ASB trips: Lending a hand to those around the world

Alyssa Stencavage, Life Editor

Many students from Wilkes spent their spring break not just away from school, but also from home, helping those most in need. Those who wanted to participate had the option to travel to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Joplin, Mo., or New Orleans, La.


Those who decided to go to Joplin, Mo., volunteered through a program called Rebuild Joplin, which is sponsored by AmeriCorps. Once they arrived, Bugg said they were assigned to other sites that needed help and began working with another charity called Home Sweet Home during the first three days.

On the first day, students raked leaves, picked up branches, organized the inside/outside of the house and then learned how to “mud,” which is part of dry walling. These were all part of cleaning the yard of a house that was being renovated as well as working on the house itself.

They were later split into two groups, half of whom stayed at the house and continued to mud while the other half worked in the Sweet Home warehouse, which was filled with construction and building supplies and donations.

The students organized the warehouse supplies and the donations, and helped turn it into a “restore” so that the donations could be put on display for purchase. These donations included items like cabinets, tables, toilets, lamps, doors, windows, light fixtures, microwaves, televisions and more.

On the second day, all nine students returned to the warehouse to do more work around the house and another volunteer group from Texas joined them.

The fourth day’s activities consisted of working on two different houses, where again the students were split up. One home was destroyed by the tornado and was in the process of being rebuilt. Students spent their time working on the foundation of the house, removing bricks and debris, evening out gravel and cleaning out what used to be the basement.

Because she is involved with a lot of community service, especially organizing service trips and organizing in general, junior pharmacy major Kassi Bugg said working on a team with different people is not difficult at all.

With the help of a friendly environment, where the people were sweet, grateful and welcoming, Bugg said the Wilkes students felt like they made a difference because those in Missouri made it feel like that.

Bugg said it was great to really be appreciated.

Although she said she wasn’t necessarily expecting it to be group-oriented accomplishments, the experience proved to be very satisfying for her and her group members.

“We were able to contribute so much as a group as opposed to individual achievement,” Bugg said. “We had so much fun.”

New Orleans

Sophomore English major Kathryn Roshong was among the 30 students who attended the New Orleans, La. Alternative Spring Break trip, where she said the people were sweet and super welcoming to the volunteers. They were thankful for them being there and made the visitors feel like they were home.
Roshong said although the time zone was an hour behind was a bit of an adjustment, the change wasn’t too bad.

The first three days, Monday through Wednesday, were spent demolishing the trailer of an elderly lady by the name of Lillie Mae. As the larger group was doing that, two smaller groups containing four to six people went to three different locations and helped clean a church and take out ceiling and walls of two different homes down the road from where Mae lives.

Mae prepared a meal of friend tilapia, mac’n’cheese, potato salad, peas and a croissant for the students as a way of expressing her gratitude.

“Another way she thanked us was by singing us a few songs that were beautiful, and you could tell they came from the heart,” Roshong said.

By the time Thursday rolled around, the groups went to Port Sulphur, a place along the banks of the Mississipi and started to demolish two homes, one of which was an actual house and the other a trailer. Due to time constraints, the groups were only able to take off the roof of the homes, clean out the inside of the house, as well as tear down the walls.

On the last day in New Orleans, the students had the opportunity to see the French Quarter, do some shopping at the French Market, take a tour and end the day with a group dinner.

These students were able to do more than just help with the clean up after all the destruction left behind by the hurricane. They were also able to start the healing process for Mae and all other residents affected. Mae will soon have a new home built where her old one once was.

Roshong also worked with three employees of the National Relief Network.

“Not only did they show us how to properly get the job done, but they felt like they apart of the Wilkes community the whole time,” Roshong said.

Going to New Orleans seemed to be a sort of eye-opener for Roshong.

“This ASB experience really showed me that I should stop taking things for granted,” Roshong said. “The people that we helped lost everything, and when I say everything I mean everything. Pictures, mementos, jewelry, everything was ruined. Going to NOLA and seeing how much destruction one simple element can do was devastating; it made me appreciate not only what I have in life, but who I have in life.

“I also was able to see how everyone down there was thankful that people cared. I was at a local seafood restaurant and the waitress was not affected by Hurricane Isaac, but she thanked us so much for coming and that we were not only an inspiration to people but we were life changers.”

She said if there’s one thing she took from the trip, it is not to take anything for granted.

“Everything you have can be lost in a minute and to appreciate what you have been given,” Roshong said.

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, students examined the process of fair coffee trade from harvesting to production, and also helped along in the process. The 14 people who chose Costa Rica as their ASB trip also participated in projects including working with the town’s recycling program and assisting in construction improvements to a local rural school.

For someone whose first time it was both out of the country and on an ASB trip, junior political science and communication studies major Ian Foley said there was an international transition, a language barrier.

“There’s always a culture shock when you go to a different country,” Foley said. “At first it’s challenging, but it got easier as time went on and you got to understand the Costa Rican culture by spending time there.”

Of course the hospitality of the people only eased the situation.

“The people were friendly and happy with what they had, not as materialistic as Americans,” Foley said. “It was cool to see that. The kids were happy to have toys to play with. They weren’t glued to electronics, cell phones, and so on.”
Foley took something a little different from his time in Costa Rica.

“I grew to have a greater appreciation of the process of coffee from production to harvesting, how much hard work it takes and the work that goes into developing fine-quality coffee,” Foley said.

Dominican Republic

For fifth year pharmacy major Willie Eggleston, it was his second time on an ASB trip in the same area of the Dominican Republic. What’s interesting is that this time around the community that the students from Wilkes worked with was one that had never interacted with Outreach360, a program in the community of Laguna Verde.

This was the first experience the students there had with the educational opportunity provided.

It was in a sense a learning experience for both students from Wilkes as well as the children the Dominican Republic, as those from Wilkes ran camps in the morning and afternoon that also taught the kids English vocabulary, Spanish literacy, nutrition, disease prevention, as well as make arts and crafts.

On average, there were 56 kids who came to one of the sessions, which was an experience they got to take part in aside from their normal classes.

“The kids are very excited to learn,” Eggleston said. “They were there because they wanted to be there.”

This year Eggleston said he went back as an adviser, which allowed him to have the same experience as last year while also getting to help and watch other students have that experience.

The atmosphere in the Dominican Republic is also very different from other places, and those who live there practice what they preach.

“The people are all extremely friendly,” Eggleston said. “You walk down the street and people greet you with “hello, how are you doing?”” “The country is thought of as one big family.”

Eggleston said the people in that organization have 10 principles they live by, and there’s one that really made an impression on him: communicate love.

“I don’t speak any Spanish, but I was able to communicate with them enthusiastically, support them and show them I care about them,” Eggleston said. “Simply things like that can alternate the course of someone’s day, so I think that’s something I want to try to bring to my life back here. They definitely show it down there.”

She said if there’s one thing she took from the trip, it is not to take anything for granted.

“Everything you have can be lost in a minute and to appreciate what you have been given,” Roshong said.