Break a Difference

Yesterday was bitter sweet because it was our last day volunteering in NYC and NJ. I got the chance to work with the children at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark New Jersey. For me, arriving to Newark was returning home. I grew up around the area so I was excited to help out in the community any way I could.

Our first day volunteering at the BGCN, the children came in and they were extremely sweet and respectful to all of us. All of the kids were excited to see us because they knew that by us being there, we cared about them. I was assigned to work with the teens, and I had the opportunity to help them with their school work. This was my first experience working with kids, so I didn’t know what to expect. As it turns out, I enjoyed helping them with their math homework and speaking with them about what they love to do.


After they were done with their school work, we headed to the gym for some exercise; they helped me with my basketball skills. I absolutely loved hearing all about their dreams and what they wanted to do when they graduate highschool. I hated that most of them felt that couldn’t make it to college. Being that I grew up in Newark, I encouraged them to pursue their passions just as I did. I told them that if something makes you happy then it’s worth the hard work. I could relate to them because I also grew up with little money wondering where my next meal was going to come from. Because of that, I knew the value in working hard to get the things that I want.

Not only have the children been great to work with, all the volunteers were a blast. I got the chance to meet some of the nicest and friendliest college students from all over they country. Everyone was amazing which made this trip very special to me. I also want to mention how great the staff at the Boys and Girls Club has been too. I see the way the kids admire and respect them, which inspires me to do the best that I can.

Apart from volunteering at the club, Thursday we got the chance to work at the NY Distribution food pantry. That day alone, we packaged over 30,000 meals for the people in need in that area. I’m excited about spending more of my time volunteering anywhere I can. I’m very grateful Wake Tech has jump started a drive in me because before completing my service learning project through the school and this ASB trip, I didn’t know where to start. Now, I can’t wait for my next volunteering project.

My Seven Day Family

A day that started out full of strange faces quickly evolved into the beginning of several great friendships. During the trip several relationships blossomed due to our passion for community work. Throughout the trip we did a variety of work with the New York Food Pantry, working to defeat hunger and homelessness. We were able to build on our friendships by practicing several bonding activities. One of the most memorable moments while bonding was playing Code Games with a variety of people from different schools. Everyone was very open to one another and we were able to build a friendships that were fun and full humor. During the game it was evident that no one could keep they’re cool and everyone wanted to laugh, especially Jason.. (look at the picture haha). Once our relationships grew the volunteering became extremely fun and we were able to stay positive throughout our experience.

Baptism By Concrete

“crunch” “crackle” “crunch” my Brooks sneakers sunk into the snowy, frozen crust. Despite making everything more frigid, the snow was a relief from the grayscale of colors that is New York. I hadn’t seen a tree in miles. As a native North Carolinian, that was a bit maddening. This was a trip full of first time experiences for me. The largest cities I’ve been to are fifteen minutes across at most.

This city is different.

This is the city.  

The initial impression of New York made my jaw drop. It was larger than life. Every building was garnished with swirly, intricate trim. Some buildings had entrances large enough to accommodate giants. The architecture of the city inspired a feeling of nationalism. I felt proud of the American craftsmanship that erected those buildings.

 As awe-inspiring as the city was, it proved to be just as intimidating. The metro system seemed cryptic. Even after a full week of immersion I still wouldn’t be able to navigate. The complexity of the subway, coupled with the layout of the streets was a steep learning curve for many of us. The people of New York seemed to be a little bit daunting as well. The difference in dialect made communicating slightly difficult at first.

I didn’t hear anybody say “yall” one time.

In spite of this, we only had to spend a little bit of time with the natives before we were speaking the same language. The Yorkers defied the stereotypes, and showed us a warm, charasmatic, work-hard attitude.

For my group, (the herd) our main service assignment was to assist in the community kitchen of Harlem. I was really impressed by how well run the kitchen was. The food was prepared with care, and the staff was exceptionally passionate about their work. The meals they prepared would have rivaled many surrounding restaurants. We cut carrots, scrubbed spatulas, and packaged meals for the clients to eat when the kitchen was closed. The enormity of these tasks was toppled by the tenacity of the staff. It was a joy to serve alongside them.

I was also able to serve in the food bank, in the Bronx.

The food bank gave the same, hardworking impression I saw in the community kitchen. Energetic people, working hard at what they do because they want others to have a better life. Around fifty of us spent the afternoon sorting through crates of packaged food, sorting them into boxes. A majority of breakers felt this was the most impactful service project of the trip, because it allowed us to impact a high volume of people.

Overall, ASB was an incredibly unique experience. Despite the highs and lows of the trip, I wouldn’t have changed much about the way spring break went. I really felt like I was able to experience New York City, and make a difference while I was at it.

First Volunteering Experience

where to start?. this week has been filled with excitement. we volunteered at various locations throughout the NYC area. the first day i spent it at the boys and girls club helping children with their homework. we helped them overcome their troubles and put smiles on their faces. a very fulfilling moment was when i helped a child with her homework. she was very shy but eager to learn. she reminded me of how i was when i first entered the states 12 years ago. helping at the food bank was the next site we volunteered. we helped package over 3,700 meals in the span of 3 hours. the fact that i was able to put a figure on the extent of our reach was amazing. it made me feel like i want to do more. never had i expected to be so emotionally touched by this experience, but then again i never wanted anything less.
I came to this trip hoping to find something new about myself and come home with a new perspective. what i actually found was much deeper. i found friendships in some of the greatest people i have ever met. I’ve discovered that through this common vision that we shared through the scope of this trip, we have helped so many people. from people’s infectious charisma, to others ever-growing support. we have grown to become a family. i have been deeply touched by the love and support that was shared between everyone here.
i would like to talk about a brother and a great friend. john has been the person that understood me the most here. i went through a lot of emotional situations this week and he has been the person that i could talk to about anything i struggled with. its difficult for men to show emotions, but i felt like i didn’t have to be the stereotype of what men should act like and become more like human being. this trip has been a humbling experience. i will do more volunteering in the future and i will also encourage anyone to participate even if you aren’t sure. i wasn’t sure about signing up at first and I’m glad i did because it has been one of the greatest decisions of my life.
i would also like to throw a special thank you to Mariel, Melody, Manny, and Mohammad for being the greatest team leaders ever. they have went above and beyond to make sure that everyone enjoys this unique opportunity. they have made this trip possible for everyone and for that i thank you!.

ASB 2k17

Today was a pretty chill day. We arrived today in newark liberty airport. The flight was pretty rough because my ears kept popping violently but it’s all part of the experience. We dropped our stuff at the Boys and Girls Club in Newark New Jersey. We then went to explore NYC and navigate the treacherous Metro system.

NYC is a beautiful city with many different sights and smells, especially smells. You haven’t seen a dirty bathroom untill you’ve seen a subway station bathroom. And why does it always smell like warm piss and weed. I guess that’s just their way of living. Everybody was kind of mean. Not necessarily towards us but just in general. People were honking as much as they breath. It sounded like a Symphony of cars.

I tried to get some directions in the metro from a random person and he just kept walking like it’s nobody’s business. We took an Uber from Penn Station to the Boys and Girls Club and our Uber driver wasn’t as stereotypical as I thought. I thought he was going to be yelling in his Bluetooth like they do in the movies. He wasn’t much of a talker but he played some dope Cuban music. Or was it Puerto Rican. I’m not entirely sure.

When we got to mid town though we filled up on some pizza. This was before the confusing Uber ride. That pizza wasn’t nearly as greasy as I expected it to be. It was still pretty good. Times Square was just as I saw on TV. The only thing that surprised me was that there were alot of police in full riot gear and they were all over. We stopped by the Hard Rock Cafe but it wasn’t my style in clothes so while all the girls were picking out what was cute, I was dancing to Taylor Swift’s blankspace. Some people appreciated my freedom of expression.

Even though we didn’t start our community service we did however get to see alot of the homeless population in New York. It was heartbreaking to see them actually out in the freezing weather. It’s really hard to observe that and not be able to do anything about it.

Boys & Girls Club of Newark, New Jersey

In the beautiful city of Newark, New Jersey the boys & girls club brought us in and allowed us to volunteer with working with their club members. Being a former boys & girls club member it was an amazing experience being able to see children involved in a such a great facility and support system to the community. The club is full of intelligent young minds and I am happy to say I was a part of working with our next generation.

Teamwork from a hot tamale.

Having been snowed in, the Breakers had time today to recuperate from the previous days and catch up on REM sleep. It was the perfect day to focus on teamwork and productive collaboration with all volunteers staying at the home base. We met to discuss different leading roles and how our personalities play into the way we contribute to a group project. The moment that stood out to me the most today was actually not in the meeting. I was walking past a Breaker from a different university and I walked past him with my head down as I usually do. He greets me and I am caught off guard. I felt like a team. I felt welcome and acknowledged. It made me rethink the way I communicate with the people around me that I don’t know. It pushed me to greet others the rest of the day, and it gave me a real feeling of togetherness in this common yearing to help others. I only became closer to everyone in the building and closer to making a difference in a city plagued with environmental injustice.

Food Bank for New York City: A day In the Bronx

Today we got a chance to go out and volunteer at the Food pantry in the Bronx, New York. Today was the first day we got to volunteer with students from other schools, and it was really fun getting to know everyone. My team (cat) had volunteers from Mansfield University and Ohio State University, and we all automatically clicked. We also got a chance to work with the mad dogs and get to know them as well.

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We got a chance to volunteer at the food pantry where we were in charge of stocking shelves and making the place look nice so that people coming in to get food could feel as though they were shopping. This helped relieve some of the embarrassment that comes with needing help and getting food for free.

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My favorite part of this was seeing how happy the regular workers were when they realized how much got done thanks to all the volunteers. We also got a chance to bag fresh produce that the customers would get to pick up without it counting towards their points. This experience made me realize how much I have and how much I take it for granted sometimes. I am very grateful for this opportunity, although it was behind the scenes and we didn’t interact with anyone we were helping. I knew deep down how much the workers and the customers appreciate it.

After service, we got a chance to go explore the city nd visit central park!

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Day 1: ASB Trip 2017 NYC

At last the day has come. Over 100+ interviews were conducted as interest in this year’s ASB trip to New York reached sky high. Thankfully all the students had met several times before the trip to bond and learn about homelessness and hunger.

We did a great job of meeting at the airport at 4am and everyone was accounted. This flight was also one of the students first flights ever (Paul).

We hung out for a bit in the gym when we arrived at the Boys and Girls Club in Newark and got to know each other a little bit by playing Telephone and “Tell Paul How Awesome He Is: The Game”.

After we recieved a tour of the Boys and Girls Club we locked up our belongings and ventured in New York City. Using New York’s transportation system is a feat in itself. We had to get to the right station, pay for the right tickets, and dash quickly out of trains to avoid being pincer-slammed by subway doors. Subway doors show no mercy.

I’m surprised that my greatest discovery of this trip occurred on the first day. I ran into the country’s greatest waffle maker, Wafel & Dinges. The waffle was piping hot, crunchy on the outside, and warm and reassuring in the middle. We do not have artisinal waffles like this is North Carolina.

One of the students, John, led us to one of New York’s finest coffee houses: Blue Bottle Cafe. The coffee was amazing. Thank you John!

After our trip to the city we went back to the Boys and Girls Club and got a chance to play ice breaker games with the 10 other schools participating in Alternative Spring Break.

My assigned team were the Wolves. I think we had the best team chant and team photo.

Our first day in New York was pretty fantastic. Looking forward to a fun and busy trip!

Manny

Bittersweet Goodbyes

 

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Our last day in New York was a great one. The group that wasn’t at the Common Pantry yesterday was given the opportunity to work there on Thursday. I think the general consensus of the whole Wake Tech group was that this was everyone’s favorite place. I was lucky enough to get to work downstairs taking orders and talking directly with the clients, and then I was moved upstairs in the hustle and bustle of packing up the grocery bags. I think we all felt we made the most impact at this site. They wouldn’t have been able to function or run the operation they did without help from volunteers like us. Melody’s group was sent out in the Bronx where they worked at a soup kitchen run by nuns, where no one spoke a bit of English! This created some difficulty in communication, but was ultimately a great experience to see the wonderful work that was being done. We all met back at YSOP for a final reflection about the poverty issues in New York and to discuss why the rates are rising, instead of falling. I think overall, it was a great experience for everyone involved. We said our goodbyes to the ladies from University of Wisconsin and the huge group from the University of Arizona. Bonds were definitely built through the week from similar experiences and having similar reasons for being in New York.

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The Wake Tech group headed over to our favorite pizza joint for one final delicious pizza and to figure out our plans for the evening. It quickly became apparent that there was still quite a bit of the city left unseen, and we decided we wanted to do as much as possible. We made a quick stop at the empire state building, ran over to Rockerfeller Plaza (which the ice skating rink seemed so much smaller in person!) and stopped by Grand Central Station!  We quickly learned of the Staten Island Ferry, which was a free trip and gave us the best view of the trip of the city (and a chance to sit down!). From there we went to Wall Street and had a silent moment at Ground Zero. We finally made it back to the hostel, exhausted and dreading the 9 hour car ride home, but it was well worth it to leave New York knowing we had seen as much as humanly possible.

Overall, I think that this trip was an absolutely wonderful learning experience, bonding experience and travelling experience. I think every one of us was ready to be home and sleep in our own bed, but felt the trip was worth it and the experience was life changing. We were given the opportunity to work in almost every borough, with people from entirely different backgrounds, and different stories. We were give the opportunity to sit down and dine with these people, talk to them on a human level and feel their sorrows and joys. I think what was most surprising to me was that the people running the soup kitchens and food pantries weren’t professionals, they weren’t trained, they were just people who saw a need and were doing the best that they could to make a difference. Thank you for your support and for following us on our journey!

~Until next year!

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