The time is finally here. The year is coming to an end. Tomorrow I will have my last finals period of the year, and then I will be moving home for the summer. I started packing my apartment up last week to make things easier when it's actually time to load my car. As I was packing, all of the memories from the amazing things that I got to do this year came flooding back to me.
This year, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Belize with a group of people that I barely knew. During the trip I helped make a community a better place. I helped brighten their lives, even if it was only by painting a school. I made friends with other members of the ASB trip. I learned what it feels like to truly be appreciated. I saw how much us donating time meant to those people in Rancho. I got to meet a group of amazing kids who were amazed at our electronic gadgets and were so thankful for us painting their school.
The biggest thing that my trip to Belize did was make me a different person. I was totally out of my comfort zone the entire trip. I tried new things that normally I would not have, and I had fun with most of those things. (The snorkeling still scares me though...) Going on the trip also made me want to help out more. I want to volunteer so much more than I have in the past. Seeing how little the people in Belize have compared to what we have in America is just sad.
I feel like this is part of the reason that UIU offers an Alternative Spring Break program. I feel that they want students to be able to see how other people live, and that the students can make a difference in peoples lives. You don't have to be anyone special to help others out. You just have to be willing to donate your time.
I can't imagine this past year being any different than it turned out. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to travel to Belize for Spring Break this year. I want to thank everyone that participated in this year's trip. Whether they participated by donating money, or by actually going to Belize and helping, they all made a huge difference. I'm going to leave you with two last pictures from our trip to Belize. Thank you again to everyone that was a part of this trip. It truly was un-Belize-able!
Have a good summer everyone!
Hello hello! Today has already been a busy day for the Fayette/Upper Iowa community. Today is the annual Fayette Appreciation Day at Upper Iowa University. Students involved in athletics, Greek life and student clubs and organizations have been busy helping with various projects throughout town today. Projects range from painting buildings to cleaning up trash to building things. Whatever the project is, the students are happy to be giving back to the community. This has always been one of my favorite days each year as a student at UIU. I love being able to spend time with my friends, laughing and having a good time, while also doing something good for someone else. Thank you to all students, past and present, who have helped out with Fayette Appreciation Day. It's awesome that you can help out!
Other than Fayette Appreciation Day, the only things going on on campus are the Greek Week activities. Last night, we had the annual OSD awards where students were recognized for their leadership and involvement in campus activities. More Greek Week activities are to come, and I want to wish everyone good luck!
This week's post is going to be a little short due to the fact that I am currently at a conference in St. Paul, MN. I am at the Northern Plains regional conference for the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA). At this conference, I (along with 3 other Student Activities Board members and our adviser) have been attending educational sessions about how to run successful events, how to promote events and much much more. We also get to see showcases where various types of performers showcase their talent. Once we return home from the conference, we will discuss the performances that we saw with the rest of the SAB members and decide which performers we want to bring to Upper Iowa next year. Aside from watching the performances, we also get to meet the performers and help negotiate contracts with their agents, which is an amazing experience.
Here are a couple of pictures from the conference so far:
Pictured from left to right is: Juan Gomez, Ravi Potes-Mangra, Allison Franck (me), and Caitlyn Finger. Not pictured is our adviser, Jamie Wildhage.
Pictured from left to right is: Juan Gomez, Caitlyn Finger, Mike Winfield, Ravi Potes-Mangra, and Allison Franck (me). Mike is one of the many comedians that we have seen so far at NACA. He could potentially perform at UIU in the fall.
That's it from me for now. I will update more about NACA once we return to Fayette!
As the end of the school year gets closer (only 4 weeks of class left!), the activities on campus also die down quite a bit. Everyone is more concerned with getting their assignments finished and turned in on time. Students also start to wonder how the amount of things in their dorm rooms seemed to multiply significantly throughout the year. I don't know how it's possible, but it always seems that I leave school with close to twice as much stuff as I came with. So for all of those new college students, here's a quick tip for moving out: start taking things home with you each time you go. If you can take a little bit home each time, you won't find yourself rearranging your stuff in your car 50 times before you finally get it all to fit (or maybe you will if you're like me last year...).
Although things are winding down here at UIU, there are still a lot of exciting things going on. About a week and a half ago we had our annual Honors and Awards Banquet where many students were recognized for their accomplishments during their time here. Scholarships and awards were given to those who have excelled in various ways while attending UIU. There are also spring sports going on: baseball, softball and golf are all in full swing (no pun intended), and have home games and meets still to come. Greek Week is also just around the corner, as is the Res. Life Week. Both of these weeks will offer a different event each night for students to participate in or watch.
Another big thing that is coming up is the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) conference in St. Paul, MN on April 15. Four members (myself included) from the Student Activities Board (SAB) will be attending this 3-day-long conference. While at the conference, we will attend educational sessions that teach us various things from how to plan a successful event on campus to how to be a good student leader. We also get to interact with students from other colleges and universities in the area and discuss with them the differences between their programming board and our board. Also at the conference, we will have the opportunity to watch various performances from comedians, magicians, musicians, and more. SAB members attend this conference each year to choose the performers that will play at UIU the following year. Hopefully we can find some good performers again this year!
I think that's pretty much all that's going on right now. Fayette Appreciation Day is coming up soon as well though! If there are any students that wish to participate, stop by OSD to get more information! Later!
Hi all! I just wanted to let you know that I uploaded some more videos from Belize to my YouTube channel! Check them out! The link is below.
Thanks! I should have another post up within the next couple of days!
Hello hello! Here's a little bit about our first few days in Belize...
Our first night in Belize was spent at the Old Belize museum and restaurant. We learned a lot about the ways that Belize has changed over the years, and what Belize has offered to the world. For instance, did you know that chicle used to be exported from Belize a lot? There used to be camps set up throughout the forest where the workers would bleed the chicle trees to get the gummy stuff that is used in gum.
The first full day that we spent in Belize was Sunday. We took a water taxi to San Pedro Island where we were able to shop, spend time on the beach and go snorkeling. It was awesome to be able to walk (or drive in a golf cart) around the island and see everything. While we were waiting to go snorkeling, we got to spend some time on the beach where most of the group played football. Here's a picture of them playing:
Snorkeling was an experience. I'm not the greatest swimmer in the world (and by that, I mean that I'm terrified of water and can't swim to save my life). Although it was scary, I'm so happy that I decided to try snorkeling. I was awesome to be able to see the coral reefs and the colorful fish. After snorkeling, we went back to our hotel for the night.
On Monday, we went to a bridge in Belize City to see the end of a canoe race, which was part of a holiday celebration. We got to interact with some of the locals, and many members of our group sampled the local cuisine as well. After the race was over, we decided to go the Belize Zoo where we got to see many different animals that are native to Belize. We also got to feed a parrot, as you saw in my last blog.
After leaving the zoo, we went to Rancho Dolores, where we spent the next few days working on our service projects. We got to spend some time playing games with the kids on our first night in the village. After the kids went home, we talked about our various projects and started making plans for the next day.
For our first project the next day, we picked up trash around the school yard, and the kids came out to help us. It was nice that they were able to help make their school better. After cleaning up the trash, we started painting the school building. Here's a link to the videos that we took during our time in Belize (my video files are too large to be uploaded directly to the blog):
I will be adding more videos to the site as the week goes on, so make sure to check back! Here's a link to the university's flickr page where more of my photos are uploaded:
Other service projects that we worked on were painting a mural, building partitions in the school, putting up new basketball rims, painting lines for the volleyball and basketball courts, and repairing the sinks in the bathrooms. Each day that we worked seemed to be hotter than the last, but it was all worth it in the end. Although we all came home with numerous bug bites, and most of us had some sort of a sunburn, I'm pretty sure that we all enjoyed our time in Belize.
The people in Rancho Dolores were so grateful for everything that we did (the principal let me record a video of her that will soon be posted on the YouTube channel!). The people were so nice to us during our stay in their village - they let us stay in their homes, and they cooked for us!
After leaving Rancho, we made a quick stop to see the howler monkeys and some reptiles before going to our resort. The last full day that we spent in Belize was spent at Altun Ha, the Mayan Ruins, and cave tubing. Both of these activities were a lot of fun and gave us somewhat of a chance to relax after 3 days of hard work.
Our trip back home was not quite as easy as the trip getting to Belize - our flight from Miami to Chicago was delayed, which caused us to miss our flight to Cedar Rapids, which then caused us to spend the night in the Chicago airport, but we made it home okay. And we have tons of pictures to remember our trip by.
Here's a group photo of us at Altun Ha:
It's been just over a week since I left Belize, and I miss it so much. The first couple of days back in Iowa weren't too bad because it was pretty warm here, but now, it's freezing again! Although I miss the warm weather in Belize, and the adorable kids that we got to meet, I am still happy to be home. Before we left, they kept telling us that going to Belize and seeing how they live down there would change our lives. I never actually thought that it would happen, but it did. Seeing how little the majority of the people in Belize have made me so much more thankful for everything that I have the privilege of having.
I learned so much while I was in Belize. I learned about the history and culture of Belize as well as how the people live. But that's isn't all that I learned. I also learned a lot about myself. Throughout the week that I spent in Belize, I was forced to push myself to do things that I normally would never even think about doing. Whether it was snorkeling, climbing up to the top of a Mayan ruin, or even just talking to people that I didn't know, I constantly tried new things, and I am so happy that I did. This trip reminded me once again just how important my family is to me. We are all really close and spend a lot of time together, so not being able to talk to anyone for a week, when I normally talk to them daily, was very hard. Even though every part of the trip wasn't exactly fun (the whole not having a real shower for 3 days kinda sucked, as did the bugs and lizards!), I couldn't have chosen a better way to spend my spring break.
Over the next week or so, I will be posting blogs that explain the details of each day during our trip (I kept a journal while we were there so I wouldn't forget anything!). This means that I will be posting more than I have in the past, so make sure that you check in more!
Tonight, I will leave you with the first group picture that we took on our trip.
Picture in the photo are: Front Row L-R: Jackie Greco, Cara Mauldin, Paige DeVine, Allison Franck. Back Row L-R: Nicole Lenius, Steve Kluck, Daryl Grove, Justin Marchant, Melissa Kipp, Jason Olsgard, Tiffany Whitcher, Kristen Jorgensen, Kris Whitsell, Kit Klepinger, Allison Rodenberg.
More pictures and videos will be added with each post! Here's a picture of Daryl Grove feeding a parrot at the zoo:
I will try to post more tomorrow, but if I don't get anything up, look for the next post on Wednesday!
So here it is. Less than eight hours before I leave for Belize. I meant to update earlier, but trying to find shorts and tank tops in Iowa at this time of year was a little bit harder than I thought it would be, so everything that I had hoped to accomplish today kept getting pushed back. I finally finished everything a little bit ago, and now here I am.
I should probably be trying to sleep right now since I have to meet my fellow spring breakers at the airport in a few short hours, but for some reason I just can't seem to fall asleep. I've had so many emotions running through my head over the last couple of days. I've had a lot of stuff going on - some of it is really great while some of it is not so great.
I hope that this next week in Belize will be amazing. I will be testing my limits every step of the way. I've never been a very outgoing or adventurous type of person, but this week is going to make me become one. On Sunday, we will be going snorkeling, which is something that has always terrified me. I'm not a very good swimmer, so naturally I'm a little afraid of water, but I'm going to give it a shot. At the end of the week, we will also be going cave tubing, which as far as I can gather, involves sitting in a tube while floating through caves. It ought to be an interesting week, and I am looking forward to it. I can't wait to be in the warm sunshine!
After we return from our trip, I will share some photos and videos that were taken during the trip, as well as give you my personal view of our trip.
As hard as it may be, I am going to try to go to sleep now...Goodnight world! Wish me luck next week!
Oh! I almost forgot. This week's song of the week is "Dancing Lucinda" by the Nadas. The Nadas are a band from Des Moines, IA, and they have played at the Welcome Back Peacock Bash for the last few years. (For those of you who don't know, music has always been a huge part of my life, and I love sharing music suggestions with people, so that's why I decided to add this to my blog! Hope you like it!)
Hi all! In all of the craziness of getting things ready for my trip and dealing with finals, I completely forgot to post yesterday! And unfortunately, I don't have very much time to update you about everything that's been going on right now, so it will have to wait another day. Expect a full update from me tomorrow about the last minute details of our trip to Belize!!!!
Have you ever wondered why everything seems to happen at once? That thought has been running through my head for the last few days. This is the busiest semester that I have ever had in college, and I am struggling to get through it. I think part of what makes this semester different than previous ones is the fact that I maxed out on credits that I can take without paying an overage fee.
Since the first term of our spring semester ends next week, I have a lot of assignments to finish over the next few days. And trying to get things done while also trying to pack for Belize is insane. I've never been out of the country before, so I don't know the first thing about trying to pack for an international trip. Although I'm incredibly busy, and I barely have time to relax anymore, I wouldn't trade my life for anything.
I know that going to Belize is going to be an experience that I remember for the rest of my life. I think it will be something that changes the way that I view things, and I'm sure it will give me a greater appreciation for things that I have every day (such as a clean shower and toilets that flush!). And as far as the crazy class work that I have right now, I know that in the end it will all be worth it.
This week I did get some awesome news: The Collegian (the student newspaper that I am the editor of) is going online! As soon as we get things rolling, I will share our experiences with changing how our campus receives its news!
I also think that I am going to start a Song of the Week portion on my blog entries. I will be choosing songs that were recorded/sung/written by performers who have previously performed on the Upper Iowa campus, performers who will be playing here and performers who I have been able to meet at various conferences since I've been a student at Upper Iowa.
This week's song of the week is "Take Your Time" by Russell Howard. Russell Howard will be performing at Upper Iowa on Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. His show is hosted by the Student Activities Board (which I am a member of). I met Russell Howard with other SAB members last year in April at the regional NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) conference in Minnesota. At NACA conferences, we get to see a wide variety of performances and presentations, as well as attend educational sessions, and then we decide whether or not we want to book the acts to perform at our school. We liked Russell Howard's music, so we booked him to play here, and we are all very excited for it! (Okay, so I think that I might be a little more excited about it than everyone else, but we won't talk about that right now .)