Travel Log 12 “Service” By: Stephen Sharo Dunedin, NZ

The organization I decided to volunteer with was the Dunedin Night Shelter. The shelter provides meals and housing for displaced people in the Dunedin area and has been helping people in need since 2004. As a matter of fact, it has been Dunedin’s only emergency shelter since 2006. The shelter adamantly clarifies that the housing is not a routine “homeless shelter.” The Dunedin Night Shelter takes pride in the fact that is welcomes everyone who needs assistance. Whether some people are having a difficult time at home, going through difficult relationship issues, or simply need a warm place to stay at night. The most remarkable thing about the Dunedin Night Shelter is that it does not receive any money from the government, the entire complex runs off of funds received from the local community. It is the generosity and kindness of the people living in Dunedin that allow the night shelter to help those in need.

My experience at the night shelter was one an experience that was very familiar. During my volunteer experience I was responsible for helping out in the kitchen and serving hot meals to the residents. The time seemed to fly by as I was talking to some of the people there. Previously I have volunteered with organization such as the United Way which provide thanksgiving meals for people who may not be able to afford it. Both of these experiences gave me a different perspective on life. I am extremely lucky at this point to not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from or if I am going to find somewhere warm to sleep for the night. The people who are in these unfortunate situations are just like me. They have families, jobs, and some are even attending school and it’s shocking to know that I could be in the same situation as these people. Every time I volunteer, whether it’s for the Dunedin Night Shelter, the United Way, or another organization, I always remember that I am could be in their place someday and hope someone could provide me with the help I need.

Although my experience at the Dunedin Night Shelter was very similar to past experiences, there were some stark contrasts which I noticed. The biggest eye-opener was the fact that there was only one night shelter in Dunedin. I was shocked to learn that a city the size of Dunedin only had one shelter for displaced people. In comparison, New Haven has a similar population and has at least three homeless shelters. What I think is the most shocking is that there is little to no sign of homelessness around the Dunedin area. The comparison between homeless populations between cities in New Zealand and the United States was astonishing.

I think that volunteering while abroad is an exceptional experience. Throughout the semester we have discussed a lot about integrating into the host culture. We have been interacting with the locals, understanding the culture, and integrating ourselves in the community. I think that volunteer work is the best way to achieve all of these goals. There is no better way to get involved in the community than to give back to those residents who need it the most. There are aspects of the culture which can only be seen by taking the time and interacting with locals who you may have never taken the time to talk to. Slimbach directly criticizes American study abroad students for not having a “true experience” and I believe by taking the time to volunteer provides an opportunity to prove him wrong and help receive a unique cultural experience.

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Travel Log 10: “Encountering Globalization” By Abby Spooner. Dunedin, New Zealand

Globalization as defined by dictionary.com is “worldwide integration and development.” During my time studying in New Zealand this concept has been apparent in the way locals dress, interact, and spend their free time. Many aspects of New Zealand culture closely resemble pieces of our own American culture. However, in a country such as New Zealand a certain level of globalization is expected. They have a similar history to that of the US in that Europeans also colonized them. Additionally, they have access to similar technologies, use similar agricultural techniques, and enjoy similar recreational activities. However, there are other countries where American culture is not expected, but prevalent. For example during a recent trip to Thailand I experience the harsh and upsetting reality of globalization first hand.

12961173_10153937334161208_6809311508900600768_oThe markets in Thailand were astonishingly similar to the market featured in this week’s viewing “The Travels of a T-shit in the Global Economy.” The film featured the market of Zambia where locals buy and sell our second hand cloths. Charity such as this has created an environment where local goods and clothing are not longer needed, killing the entire textile and clothing market of the country. Thailand’s market is similar in that the local market has been destroyed. However, the mechanism of this destruction is quite different; rather than the market conforming to charity, the Thai markets have conformed to tourism. The streets are filled with stands selling knockoff Lewis Vuitton wallets, Gucci purses, Chanel jewelry, American Sports team appeal, Nike shoes, and much more. When preparing to go to Thailand this was not a market I was expecting to find. I expected large markets, but anticipated them being filled with local hand made goods that showed the intricate and innate aspects of Thai culture. However, among these stands it was challenging to find a unique product. I was able to find a few, for example the man in the photo below hand painted hundreds of wooden bowls and plates. His business was honest and produced a genuine fine craft. Unfortunately, this man was an anomaly and his talents are a dying craft suffocated by the globalized market.IMG_7169

The majority of the markets in Thailand were composed of knock off brands mass-produced with plastic only seen in the more developed parts of the world. I remember asking myself similar questions to the ones the narrator of the film presented;

Photo Credit: Jackie Wright

Photo Credit: Jackie Wright

How did these brands get here, where were the products made, would locals buy these knock off brands, and how did these people come to sell this clothing? These questions are not unique to Thaiand and Zambia. In the opening pages of Becoming World Wise, Slimbach references the globalization he finds on the televisions of small rural Vietnam households. Globalization can even been seen on the remote island village in Fiji I visited. Their clothing and Catholic traditions held a distinct western style that seemed odd in such a remote place. However, is there anything that can be done? Can we prevent globalization? Do we want to?

In the film the narrator says, “This is not about the second hand cloths, its about a country struggling” (The Travels of a T-shit in the Global Economy) Later it is mentioned that free markets are part of the problem because it creates a space where some people have no value, they are dispensable. If a man selling second hand cloths dies, there are many readily available to take his place in the market. Has this appeared in Thailand too? There, the streets were filled with hundreds of venders trying to sell the same items. This wasn’t just in one city; we saw the same goods being sold at almost every location we visited. As if globalization had created a uniform market were a unique product no longer held a higher or equivalent value. Thai culture has turned into that of one aimed at pleasing tourist rather than its own people similar to the way Zambia has created a market for second hand cloths over locally produced ones.

One benefit to globalization could be the universal acceptance of human rights. This would mean every man, women, and child of each and every country would have the same basic and agreed-upon rights. However, there is also the threat that globalization may destroy many of the unique and varying cultures around the world. Thus by creating a global community are we destroying our unique global culture? In class we defined a global community as” a shared living space of interdependent individuals endowed with universal human rights, while choosing to act upon them, embracing differences and working toward common goals.” I would argue that this statement needs to be edited in a way that includes the importance of preserving a local culture rather than a single global one. Without the unique cultures of the world the experience of traveling to a new country would be irrelevant because a uniform globe would be created. Thus a global community should simply be a shared living space for a variety of celebrated cultures and beliefs, which are all endowed with the same universal human rights.

Travel Log 12: “Service” By: Erin Foley, Paris, France

Volunteering at any point during your life, especially while abroad, can be a rewarding and fruitful experience. Personally I believe interacting with the local community would be mutually beneficial—I would practice my French while giving back to the neighborhood that welcomed me in January. Volunteering can also be a way of observing different facets of the culture in which you are temporarily immersed. It may also help facilitate the liminal phase in which you retain an anonymous identity in order to discover yourself in a new light.

Given that it is very difficult to find volunteer positions that work perfectly with my schedule, I decided instead to research a non-profit organization that is based in France called, “Médecins Sans Frontières” or “Doctors Without Borders.” Founded in 1971 by a group of doctors and journalists, MSF (as it is commonly referred), employs teams of medical personnel to countries where the standards of living are quite low due to natural disaster or war. Their mission statement is as follows:

We are Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

We help people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from health care.” (Doctorswithoutborders.com)

In France alone, there exist nine satellite offices. Future volunteers flock to these centers to receive the best training before being shipped to a more permanent site. These offices keep in close contact with their affiliates to stay abreast of the political, religious and social climates in that particular country at that particular moment.

Aligned with the Universal Human Rights doctrine, the physicians and journalists who founded MSF felt that health care was an inherent right that all men, women and children bear. It should thereby be respected and carried out with the equality with which patients in first world countries receive: their lives matter just as much as ours do. Dr. and founder Bernard Kouchner explains,

It’s simple really: go where the patients are. It seems obvious, but at the time it was a revolutionary concept because borders got in the way. It’s no coincidence that we called it ‘Médecins Sans Frontières.’ (Doctorswithoutborders.com)

Global community is, according to our class, a shared living space of interdependent individuals endowed with universal human rights while choosing to act upon them, embracing differences and working towards common goals. Although I may not live in the same state or even the same country as those lacking basic medical care, we still partake in the same global community. An article from Business Insider titled, “The Ebola Epidemic Threatens the Global Chocolate Market” dated October 13th, 2014, shows how a mass outbreak of a disease can impact an entire industry. Any farmers working the crops, for example, were susceptible to exposure, thereby weakening the work forces needed to harvest. Not to overshadow the seriousness of a life-threatening illness with what seems to be a frivolous market, but this example articulates the ripple effect felt by other nations if there is political, social or economic upheaval.

Author Richard Slimbach says,

The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.

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I have chosen to include a scene of a mountain where one man is reaching out his hand to assist the other to the top. This symbolizes the work of MSF: the man at the top is the physician with first-world training and experience, while the climber is an underrepresented nation that is in the process of improving, but just needs a little help getting there. Through this philanthropic interaction, we are able to create life-lasting relationships with people, as they will not forget that they were helped in a time of dire need.

Travel Log #9: “Exploring Stereotypes” Kathleen Flynn. Florence, Italy

Going into my study abroad experience, the only knowledge I had of Italian culture was from the Italian American culture within the US. My only glimpse of what their culture could be like was through the Italian restaurants I’ve eaten at, the North End of Boston, and any friends with strong Italian backgrounds in their family. Because of this I had some stereotypes “to fill (the) vacuum of knowledge” I had; specifically about the food they ate, such as spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmesan, and very large portions. As it turns out, these are only aspects of our Italian culture in America, not in Italy itself where meat is never served on top of pasta in the same meal. I also held a stereotype that the Italians were very loud, when in fact the Americans here are probably the loudest and there is even a law here that prohibits noise during late hours. Similar to how Hafez described in Slashing Stereotypes how “hearing stories about Spanish history dispelled (his) misconceptions even more” I have also grown a deeper understanding and appreciation for Italian culture since taking history courses here.

Perhaps one of the most interesting stereotypes that exist here in Italy is about alcohol consumption. Yes, wine is a staple “food” of the Italian diet, however it is consumed as a complementary drink to meals and not for its alcohol content. Those who take advantage of wine for the alcohol are frowned upon. While in America it is not uncommon to see drunken people out after a long night, here it is highly disapproved of because it shows a lack of self-discipline. Even more interesting is that the cheap, boxed wine that college students usually buy is considered to be what the alcoholic’s on the street drink. Study abroad students who are unaware of this stereotype or don’t care what others think also fall into the stereotype and further promote the stereotype that Italians commonly have of the American students here.

In general, I have had many local Italians here tell me there is a stereotype of Americans as over-consumers, and in comparison to their own culture we are. Italians have access to far less energy sources as America does and therefore is much more conservative with how they use it. Additionally, when we go shopping in the US we buy food for weeks at a time because many of our foods have longer shelf lives and there are better deals when buying in bulk. This is not the case in Italy where almost everything is fresh, and many times when I go up to cash register with a full basket of groceries I have gotten very judgmental looks from the locals who buy groceries one day at a time. I think that there is some truth to the stereotype they have given us, which is why it doesn’t always anger me, but I think there is also a “vacuum of knowledge” that Italians do not understand of American culture; for example the fact that many of our groceries are not as fresh or have a longer shelf-life. Conversely, I have dispelled many stereotypes of the Italian culture since being here, but there have been aspects that have definitely been validated. One example is the Italian American stereotype that I witnessed at home where family is everything, and I have witnessed this to a whole new level here. ‘La famiglia’ is so important that my teacher has even expressed his concern for where to go for Easter because if he missed his family’s celebration for his wife’s family they would not talk to him for years and vice versa. I have also met many proud families who have kept their business running through many generations and who have expressed the importance of their family traditions.

This picture obviously expresses the stereotype of American college students and their over-consumption of alcohol, but within this stereotype I’ve found that it has led to many other stereotypes of college students while living in Florence. The resulting actions of intoxicated students abroad can lead to them disrespecting city authorities, locals, and bar owners or employees. The image these people get from those weekend nights is reflected into the way we are stereotyped in other moments of our time abroad. For example, during the day when I walk by in a large group of other students there are constant looks from other passerby’s and usually some comment about ‘americani.’

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Travel Log 11: “Holding Up Half The Sky” By: Stephen Sharo Dunedin, NZ

As I was read the book Half the Sky it was clear that the novel was going to have a lasting impact on me. The overall purpose of the book was to raise awareness about the inhuman treatment of women around the world. The book covered the stories of multiple women spanning across the globe. All these women shared one common link, they were all denied basic human rights. The women were involved in the worst situations imaginable including sex trafficking and child labor. I think that the author’s wanted more than to simply raise awareness. I think that the motivation behind the novel was to spark a movement to preventing these types of heinous crimes. The authors also wanted people to learn about these situations widely known and bring the highlight the mistreatment of women.

One women’s story which particularly impacted me was the story of Dina. Dina was a seventeen year old girl who lives in Congo. One day she was raped by four men, mutilated, left for dead and was found by her parent’s hours later. Unfortunately for Dina her family was unable to afford the necessary medical care in order to treat her dire condition. It was only until HEAL Africa arrived to provide her the desperate support she needed. The most shocking aspect about Dina’s story is she continued to live at home despite the incident, knowing that the risk is practically inescapable.

As I was reading Dina’s story, I couldn’t fathom what I was reading. Here was this innocent teenager who was treated like she was worthless. In my head I was questioning how could somebody do that? How were these people so devoid of emotion to treat this poor girl in such a way? I actually got somewhat angry at the people who did this to Dina. What I think was the worst part was the fact that I knew this wasn’t an isolated incident; these crimes are frequently happening all around the world. The two things that hit home the most were the lack of respect for Dina and the lack of healthcare she received. If an incident like this occurred in America there would be outrage. There would be a huge investigation, the story would be broadcasted on the news, and many people would rally around and support the victim. Yet in Dina’s case no one seemed to care. I think this just demonstrates how people view issues in the United States. I think that most people have a strong reaction when atrocities like this are occurring near their home, but once crimes are committed faraway we seem to turn a blind eye.

As a physical therapy major I am shocked about the lack of healthcare these women are receiving. In many areas of the world these women aren’t receiving the fundamental aspects of healthcare. The world has come so far in terms of healthcare and it’s absurd that not is getting some type of medical attention. Moreover the book talks a lot about childbirth and how there is such a lack of care for the women enduring it. There needs to be a revolutions in regards to the lack of healthcare, especially for women, in developing countries and around the world.  I think it is important to bring these issues to forefront of discussion; people need to know about these situations around the world and discuss how to solve them. People need to be empathetic about the situations of these women and imagine if those same situations were happening in their neighborhood

Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky Reaction Paper”. By Chelsea Campbell. Barcelona, Spain

Half the Sky is a documentary that conveys the message of the oppression of women in our world, with real accounts following the lives and stories of girls and women, and the differences that can be made to correct an issue not many give much attention to. The beginning to making a change is by being aware. The documentary brings a social issue to the eye of the viewer by following stories and entering villages where forced prostitution, rape, and gender-based violence is not only common, but accepted. The goal of the documentary is to create oppression awareness and they do an absolutely amazing job. The stories of the young girls are more than just touching, they are mind-blowing. The stories are ones you simply cannot forget because you cannot believe someone has gone through what these women do. As touching as they all are, there was one that really impacted me. Continue reading

Travel Log 12 “Service” By Zelia Pantani. Antibes, France

 

After a few weeks of looking into volunteering possibilities near my hometown, I discovered that due to various rules and policies, I would have to settle for observing my host community. This week, I was able to observe various EU Red-Cross volunteers serve at the local food pantry in my town. The red cross is a global organization with the mission statement: “to prevent and alleviate all human suffering, and contribute to all efforts related to protection, social welfare, prevention, education and health care”. Like many Red Crosses in the United States, there are various departments and jobs that they preform in order to carry out their mission statement. Some of these include donating blood, food pantries, offering shelter and so forth. However, no matter the department, I learned they all strive for the same goal and that is to help one another; human to human and nothing more. What I mean by human to human basis, is that each person is taken care of with consideration and humility, as if we are all apart of the same immediate family. In Old Town Antibes, a portion of my hometown, in the morning for a half day on Tuesday’s a group of retired French Ladies come together at the food pantry, with more than just food. They also come with clothes, various medicines if applicable and their kindness. There are not many homeless people that live in Antibes, but as always there are some. Part of the incredible thing about this organization and their methods is the ability to become friends with these people who lack basic necessities that we have daily. This means that the women of the organization and the members who need assistance are closer to one another, making it even more meaningful. However, the French women help the community on a need-basis, and not by who they are more friendly with. My favorite part about this experience was the fact that these women speak in only French—which made it interesting for a non-French speaker like myself. Since I didn’t have a full grasp on conversations, I had to read a lot more into body languages and little cues that I don’t think I would typically pick up on. This only served as yet another example in my past months of how pivotal language is in terms of adjusting to the culture and community.

 

 

Volunteering has always been important to me and I’ve always found various outlets where I can give back to my community in one way or another. Whether it is through decorating my hometown soup kitchen, serving sandwiches to homeless in New Haven, fundraising for my sorority’s philanthropy or witnessing the less fortunate in France. I think that servicing the community in any way opens various perspectives to the other people that inhabit the places we call home too. This is the fundamental concept I will take home with me after observing this experience. No matter where I am geographically I am surrounded by masses of unique individuals that comprise the greater community. However, no matter how different these people are in the global community we all have one similar aspect: we are all human. Going back to the human rights discussion, we are all supposed to be guaranteed basic human rights that establish a level playing field for all. Yet through money, possessions, status, power, etc sometimes this can be lost in translation. Giving back to the community allows perspectives to be realigned that we are all human and we all deserve the same treatment towards one another. These French ladies do not have to volunteer their time and services helping people completely unrelated in any way, shape or form to them; but they do.

 

As my time here is quickly coming to a close—as much as I don’t want to admit that—I’ve been able to appreciate a lot more. I’ve started taking pictures of things I encounter everyday, trying as many restaurants as I possibly can and adventuring with people I’m not close friends with. As Richard Slimbach says, “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.”  This quote perfectly corresponds to my mentality as this semester comes to a close. It also corresponds to this picture I took at the local fruit, vegetable, fish and flower market. I for sure ventured outside my comfort zone as I attempted (and failed) to speak in French to the women selling me fried zucchini flower (super yummy by the way). But she appreciated the effort, noticed, asked where I was from and seemed invested in our short conversation. One of the most underrated experiences that I for sure wouldn’t think to talk about when I go home to my friends and family, yet one of those crucial conversations that help us get an idea of our global community; where the people you are around seem invested in your life. This is exactly what I was able to observe at the food pantry as the French women assisted and became invested in their community.

 

 

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Katheryn DeMarey – Florence, Italy.

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Katheryn DeMarey

Traveling is not something my family is familiar with. I’ve grown up with smaller vacations to Maine and New Hampshire but never out of the country. Entering college I found myself looking to explore. This doesn’t necessarily mean I was looking to study abroad; I just wanted to connect with new people and experience life from a different perspective. Somehow I was led to the abroad program here at Quinnipiac and that’s where the adventure began. I chose to study abroad to break that routine of going to school and working every day. I decided to push my limits and take this once in a life time opportunity. After talking to my family and friends, I decided to go to Florence. I chose this location because I felt like it would be easy to travel Europe when staying in Italy and quite honestly; I didn’t have a very big preference when choosing where to stay. Many people pointed me to Italy and that’s where I have landed.

I foresee myself growing and expanding as a person. I will be going through a huge Rite of Passage in my life and it will affect me in many ways. I think I will be more aware of worldly problems, I will be better at communication and I will end up being a more well-rounded human being. As Henry Miller once said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” I know I will find myself disconnected and distraught throughout my travel experiences and then suddenly connected to this whole new environment. This disconnect will provide me with more knowledge and room to grow than I can possibly imagine. After traveling to the Dominican Republic for a service trip, I can clearly see how traveling is more than arriving in a new country. It affects everyone in a different way. This Rite of Passage will heavily influence my transformation and future self.

 

Rachel Marino -Florence, Italy

I chose to study abroad because this opportunity will be a unique experience unlike any other that I will embark upon in my life. I am eager to learn more about the culture I grew up always getting a taste of. When I was a kid, m1380699_10100973237950410_2005313551_n copyy cousin studied in Florence for a semester, when I watched her depart on her adventure, my dreams were born to pursue a study abroad experience myself. I hope to see many different countries but I think Florence is the perfect place to call home. This central location in Europe opens many doors to traveling not only around Italy, but also to many countries throughout Europe. The Rites of Passage theory will be my guide for the personal growth that I anticipate. This theory helps me to know a bit of what to expect from myself and gives me a blueprint to build the framework that will allow me to create a journey specific to my own curiosity. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” This quote embodies how I have dreamed of my experience in Florence. These words will mold my character into someone who takes chances I wouldn’t have taken prior to traveling to Florence. Conversely, the opportunities I choose to fulfill will layer my character and create depth to the person this journey will produce.

 

Casey Keohan – Gold Coast, Australia

Growing up, I used to occasionally accompany my mom to work on my days off from school. While she was teaching, I would stand in the hallway of the education building at Stonehill College, admiring the pictures of the students who had studied abroad the1391693_566515836737601_499395174_n.jpg previous semester. My friends and family always encouraged global education—saying it was an opportunity one must take advantage of in college. I certainly had my doubts once I started school—how will I manage to take a whole semester off from science courses and still complete my coursework in four years? How could I travel to the other side of the world, where I knew no one and nothing about the country? One of my favorite quotes rang in the back of my head as I signed the next semester of my life away to Bond University in Australia: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”― William G.T. Shedd. With this in mind, I am embarking on a four-month journey to Gold Coast, Australia with the hopes that the seas I travel through will provide an unparalleled learning experience.

I chose Australia because I grew up around the water—swimming, sailing and exploring the beach—and cannot imagine studying abroad in any other environment than the one I love most. I am excited to see the unique wildlife and immerse myself in the culture. Australia is not a weekend destination, as the travel time is nearly a day and the destinations are endless. Thus, what better time to explore the land down under than to spend a whole semester?

The traditional Rites of Passage Theory is one that applies well to the study abroad experience. I foresee myself viewing my semester differently with the knowledge that I will spend four months as a liminoid. The openness and curiosity that comes with this awareness will allow me to further appreciate this learning experience, ensuring that I am able to fully and consciously separate and reincorporate. Engaging in a Rite of Passage while learning more about the theory will enhance my understanding and appreciation for the concept, hopefully changing the way I view experiences like this for the rest of my life. As Mark Jenkins once said: “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the away it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” So as I work to make my science-inclined brain see things in a more shades of color, I hope that this study abroad experience will help to open my own views to the world where there is not right or wrong answer to everything, but instead many different and qualified responses.