Friday, January 29, 2010

GoodSearch & GoodShop

Interested in helping out your favorite charity?

Check out, then. It's a great way to do nothing except USE THE INTERNET and donate to your favorite charity! All you have to do is use GoodSearch as your primary search engine, and every time you search for ANYTHING $00.01 goes to the charity of your choice. Imagine if you search 15 things a day (and this is a huge underestimate of what most individuals search on Google or Yahoo! every day) for an entire year. That's $00.15 a day. Multiply that by 365 days, and you just donated $54.75 to your charity without even having to leave the comfort of your office, library, school, or home.

Better yet, if you use GoodSearch to do your online shopping, a percentage of each purchase ALSO goes to your charity. Looking to book a flight? Search for flights through GoodSearch. Want to buy that cute shirt you've been eyeing for weeks? Check out your favorite clothing store by going through GoodSearch. Want to buy your mom a birthday present, or your grandfather a Father's Day gift? Look for any item through GoodSearch, and depending on how much you spend on those purchase, a percentage ends up going to your charity.

It's a great way to support, and just as good a search engine as Google or Yahoo.

Also, don't know a charity you'd like to donate to? Set your charity to La Salle University, and you'll help our Service Trips reach our fundraising goals! We have 5 trips: Estudientes Unidos that travels to Guatemala in May, Project Mapendo that travels to Tanzania in May and June, Blackfeet Montana that travels to the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Montana in January and May, Habitat for Humanity that travels to different locations throughout the country in May, or Project Appalachia that travels to Harlan, Kentucky in March.

So what are you waiting for?
Search today and donate!

Search the Web Money-saving coupons
Raise money for La Salle University (Philadelphia just by searching the web and shopping online!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Climb Your Mountain

If there is something I've learned from my experiences with programs like Outward Bound and the service projects and trips that I do, it's to climb your mountain.

It doesn't matter what your mountain is--just start putting one foot in front of the other and get yourself to the top. Don't stop. Once you stop, it's hard to start again. Motivation is often a fleeting concept, and if you allow yourself to stop walking forward, you might just decide it's much easier to turn around and head back to where you started--to walk away from the mountain and leave it for someone else to climb and conquer.

Maybe your mountain is a paper for a class that requires copious amounts of research and annotation. Perhaps your mountain is talking to a person with whom you've had a falling out. Maybe you haven't spoken with them in days, weeks or even months, but there is no time like the present to try and repair what is broken, especially when it comes to relationships. Maybe your mountain is a change in careers. Yes, it's tough. And yes, it's scary. It's unknown territory, and there is that thought of failure that lurks in the back of your mind, but ignore that thought. Go for the career change, and throw yourself into your new work, learning everything you can so that you guarantee yourself success.

Maybe your mountain is big, or maybe it's small. No matter the size, it's important to keep your eyes on the goal. Push yourself, because even though it may hurt, even though you might face some obstacles and challenges along the way, and even though there may be no one there to pick you back up if you stumble, once you reach your goal, the mountain seems a lot smaller and much less daunting than when you started. Looking at the world from the top is exhilarating, inspiring, breathtaking, and awesome, and you can know that YOU DID IT.

You made it to the top, and the climb back down is going to be easy going and swift, and so much sweeter. You can do it. You can climb your mountain.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Classes Have Begun...

I'm taking 5 courses this semester at La Salle. For a while taking 6 courses was a consideration, but I figured with everything else I'm doing it would be too much to handle. The 5 that I decided on all seem interesting so far, although I've only been to 4 of them. I go to the last of the 5 on Monday nights, and since we started classes on Tuesday this week, I have to wait until next week.

I'm taking "Religion Is..."on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 to 10:50AM. It is a world religions course focused on an analytical approach to religions instead of a catechetical approach. We'll be covering the standard religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. We'll also be looking at what, exactly religion is, and we'll be looking at other religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Indigenous religions. I've heard some horror stories about the class, since many people have taken it because it's a required Honors Program course, but my first impression was pretty good. I know the professor is a strict grader, but I feel like I'll do well in the class.

I'm taking "Ethical Issues in the Life Sciences" on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12 to 12:50PM. This course, I feel, is going to be tied for my favorite course, as far as first impressions go. The professor seems engaging and the material of the course is going to cover things like genetical ethical issues, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, and other such issues that effect the life sciences. It's a small class, only 9 people, which is great, too. I love smaller classes because you get more of an intimate and involved setting, as opposed to my next course which is...

A Sociology course called "Urban Development" on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 10:45AM. I'm really excited about taking this course. I had the professor for two of my classes last semester ("Principles of Sociology" and "Race Relations"). I absolutely love this professor and I love the material that he covers. I'm really looking forward to this class. It fulfills a requirement for my Sociology major, as well. I also have this professor for another one of my classes this semester, as well, although he is sitting in as a "co-professor."

That course that he is co-teaching is called "Argentina: Education and Economic Justice - Opportunities for Empowerment" on Wednesday nights from 5 to 7:45PM. It meets only once a week, and is a course I'm taking for my Leadership and Global Understanding minor. I think this might be my favorite course for the semester. It's a great group of students, the professor (and co-professor) is awesome, and the course material is going to be really interesting. We then travel to Argentina over Spring Break for 10 days, which I am really excited about.

My final course which is on Monday nights from 6:15 to 9:05PM is "Global Art: Art of India, China and Japan." I haven't been able to go to it yet, so I haven't met the professor or been able to gather a first impression, but the material looks interesting, and so I'm excited about it, as well.

As of right now I'm a Sociology and Art History double major with a minor in Leadership and Global Understanding, but I may drop the Art History completely in order to take electives junior and senior year instead of cramming my schedule full with my degrees. If I continue with my degrees at this point, I'll have no space whatsoever for any other courses, and there are courses in Economics, Political Science and Spanish that I'd love to take. So I'm still debating on what I'm going to do in terms of keeping or nixing my Art History secondary major.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Nature Doesn't Discriminate

It's hard to keep up with world news while traveling. Internet connection is unpredictable, and TVs are few and far between at times. Cell phones lack service, unless you purchase a phone card specific to the country you find yourself in. Newspapers can even be hard to come by. However, just because you're removed from the media, does not mean that the media ceases to exist.

This is something I've learned throughout my time traveling both in and out of the United States.

On Monday in Honduras, after we had returned from the worksite, my three other roommates and myself decided on a shower order. I agreed to go last, because I had baby-wiped the dirt off my arms and legs and crawled into my bed for a short nap.

I slept lightly and half-listened to the conversations that the others girls were having in between showers. At one point as I drifted more into sleep than conciousness I suddenly felt my bed shaking lightly. I thought that one of the other girls and bumped into the end of my bed accidentally, because the room was small and had four beds packed tightly into it with minimal space for navigating. I ignored the shaking and continued to sleep until it was my turn for a shower.

The next day at breakfast I overheard someone mention an earthquake that had hit the previous night, and whether anyone had felt it. I chimed in that I had, although I hadn't realized it was an earthquake at the time.

The quake hit in Southern Honduras, somewhere between the boarder of Honduras and Guatemala, outside the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa around 5:40pm. The earthquake was felt specifically in the western areas and the northern Caribbean cities of Tela, La Cieba, El Progreso, and San Pedro Sula. It was recorded at 4.9 on the Richter Scale, although the effects felt in El Progreso, where we were located, were much smaller.

Around 5:40pm was the time I felt my bed shaking.

Thankfully, there was no death toll or significant property damage (although "significant" is a word I'm hesitant to use, because that word probably applies to people with higher incomes who live in more stable housing than the many in the country who live in extreme poverty and live in scrap metal, tin and mud brick houses).

The lack of damage is good news for Honduras. They already endured a large scale earthquake, recorded at 7.3 on the Richter Scale, back on May 28th, 2009. The earthquake destroyed three bridges, one of which was the main connection between El Progreso and San Pedro Sula over the Ulua River, called the Democracy Bridge. Since then, another bridge has been built directly beside the collapsed Democracy Bridge. The collapsed bridges were in addition to large scale damage and collapse of schools and homes, as well as killing at least 3 people, with other death tolls ranging from 6 to 12 people.

Unfortunately, only a day after the minor effects we felt in El Progreso from the Guatemalan-Honduran boarder earthquake, Haiti experienced an earthquake 7.0 on the Richter Scale.

The earthquake in Haiti is something I didn't hear about until Friday, and that is what I mean by "It's hard to keep up with world news while traveling." Returning home and hearing about the destruction that occured in Haiti really struck a chord in me because of the stories I heard about the destruction that occured in Honduras only months earlier.

One article that I've read gave more information than most about the earthquake. It's heartbreaking hearing about how many people have died, the lack and inability of immediate emergency response, and the destruction of the entire country.

Nature doesn't discriminate. It levels the playing field and targets people from all backgrounds and walks of life. The archbishop died in the earthquake. Dozens of UN officials are dead, and hundreds are unaccounted for. Thousands of the poor, middle class, and wealthy are dead or missing. The death toll estimates come as high as 200,000 with the count right now somewhere around 70,000.

It's mind boggling.

If you're interested in helping, there are numerous ways to do so.
You can find some information here on how to donate and help the people of Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cheke Leke. It's ok!

I'm more than halfway through my week in El Progreso, Honduras. It's hard to believe that the time has gone by this quickly. It feels like yesterday I was flying into the airport in San Pedro Sula.

The time here has been incredible, to say the least. There really aren't words for everything I've experienced thus far. Yesterday we mixed concrete for several hours and began to lay the foundation for the library at Villa Soleada. We finished the entire perimeter, which was more work than any other group has ever done according to Ramon (the village head patron) and Russ (one of the SHH staff members). I was so proud of all the work we did and how much we accomplished. It was incredible watching everyone come together. We had a lot of the men from Villa Soleada helping us, but some of the women and many of the children helped as well. Everyone was shoveling and mixing and carrying buckets of concrete. This one woman (who is probably twice my age and half my height) carried full buckets of concrete while I could only carry half full buckets. I couldn't believe how strong she was. She kept cracking jokes in Spanish, too, as if we all understood. I just smiled and laughed whenever she did, but it definitely made the work easier and more fun. I was surprised at how hard all the kids worked, too. It was definitely a rewarding day.

I've learned a lot more while being here, too.

I've learned you cannot throw your toilet paper in the toilet, because the sewage system here can't handle it. This is something we learned the first day here, but it's been hard to remember, resulting in a not-so-fun attempt to get toilet paper out of the toilet and into the trash can. I've also learned that there are lots of of other critters besides frogs in bathrooms. Tarantulas are prevalent at Villa Soleada, along with skinny dogs, chickens, and geckos. The only ones I have a problem with are the tarantulas. Those aren't fun to find, especially when you're digging a trench. I'm beginning to pick up words of Spanish here and there, as well, so little by little I can understand more of what the kids and other people are saying... although it's mostly only words and then guessing the rest of what someone is saying. But I'm ok with it. Communicating is fairly easy with hand motions and my phrasebook. The kids don't care that I can't speak Spanish either.

We're heading out to a market today, and then to an orphanage. It's going to be different from Por Venir, the school we've been working at, but it'll be interesting to see how different.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Things I'm Learning About Honduras.

Although I’ve only been here for about 36 hours, I’ve already learned a lot about Honduras. Well, at least about El Progreso, although the staff members from SHH tell me that things are similar throughout the country. Anyway, here is what I’ve learned throughout the day.

1.) If you wear contacts and/or glasses, put them on first thing when you wake up.

The reasoning behind this lesson follows in #2.

2.) Don’t be surprised to find wildlife in your bathroom.

After waking up at 5:50 this morning and stumbling into the bathroom to turn on the shower, and after turning on the shower, I was (un)pleasantly surprised to find a small frog leap out from the hot water knob. Without my contacts in (hence, #1) I thought it was a large spider. Needless to say, I was freaked out. I showered with the frog hanging out on the curtain, because I didn’t know what to do with him… so I let him be. Thankfully, we kept the bathroom door closed throughout the day while we were at Por Venir and Villa Soleada, and I was able to capture the frog with my hat after we got back to Hotel La Cascada. He’s now outdoors, where he’s probably much better off.

3.) Make sure your camera batteries are charged.

I speak on behalf of one of my roommates and myself when I say this. If you’re looking to take photos, charge your batteries the night before. Thankfully I have both my SLR Nikon D60 and my Point and Shoot Canon PowerShot SD600. I was able to use my Nikon throughout the day, even though my battery for my Canon was dead. Obviously, I’m charging both batteries tonight so that I’ll be prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.

4.) Just because you’re offered more food, does not mean you should eat it.

Yes, the people here take pride in being able to offer a guest food. However, most people don’t even have enough to be offering one serving, let alone more than one. So when a person offers food, eating one serving is showing gratitude, while having more than one is not exactly impolite, but it’s not exactly polite either.

5.) Not being able to speak a language does not mean communication is futile.

Communication is often done with language, but it’s certainly not the only way we can understand each other. Pictures, actions, and simply being in another’s presence can be enough communication, especially with children. However, having a translation dictionary and/or a phrasebook never hurts.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Maciso, de Miedo! Cool!

I arrived in Honduras this afternoon around 12:45pm. It was 1:45pm back home in Jersey once we got here. Our flight took off a little later than scheduled, but it still made good time to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Many of the passengers were Latino/a, and I heard Spanish all around me. As we landed the entire plane erupted in applause. I’ve never been on a plane that applauded at landing, but it was fun. It made me smile and finally get excited about being in Honduras. It was instantly muggy and warm once we stepped off the plane, but it was a welcome change in weather from the freezing temperatures back home in Jersey.

I can’t really explain well enough with words how I felt once I left the airport with the group from SHH (Students Helping Honduras). We boarded a big yellow school bus (they’re called Chicken Boxes down here…) and watching the landscape out the window pass by as we drove from San Pedro Sula to El Progreso was such a trip of nostalgia for me. I literally felt like I was back in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. There are advertisements on the sides of buildings for the Tigo phone company; there are advertisements everywhere for Pepsi, Wendy’s, and other large corporations. The traffic is not nearly as bad as Kiwawa Road or the other roads we traveled while in Dar, but there are more motorbikes here, and fewer cars.

There is one other guy from La Salle University here with me, although I did not know him previous to this trip besides a few e-mails back and forth. I met a few of the other people on the trip after we got off the train, and then had a good time talking to and getting to know a few others throughout the afternoon and night at lunch, dinner, a walk around Hotel La Cascada where we are staying, and hanging out with the other three girls I’m rooming with at the hotel. Two of the girls are from Towson University, and the other girl is from University of Maryland. I’m excited to get to know them throughout the week.

Otherwise we did an icebreaker, and were given a run down of the policies and “rules” for the week, involving “Do NOT flush toilet paper. Throw it in the waste bin. Honduran sewage systems cannot handle anything besides human waste,” and, “Wear sunscreen and bug spray at all times” (for obvious reasons). I’m taking Malarone for Malaria, but Dengue is still a huge risk with the mosquitos, and it’s been raining here for the past two days (including today) and will continue to do so, apparently, for the next two days. In other words, the mosquitoes are going to have a party by the end of the week.

At this point, I’m tired, but incredibly excited to get to Por Venir (pronounced “pour vi-neer”; the children’s camp we’re working at) tomorrow, and also to Villa Soleada (pronounced “vee-ya so-lee-a-da”; the village that was built throughout this last year). It’s only 9:30, but I’m exhausted from traveling and am heading to bed.

Updates to follow!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Imagine Yourself... A Leader.

"The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'"
-Lao Tzu

"The Constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree."
-Edward Kennedy

"You may read from time to time the voice of small radical groups. But this voice will not change the fact that mainstream Indonesia will continue to be moderate, tolerant and democratic."
- Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

"We cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused, but we have the power to determine the future and to ensure that what happened never happens again."
- Paul Kagame

"All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do - that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be."
- Michelle Obama

"“Preventive vaccines have ended or helped control the most deadly infectious diseases known to man. Finding a vaccine to stop the spread of the HIV virus must be a global priority."
- Seth Berkley

All of these people are leaders. They have done incredible things for the world--things like helping to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, restoring peace to Rwanda, and being a voice for those less fortunate or able.

Great leadership takes great courage, hope, strength, responsibility, and integrity. There are hundreds and thousands of people who do great things for this world. Leaders come from all walks of life and all circumstances. They do things like run governments, lead huge movements, develop astounding technology, and own enormous businesses. But leaders also do things like tutor children who struggle in math after school hours, volunteer at local soup kitchens and nursing homes, write to their representatives about their concerns, and make thanksgiving and christmas dinners for handicapped friends.

Leaders are great and may be rich or famous or unbelievably intelligent, but they are also wealthy without money, famous without world renown, and intelligent without the best that education can offer.

Mother Teresa said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Maybe individually we can't make a huge difference in the issues we are passionate about. Maybe individually we can't stop the wars that carry on throughout the world--or the wars that our own country are waging. Maybe individually we can't feed the millions of people who starve every day or quench the thirst of the millions of people who have no clean water to drink. But if, individually, we can't do this great things that seem vast and complex beyond our comparisons, then we can at least spread the word to others about the issues we are passionate about, promote peace to others about the wars of the world and of our country, and feed or quench the thirst of at least one person who is hungry and thirsty.

There are so many ways that people can become great leaders, and it always starts small.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia to a Reverend and his wife. He worked hard to educate himself and relied on his friends and family to help him achieve success. He relied on supporters during his activism. He took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves to him instead of letting them pass by.

Dorothy Day was born in Brooklyn, NY to her mother and father, who were middle class, average Americans in the late 1890s. She strongly supported women's rights, pacifism, and equality for all. She made a difference in the lives of thousands despite the fact that she began relying completely upon herself with no monetary help from her parents and struggled to raise a child (Tamar) throughout it all.

The "Unknown Rebel" who, at Tiananmen Square in June of 1989 during Tiananmen Protests in China, stood before a line of 17 tanks to block their path is an iconic figure who represents courage and heroism to millions. Little to nothing is known about this man, or whether he is still alive, but he is surely an unknown leader who symbolizes the Everyman and gave hope to watchers.

These people could just have easily led lives where they chose not to do the courageous things that they did. They could have made decisions to lead quiet lives, hidden from the eyes of the public. But instead they stood up for what they believed in. They spoke up and found people to rely on and support them. It's certainly not easy to do the things that MLK, Jr., Dorothy Day, or the "Unknown Rebel" did. It's not easy to do things that Jesus of Nazareth, The Dalai Lama, Christine Lagarde, Nelson Mandela, or Gordon Brown did and still do.

However, taking small steps and again, as Mother Teresa said, "We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love," and that is how great leaders are made. They begin by doing small things with great love.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Happiness Project

There's a blog called The Happiness Project written by woman called Gretchen Rubin.

I've been following her for two months or so, now. I love her posts. She has a tip day every Wednesday, which always has awesome tips. Her book also just hit the shelves recently, and I'm going to be looking into purchasing it.

Anyway, the reason I bring up her blog, is she's been talking about New Years Resolutions a lot lately. Her concept of making resolutions is really interesting, and I've decided to try it out.

I want 2010 to be a smoother, more organized, and happier year. 2009 was good, don't get me wrong, but 2010 will be great.

My breakdown of goals is as follows:

January - Maintaining Healthy Relationships
February - Organization & Time Management
March - Mindfulness
April - Exercise & Nutrition
May - Spirituality
June - Family
July - Relaxation & Fun
August - Work
September - Energy
October - Attitude
November - Friends
December - Final Touches & Overview of Year

I've already started with January and Maintaining Healthy Relationships.
My overview of this goal is to be honest and open with people to the best of my ability. I want to confront situations and find solutions to any problems so that I can avoid problems arising in my relationships with people, whether they are family or friends. I want to be able to talk to people and be genuine with them, and listen to them when they talk to me. I want to form better relationships with people that I meet, as well.

I'll update each month with the overview of each new goal for every month.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...