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Our Service Year teams are off to a great start! Here’s an interim report from our Team and Alum Leaders

Our Service Year teams are off to a great start! Here’s an interim report from our Team and Alum Leaders.

Local service report: Here are the cumulative hours reported by each team so far:

Cambodia: 327 hrs.

Guatemala: 852 hrs


Kenya: 632 hr


Peru: 727 hrs


Thailand: 214 hrs (meeting this weekend, so hours will be up!)


Vietnam: 241 hrs (meeting this weekend, so hours will be up!)

Top fundraisers for their trips! Good job! Hannah Bruns, Stephen Buma, Nathan Child, Alyssa Clark, Dylan Drescher, Maicy Gardner, Alexandra Glass , Brooke Burningham, Lauren Jackson, Hailey Liljenquist,  Whitney Madsen, Taylor Porges, Jenna Rule, Madison Taylor, Siri Vlasic.

Here are some comments from team and alum leaders about local service, international service planning, funny and heartwarming moments, and concerns expressed by team members about international travel.

Cambodia team:

·        Lots of funny things happen when we play a game in our team meetings.
·        Most heartwarming experience has been to see how eager the whole team is to help. All of them are excited to go above and beyond to make a difference.
·        We’ve had many go out of their way to make things work, but there are two that stand out: Ashlyn Perrero organized a wonderful service project for us downtown feeding the homeless, and when we found out we couldn’t get downtown because of the storm, we went to our back up plan: organizing file folder games for the kids in Cambodia. Many brought supplies and helped with this but Cami Crump really went the extra mile and made tons of copies and had a big chunk of it organized.
·        All seem excited about all the international projects, but I think the playground is probably a favorite.
·        I think the only concern right now is that they get the right shots.
·        We love this team. They are truly an amazing group!

Guatemala:

  • The funniest thing that has happened thus far would be at the retreat when Ruth handed out glow sticks to all of us, and as we were playing with them and making them into bracelets, one of them broke and sprayed all over Brynna’s hair and onto the wall behind her. It was a surprise and everyone laughed and joked around.

  • It has been great to see how already the members of this team have become good friends! Everyone seems to get along really well and make an effort to get to know everybody. This group will work extremely well together in Guatemala. 

  • One person to spotlight who has gone out of his way to help out and make our team even better would be Jake Cushing from Skyline High School. He has made the effort to become friends with all of the other team members! He is always willing to help and will often volunteer to help, and he is in the top three for having completed the most service hours thus far. 

  • The project that the team knows the most about would be the ecological friendly benches. That will be neat to build but the team is up for anything!

  • During General Orientation in November a spider descended from the projector on the ceiling and just about landed on Clayton’s head. Just about everyone in the room cried out with surprise or disgust and I warned everyone that we would be encountering spiders and insects much larger than that in Guatemala!
·       The most concerning aspects of international travel for team members would be the bugs (particularly spiders!) and the kind of food we will be eating. I’m sure that in March we’ll hear a lot concerning shots and pills and such, but so far my team doesn’t appear to be overly concerned.
  • The Guatemala 2013 Team is awesome! We are all such good friends already and everything is going well! The students are brainstorming some great ideas and we’ve completed some great service projects! The team is dedicated and put their hearts into what we are doing in preparation for Guatemala!

Kenya

  • Angie Nickerson shared a fun story about one of her service experiences. She was helping at an event and was dressed up in a big mascot costume, so all of the kids wanted to hug her and say hi. The head of the mascot was big though and she couldn’t see our very easily so she said she kept knocking kids over when she would bend down to hug them. She said it was kind of a mess but lots of fun and all the kids still loved her! 

  • The getting to know you game at the retreat was pretty funny. We played the game where you had to take 1-6 squares of toilet paper then tell that many things about yourself. There we’re lots of funny things we found out about each other and everyone enjoyed Laci’s explanation of her name. 

  • It was really cool was when Heather Shipp shared an experience from her main service site from last week. She was supposed to prepare a 3-5 minute presentation about Backyard Broadcast to give at UVU before the main speakers took the rest of the given hour. There were miscommunications and Heather and another girl who had prepared 5 minutes we given the whole time to present. She said she was nervous at first and worried they wouldn’t be able to take the whole time, and that it would be weird having two high schoolers present to college students. She said it turned out going really well, lots of kids had questions, and they were able to explain a lot and take up the needed time. It is awesome to see when people are put in situations unexpected, where they are unsure how it will be, but then to just go for it and succeed. Plus Heather is a bit of a quieter person anyway, which makes it even cooler that she is doing all this stuff! 

  • Alane Gaspari went out of her way to volunteer her home for our team retreat! We almost had the whole team there. Throughout the whole night she was paying attention to everything making sure everyone had what they needed, and trying to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. 

  • Everyone seems excited about everything we are planning to do in Kenya. After the slideshow Scott showed at the retreat everyone seems especially excited to work in the schools and do stuff with the kids.

  • During the Cultural Committee’s meeting during the retreat,  they planned out their projects and things they wanted to be doing. It was really impressive how they were trying to consider all they people in Kenya that we would be working with. They wanted to plan cool and fun projects for the schools and people, but didn’t want any group of the people there to feel left out. So they spent a lot of time coming up with meaningful projects and ways to do something for all the different groups we will be with. 

  • People are slightly nervous about traveling healthy in Kenya, and also about the cold showers. Nobody really knows what to anticipate or how it will really be so everyone’s keeping an open mind! 

Peru

  • At our first meeting we wrote letters to children who have life threatening illnesses through an organization called Hugs & Hope. It brought tears to eyes as we saw what these children were going through. It sure made us glad for our health and blessings. We were happy to share a little bit of happiness with them.   One of the children wrote back to Alyssa Sheehan.  She was so excited to see that one of the kids took the time to write back to her.  
·        Several members of team Peru volunteer at Real Life in Salt Lake. We saw Lisa Schneider and Lynette Duenas on Friday evening Ice Skating with the participants outside in the freezing cold weather.
·       We have been really fortunate to be hosting the daughter of our in-country coordinator, Carlos Acosta! Karla is having a great time, but since Iquitos, Peru is always warm, Karla says are winters are too frio.
  • The Price-Huish family let us use of their cabin for our retreat. Cecilee (the mom) transported us all up to the cabin in freezing cold temperatures. She went above and beyond to make sure our stay was a memorable one. Rin Price-Huish has also helped so much the past couple of months with the retreat, her committee, and her service hours.  

  • Everyone seems to be really excited about the Mondo Art Project and building bridges in the rainforest.  

  • Some folks are worried about shots and not having communication while we are in-country but we always reassure them and let their parents know that they will be okay.
·        Of course all of our team members are most excited about their own committee. However we are happy to complete the Medical Clinic in Yanamono 2.  We are also excited to continue with the livestock exchange program.
·        Someone asked us how we were going to get the chickens to Peru.
·        Brooke Burningham and Michelle Moynihan who made their Development intern goal this year. Brooke was able to add 2,000 to Peru project funds and Michelle kindly donated her earned project funds to help boost Guatemala funds.
·        Alex Holt has contacted a few eye clinics about donating old or unwanted glasses. He has also contacted the CEOs of Ogden Regional Center and McDee Hospital about medical donations. He has also stepped up to take on mentor responsibilities and encourage his teammates.

Thailand:

  • Maybe the funniest thing that has happened thus far was just the team building activity we had at our second meeting. Everyone had a great time participating in the activity. Matilda planned the activity, and brought a beach ball covered in different, creative, and interesting questions. We tossed the ball around and whoever caught it had to answer the question that was beneath their right thumb. We had a lot of fun with it, and everyone participated, even some parents who only dropped by to ask a question!

  • Everyone in the group realizes how cool it is to be working with the Moken people – sea gypsies whose entire lifestyle was wiped out by the 2004 Tsunami. Similar to the Native American population in the U.S., Mokens have been relegated to ‘reservation’ like communities, where they experience extreme poverty: lack of clean water, sanitation, health care.

  • The cultural committee is particularly excited. Although it took them some time to figure out that the Moken people are totally different from the Thai, I think they are extremely excited to learn about a completely different culture. 

  • Our educational committee is super excited to teach the Moken children on the island, and love the challenge of developing lessons for children who have such little formal education.

  • Our team, like most others, is most concerned with bugs, food, and staying healthy, but we have a pretty laid back group of participants this year. 

  • It was great to have Miriam Kramer, the Youthlinc International Service Director, talk to our team about her recent site visit to Ranong and hear her information about all the projects we will be involved with in Thailand. She showed some photos, which were hard to look at, because Moken elders are in poor health. It was good though because it showed the medical committee what we will be working and dealing with once we are in Thailand this summer. 
Vietnam:

  • Students have interesting local service sites and are all enthusiastic about service and willing to discuss their local service stories at meetings.

  • In our getting to know you activities, we found out all kinds of unique and bizarre things about our team members. For example: one student did the highest bungee jump in the world, we have a national champion snowshoer, and many participants have had crazy broken bones!

  • When everyone found out their committee assignment, the room was buzzing with the excitement. To build relationships and teach a lesson about working together, each committee was given a challenge: stack cups in three different configurations without touching them or speaking.  It seemed impossible.  The committees were given one tool to work with – a rubber band with a string for each committee member to hold.  They could only touch one string at a time, use only one hand and speak no words.  It took every committee member to figure out how to maneuver this tool in order to accomplish the task.  What were the take aways: we have to be creative problem solvers… we need to communicate in different ways… we will be working outside of our comfort zone but we need to stick with it… it will take each and every one of us giving our all to accomplish what we are setting out to do… the power of a small group centered on the same goal is infinite!

  • Alyssa Clark is a real go getter.  Right after our December meeting she started assembling the school kits and the feminine hygiene kits.  She’s already arranged with several different groups she works with to undertake these projects.  Her enthusiasm and energy are inspiring and contagious! She was also one of the first ones to go above and beyond and turn in her service site early and have many hours!

  • Our vocational committee has already set up their first training and are learning to make soap in order to share that skill with the people of Song Cau.  

  • The cultural committee is already talking about the games and activities to do at the in-country carnival.

  • Bugs, food, shots, language and bathrooms always seem to be at the top of the ‘concern’ list.  By the end of trips we are sure everyone will want to install a squatter in their house in place of the boring, old, sit-down style toilet.  The Vietnam Service Team is full of energy and excitement for the journey they are undertaking.  They are eager to prepare in order to make it a successful trip.  Team meetings are flying by and before we know it we’ll be on a plane to another piece of the world, trying to make a difference in the lives of others while they in fact will make the difference for us.  

Youthlinc

Youthlinc is a Utah-based 501c-3 nonprofit dedicated to creating lifetime humanitarians through local and international service. Learn more about our programs by visiting our website: www.youthlinc.org.

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