Thursday, April 25, 2013

Most Memorable Events

During the trip the activities that are salient in my mind are the events that focused around interacting with the locals. I absolutely loved immersing myself into another culture. In a culture that is so welcoming, it was not hard to get acclimated to the charming people, the warm weather or the general relaxed vibe. One of my favorite social activities was the snorkeling adventure we took on Frank’s Glass-Bottom Boat. This was one of the major highlights for me because as a group we really bonded over the adventure we took together. We each did something that we had never done before. For me it was swimming out in the ocean to see the beautiful coral and fish. For Raqueal it was jumping off the top off the boat while all of her colleagues cheered her on. For Dondra it was just getting off the boat and swimming in the ocean. Because we were all doing something that wasn’t familiar to us we had to put a little (or a lot) of our trust in the group surrounding us. Thus, causing us to go beyond that trust and create a bond that I think is irreplaceable.

Another event that sticks out in my mind is the day that we did community service in the community of Sea Lots, at It’s Up to MEnvironmental. This day will always hold a special place in my heart. We got to interact with everyone from small, school-aged children up to an elderly community member, and everyone in between. On this day we also met with some of the students that we would be working/presenting with at the Symposium. Meeting some of the college students from the University of Trinidad and Tobago was a real eye opener for me because I had the misconception that they would be so different from us, when in all actuality we were all pretty much the same. The only thing that was remotely different was that most of these students were relatively older than traditional college students; Most of them being in their upper 20s.
The last event that really left an impression on me was going into the Success Laventile Secondary School. In preparation for this visit we had been told that the students at this school would be a rather challenging group to deal with. I don’t think that that assumption could have been more wrong. The students that we interacted with were no worse than your typical teenage students and actually seemed to be better behaved than students their age. The best part about visiting these students had to be the steel pan performance that they gave us. Their performance was one of the best musical experiences I have ever had.

All in all, my favorite part of going to Trinidad and Tobago was bonding with my peers, the faculty and staff and the people of Trinidad and Tobago. I made lasting memories with people that I hope to be connected with for a lifetime.

Naomi Sells
-University of Louisville

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Never Would Have Imagained...

     Going to another country has made me realize that the world is so much bigger than I could ever imagine. I had the opportunity to go to Trinidad and Tobago and feel so blessed. I went with UofL as part of the International Service Learning Program. Even though it was during my spring break, I couldn’t ask for a better one. It was a service learning program so we had a planned agenda as well as some free time to enjoy ourselves. Some of the things we participated in were, going to a local NGO that promoted recycling and raising the importance of it; so that was fun to get dirty and put in work for a greater good. Also we went to a school and taught a couple of classes about the importance of recycling. The students were so respectful and sweet. The main reason that we were there was to collaborate with University of West Indies and University of Trinidad and Tobago on the importance of education and share some “best practices” on how to make Trinidad a culture that wants to be active and engaged in civic engagement. The symposium went well and I am happy that I could contribute to something internationally.

     Each day I would wake up eager to start my day. We stayed in a beautiful resort where the staff was so hospitable! It was amazing! We went snorkeling; kayaking and I faced my fear and jumped off a boat in the ocean! This experience has been a humbling one because I get to see how much I have and compare that to others that don’t have as much, yet are still happy and eager to succeed in life. It has made me stop always wishing for more and be appreciative of what I do have.
     The beaches and ocean were so calming and relaxing, it made me not want to leave! Though I missed my home I was not ready to go home. There was so much still to do and see that I couldn’t possibly see in just one week. Some of the girls on the trip and I have already talked about having a reunion trip. I definitely plan on returning in the near future!
Raqueal Pullums
-University of Louisville International Service Learning Program