Heading to Haiti again!

There are some things that I have figure out over the years about my self, i love lacrosse and being involved in competition, I will do just about anything to learn something new, and most importantly I am never really satisfied.  When a friend was talking to me about ASB I knew I had to get involved and when I read the Haiti program description, I knew that this would not be something that would end  when I walked off the plane. Immediately after I filled out my application I began researching Haiti, looking at pictures reading articles about the earthquake. A few issues seemed to continue to keep resurfacing, the lack of infrastructure on the island, the lack of food and price of education; then I came across some information on the cholera crisis.  I began to read fact after fact about the lack of access to clean water and its effect on the community. I knew I had to do something and with my background in engineering and filtration I knew just what it was. I applied to Lafayette’s Grand Challenges program to build a water filtration system for people in Haiti with a few of my friends. After being accepted into the ASB program, then awarded a grant to build my system I was ready to go.

When we boarded the plane I felt prepared. Between my GCSP research and the preparation through ASB I thought I had a good mental image of what I was getting into but really, I had no idea. All of the photos you see on the internet when you google Haiti are not far off. Even a year out from the earth quake people were still living in tents. There were no traffic lights, houses and structures were still deformed from the earth quake, people everywhere carrying water or piled on trucks going about their daily tasks, even in our compound we had a limited water source that had to be trucked in. Everything that people said about a third world country came to life but no one really warns you about what is the truly amazing part about Haiti- the people. The optimisim and hapiness that these people have is just inspiring. They are pleased with the simplest things. One of my most fond memories of the trip was visiting a boys orphanage one afternoon. Somtimes getting motiviated to  visit the orphanages in the afternoon was difficult after a morning of hard labor in the sun and on this particular day it was especially hard. A few of us grunted and got on the truck, it went normally we taught a lesson on how to say colors in english, then we went outside and played with soccer and kick balls we had brought with us. The boys were so excited and they were having an amazing time until the soccer ball got kicked on the roof-the boys were pretty upset since there was aboslutely no access to the roof unless you scaled the building-which is exactly  of course what I did, i climbed the side of the wall and got the ball. When I threw the ball down just seeing the faces of the children made the terrifying attempts of getting of the roof worth it. Just a soccer ball made them smile from ear to ear. This is the kind of spirit and simplicity you never see in the states- and man was it amazing.

I had a lot of eye opening experiences when I visited Haiti. I have  brought the cause home by collecting cleats for an organization called “Goals Beyond the Net” from our athletic department  and  have been continuously raising awareness about the realities of the water conditions through my GCSP project. As I soon will embark on my second trip to Haiti, I can never express the amount that the ASB program has done for me and its role in inspriring me to just keep helping.


For more informtion on my project please email me or visit this link:  http://sites.lafayette.edu/grandchallenges/this-years-winners/

Tennessee/ North Carolina

It has been a couple of weeks since we returned from our week in Tennessee, but feels like I only left yesterday. I still miss working on the deck, getting lost in the woods and swimming in the freezing lakes. The only thing element of the trip that I found disappointing was losing the fish game. Ed and Arleen Decker were fantastic hosts and Carla was a great cook. I especially appreciated their explanations of how the service projects that we took part in actually aided  the community. Picking up garbage in the forest is a lot less terrible if you know that there are thousands of people coming to the campground the next weekend for the start of fishing season and the park rangers will never be able to get the site cleaned up in time. I though that it was interesting to learn about Cherokee culture. They have a dry community and the two Cherokee that I talked to wanted to keep it that way; however, one of them seemed resigned that a proposed law for a wet county would pass, while the other one was confident that it would be defeated. Shorty believed that a dry county was necessary and that Cherokee were genetically predisposed to having alcohol problems, but he believed the law would pass easily. I’m not exactly sure what this difference in opinion with regards to the fate of the law says about Cherokee politics. Both people (Shorty and the Liberian at the youth center) seemed to be heavily involved in the Cherokee community and they were both very conscious of the historical identity of the Cherokee. From listening to both of them the proposed law seems like it is dividing the community. It is unfortunate that I was not able to talk to anyone in favor of the law, as I would have liked to hear their opinions as well as Shorty’s and the Liberians.

I had an amazing time on this trip and I would like to thank everyone on team Tennessee for a great time and especially Jocelyn for all of the work that she put in, to both prepare us beforehand and to make sure we had a successful trip.

I have been back from our ASB trip to Tennessee for awhile now but it seems like I was just there.  I remember clearly the smell of the pine trees, the impressive waterfall sites, and the looks on everyones faces I saw after we completed a service project.  I do not want to be overly cliche and talk about how this trip completely changed me as a person and how I will never be the same… but there is one thing I need to say: this trip taught me that life is what you make of it.  It did not matter if we were swimming in a beautiful lake or just picking up garbage in a park, we were always having fun and enjoying life for what it’s worth.  We enjoyed each other’s company and took everything in.  This idea is very apparent in the Cherokee community we visited there.  I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet the Cherokees.  Everything they told me about their community was so interesting.  They were so welcoming and you could tell that they really enjoyed telling people about their community.  I am also so happy that I had the honor of meeting Ed and Arleen, our hosts for the week.  They are such amazing people with huge hearts (who also know how to have fun!).  Their program, “Once Upon a Time”, is so nicely organized and just a truly wonderful experience.  They could not have been nicer and they really helped us take a lot away from our experiences.  One night, we had a big reflection with all of the schools there as we made smores in their huge fire pit.  Ed and Arleen guided our conversation and made us laugh with all of their funny ghost stories.  It was so much fun.  I am so happy and grateful I had this experience and I would recommend this trip to anyone!