunate. As far as we know, it is not because we did anything personally good to achieve the living conditions we have, but because we are lucky. We are lucky that when we look at the sky, it is not rare to see an airplane. We are lucky that we have the opportunity to help others.

              On the day I left China, these were my last words in my journal. “I've been with these kids for a month, and we have become extremely good friends. The only difference between us was the language we spoke, and for some of us the color of our skin. Within our core values, our personalities, and what we love to do; we are the same. But why does one of us have it better than the other? Why do I get to say that I have ridden on many planes, while my host brother brags about just SEEING three planes…Why do I get my own property, a driveway, and a backyard, when my host Aunt says they've only seen such a life on TV? Why do I think of my home as someplace I never want to leave, while Yujay, Abby's host sister, talks about how all they want is to leave, possibly even go to America? Why should they be jealous of who I am, when I am not any better than who they are? And most of all; why do I get to get on that bus that leaves Songxi, while they can't? As my vision of them blurred, first tinted by windows on the bus, then "tinted" by the tears that couldn't hold itself any longer, there were two words that were imprinted in my mind: "Why me?" Reading back upon the journal entry I wrote on the day we left China, I know that I cannot answer the questions that I wrote; but I can make an effort to stop them from even being questions.       


                         by YoYo 

              MAKAH; During the August month for school, a group of students went to do service learning at the Makah reservation on the NW tip of Washington State. Five minutes in your start to realize that the trip wasn’t going to be much about service. The culture in Makah is completely different than the one you see in Seattle. Their culture is all about sharing and giving.

            In the first night, a group of ladies came offer to our cabins and cooked us dinner. Later that evening a whale hunter and two kids shared with us their songs and dances. The songs of each family is usually a sacred thing and you could only sing it if you were in that family, or it would be considered something like identity theft. They considered there songs as their identity and who their family was.;We lived on the beach on the Ho Buck campground. The campground was nice because the beach was only a few feet away. Though the beach was really foggy it was a wonderful sight once the fog lifted. The beach was one of the best part of the trip. We would swim in there for like 2 hours at a time. We had to get really numb first because the water was freezing, I remember the first time jumping in, and it felt like I was going to die. Throughout the trip though the water got warmer and warmer. I guess it could have been just us getting used to the water. The best part of the beach was boogey boarding. This nice lady at the museum offered us to give us her boogey boards to use for swimming. I remember the first time I caught a wave with the boogey board, it was the most exciting thing ever.

          The first time we had free time in the town was very precarious. During the trip I was expecting more small shops around the town. I was surprised to see the town had only a mini mart and a general store. The town had many abandoned houses that were half crumbling down. Even through the wreckage you could tell that the town was a very happy place. The town had very few people that were living in it. They said that most of the tribal members don’t live in Makah. And most people that come here are tourists. The service that we did for Makah was that we cleaned up the beach which took 2 hours to do. We made a game to see which group could collect the most trash. We also talked to the seniors, even though most seniors didn’t want to talk to us and wanted to watch the TV. We also helped the people set up the Fireworks show. The fireworks show was the best I had ever seen. We also helped clean the museum up. The gardened their front lawn and cleaned it up. We picked up over 100 pounds of weeds. It was satisfying when we were all done.

          Most of the time we went on hikes. We usually went and hiked on beaches and ate lunch at the destination and came back. The hikes were about 3 miles long one way but it was totally worth it. I remember going to Shi Shi beach and the rocks were outstanding. We say a ship wreck on the beach that was all rusted up. Shi Shi beach was the coolest beach because it had the coolest rocks in the world. There were small caves that you could go in and explore. The water was so clear you could see the sea life living in between the rocks.

        Makah days was the best part of the trip, but also the saddest because it reminded us that the trip was almost going to be over. We would walk up and down the road looking into the small stands they had. Most stands had beautiful had woven cedar things or Indian tacos. Indian tacos are so good. They are fried bread with some sort of salad with sour cream. Fried bread is the best food in the world. It literally melts in your mouth. We went around eating and buying gifts for our family (and for ourselves). The overall experience was very joyous and happy. 

                              by ToTo