Learning Not to Stereotype: Haysi, Virginia Alternative Spring Break Experience

Written By: Kadedra Davis


Kadedra Davis

I participated in the ABE to Haysi, Virginia and I can honestly say I was not disappointed. Before the trip I took the liberty to look up Haysi, Virginia just to see where I was going, and the views that popped up were amazing. When I found out it was near the mountains I expected that was the main reason Haysi was one of my top choices. I began to read more and was shocked by how small the town was. I thought my hometown, Grifton, NC, was small, but Haysi was even smaller and unfortunately that’s when I began to stereotype in my mind. I began to think things like “What’s the culture going to be like? Will anyone be offended by my industrial ear piercing? How often do they have visitors?” One of my bigger thoughts was “How many African Americans are in this area, or how often do they have African American visitors?” I was afraid of the things I didn’t know.

12803022_10207971834910338_135968919882223061_nI always told myself that I was not going to be one of those people who put labels on others or one who stereotyped, but there I was before I had even gotten there. I decided to make sure I went in with an open mindset and to be open to what the experience had to offer and I’m glad I did. I learned a lot of things from the trip and I’m hoping to keep them with me for the length of eternity. I learned that just because you may not have financial resources doesn’t mean you’re not rich in others areas. The people of Haysi were a very close community and because of that they were like a family. When someone needed help they were all there to show their support.

I had the opportunity to talk and to listen in on a conversation that was held between an ECU student and one of the locals. The question was asked “What do you like most about living in Haysi, VA?” She responded that she liked that it’s a small community and that she didn’t have to worry about her daughters when they’re out around town. She said she like how safe it was. I never realized how many perks and great things there were about living in a small town until I saw this community for myself. They were proud, rich in love and a held sense of community which I’m glad I got to experience this for myself.

10415672_1167294953310711_1060545438817788352_nI hope to be able to do this again and to make sure I continue to pass on the things that I’ve learned with others. Even though it’s cheesy and everyone knows it, you really shouldn’t stereotype anyone because you always learn more than you plan.

Baltimore Alternative Break Experience : Homelessness & Poverty

Written By: Walter Wright; International Business Major, Spanish

IMG_5439Over spring break I participated in the Baltimore ABE : Homelessness & Poverty trip. We stayed in a Catholic Parish in the Edmondson Township. During the trip we went to a few different places owned and operated by the Catholic Charities. These places included: Christopher Place; previously Incarcerated Men Employment Academy; Our Daily Bread; a Food Bank, where we served Lunch and ate Dinner, and talked to some of the residents in the programs there; St. Vincent’s Villas; Mental Health Facility for Children; Sarah’s House; Homeless Shelter for Families; HeadStart Preschool Program; and  A Homeless Health Center for a Homeless Awareness Walk through Baltimore.


While on this trip, I learned so much more about what it’s like to be homeless. One of the biggest reasons people find themselves homeless is due to mental health. Seeing people suffer and so needy is heartbreaking. I never see much of homelessness in Charlotte, where I am from, the majority of what I see is poverty, if anything. After this experience I will definitely be moving forward with trying to help out with this issue more.


Haysi, Virginia – Alternative Spring Break Experience

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Rachel Potter

Written By: Rachel Potter

Over spring break I participated in an Alternative Spring Break Experience in Haysi, Virginia. Haysi was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, but the greatest thing about Haysi are the people that live there.

The people of Haysi were so kind and welcoming, and they really wanted to make sure we felt comfortable. Talking with some of the people in town made me understand what life in Haysi was like. Fresh fruits and vegetables were hard to come by, and because of that the town applied to be classified as a food desert. The shutting down of local coal mines put a lot of people out of their jobs, and even though those people had skills that could be transferable, there was no way for them to get any kind of training. In addition, another problem Haysi is facing is the lack of youth involvement in the community. From what I heard, many people leave Haysi after they graduate high school and never look back. These three issues combined is what poverty looks like for the people of Haysi.

While in Haysi our group completed a community service project. Our project was to build a retaining wall that people could sit on when there were festivals and gatherings downtown. The original plan was for the wall to be a retaining wall only, but we built it far enough into the ground so people could sit on it. In addition, we built a place for a flower bed on the end of the wall. The wall turned out beautiful and the people of Haysi really seemed to like it. Working extremely hard on this wall made me so proud of the outcome and the joy it brought to the people of Haysi.

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Another way we got immersed in the community was attending a square dancing class put on by the “Virginia Squares” at the Kiwanis Club. We attended the class on Monday night after a long day of building. I met many people there that had lived in Haysi their whole lives, and had worked in the coal mines before they were shut down. While these people had many reasons to give up, they never did and continued dancing and having a good time living their lives.

The people of Haysi have taught me that no matter what kind of biases you have about a certain group of people, you never know that person until you listen to their story. Poverty for Haysi is lack of access, specifically access to jobs, fresh foods, and youth engagement. I will never forget this trip, and hope that I will be able to go back to Haysi this summer to do more community service, because the people there deserve more opportunities. This trip has changed the way I look at poverty, and I hope I can live the rest of my life reflecting what I learned about poverty and overcoming biases.

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Participants in the Haysi, Virginia Alternative Spring Break Trip

The Textchange App Created by ECU Student Sara Dover

thetextchangeThe Textchange is an app that provides a marketplace for ECU students to buy, sell and trade textbooks among their peers. The business was founded in August of 2013 and launched in April of 2015. Sara Dover, the founder, recruited a marketing team of 11 ECU undergraduate students from the College of Business during the fall semester of 2014. Together, the team was able to successfully execute several marketing efforts throughout the course of the spring semester. These included hosting events at student apartment complexes, working closely with established small businesses within the community, and sponsoring Relay for Life. The Textchange also participated in the pitch competition at Spazz Fest in March of 2015, and worked closely with the American Marketing Association of ECU throughout the start up process.


The Textchange is currently undergoing some changes to promote future growth. Dover has taken on a partner, Ferdinand Rouse, an MBA student at ECU. Rouse is in the process of pursuing new directions to help students have access to more affordable textbooks in the future.

The Textchange recently participated in the Emerging Issues, BB&T, and ECU Small Business Institute for the Discovery Forum on October 1, 2015. Here The Textchange pitched their idea to a group of judges. The Textchange team, consisting of Sarah Dover and Ferdinand Rouse, placed third in this competition and will be moving forward in the competition for a chance to win $10,000 to help their idea become a reality.

The resources at ECU have been essential in the beginning successes of The Textchange. The support of the faculty along with the focus on entrepreneurship makes the environment at ECU an excellent place from small business to thrive.

College of Business Student Named NAPSLO Scholar

IMG_0080The National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO) recently named ECU senior Houston Pittman of Greenville as its Bermuda Scholar for 2015.

Pittman completed a competitive 10-week NAPSLO summer internship program in August, selected as one of 16 interns nationwide – out of a pool of nearly 100 applicants. Those interns attended NAPSLO’s Annual Conference in September and competed for three scholarships to study the London and Bermuda markets. Pittman is the first student from ECU to be admitted to the NAPSLO internship and scholar programs.

While in Bermuda for three weeks, Pittman will learn the particulars of that marketplace and how it interacts with the U.S. and U.K. industries more broadly. There will be an emphasis on reinsurance, as well as an examination of how the industry interacts with the local economy.  He will spend time with a home office in Bermuda, but he will also visit its regulatory authorities and the Chamber of Commerce to get a comprehensive view.

Dr. Brenda Wells, director of ECU’s Risk Management and Insurance program, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of Houston. He put forth an amazing effort to earn a position in this prestigious group of students, and not only was he selected for the program, he earned one of its two highest honors. He is a pleasure to have in class and a wonderful ambassador for ECU’s College of Business.”

Pittman plans to graduate this December with a concentration in Risk Management and Insurance. During the school year, he has worked 30 to 40 hours each week as an ECU Transit supervisor, along with his work as a full-time student. He currently serves as president of ECU’s Gamma Iota Sigma chapter, the international risk management, insurance, and actuarial science collegiate fraternity. Pittman has earned three scholarships for academic achievement during his time at ECU.

The Australian Rainforest

Hunter Chapman

Hunter Chapmon: Management; Senior; Durham, NC

When we left the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, we took the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway over the adjacent Barron Gorge National Park. The cable cars hold up to six people and provide exquisite views of Australia’s tropical rainforest. We rode through the mountains for about an hour and a half, stopping at a couple lookout points within the forest. Eventually, we reached Kuranda, a unique village in the middle of the rainforest.

At Kuranda, there are a few restaurants as well as many shops to get Aboriginal/rainforest souvenirs. A few of us decided to instead take a riverboat cruise down the Barron River. The river runs through the rainforest and allowed us to get much closer to some of the wildlife. We fed fish and ducks, and we also saw many other animals such as turtles and crocodiles.

Australian Rainforest

The tropical rainforests of Australia are the oldest surviving tropical rainforests on the planet, dating back over 120 million years. They have shrunk significantly in size over the years, but are still extremely diverse and home to many interesting species. Hundreds of rare plant species can be found in these tropical rainforests, as well as thousands of others. They are also home to various types of kangaroos, including two types of tree kangaroos and the most primitive – the Musky Rat Kangaroo. Another unique creature found in the forest is the Southern Cassowary, Australia’s largest flightless bird.


The rainforest was definitely one of the best parts of the trip, right next to the Great Barrier Reef. In 1998, the tropical rainforests of Australia were added to the World Heritage list, ensuring their protection and preservation. Neither words nor pictures can do justice to the beauty of Barron Gorge National Park, but it was definitely an experience I will not soon forget.

Free Day in Brisbane


Brandon Jenkins

Brandon Jenkins; Finance; Senior; Culpeper, VA

One of our last free days in Brisbane, Australia unfortunately started out as a rainy day but we still managed to get out and explore around the area some. Since we were on the go all the time, on the free days, we wanted to just take it easy and relax but with so many different things to do, we powered through it. Most of the group went to the zoo, but a small group of us stayed in the city to do some things around there.

To start out, we walked down to the Botanical Gardens, where we saw amazing landscaping while walking on a pathway down by the river. I was very surprised to see that a lot of people walking there were in business attire.  It seemed as if they were all taking walks while on their lunch breaks or on some sort of break.Botanical Gardens, Brisbane It was around noon when we were walking through it and there was a big group of people playing a pick up game of rugby. Along with seeing people all around being active and enjoying the gardens and fresh air, they had public bike stations set up all up and down the path for rent.  It was free once you bought the one time 2-dollar membership pass. While walking down the side of the river, we could see some cliffs on the other side. So with it being a free day and nothing planned, we decided to figure out a way to get to the other side and look around there some. Once we finally made it over to the cliffs, we found out that it was called Kangaroo Point.  It was a set of cliffs that was open to the public to go rock climbing on or repelling down. They made it so you could start at the top or bottom of the cliffs, which made for some great spots to take pictures of the city. It was mainly back on the other side of the river.

Kangaroo PointWe walked around the cliffs for a while and then talked to some locals.  We made our way to the City Hopper, which was a free ferry that dropped us off at different locations along the river. Although we didn’t have any activities planned to start the day, we were easily able to find plenty of interesting things to go out and do. Finally getting back to the room around five o’clock, I relaxed some before most of the group met back up for dinner, where we talked about the different things each other did. Overall the day turned out great, even though it started out a little rainy.  It was great to be able to just explore around the city on our own.

Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise

June 14, 2015

Brisbane, Australia-Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise

Jessica Holland

Jessica Holland; Management and Sociology (Double Major); Junior; Eden, NC

Today was our first full day in Brisbane, Australia and it was a free day. We were free to do whatever we wanted so being the adventurous teens that we are we decided to go to the beach. Almost everyone in the group wanted to visit the Gold Coast so our amazing bus driver, Cam, made it happen. When we started to leave the apartments, it was so rainy and awful outside but we stuck to our guns. We were going to the beach!

Ten after Ten, we finally arrived. The sun was beginning to come out and everyone was jumping to get out of his or her seat. First stop: surf shop of course! All of the guys and some of the girls wanted to try surfing, however, that’s not the best idea for a clumsy person like myself. So a couple girls and I went to the dollar store just down the strip and bought towels and tank tops that screamed ‘tourist’. Is there any other way to act in another country?

After finishing up with shopping and renting surfboards, it was a beeline to the beach for us. The surfers in the group quickly got the boards and headed out into the water. Keep in mind it was not the best weather for a beach day, let alone surfing for beginners but they went anyway. The sunbathers or attempted sunbathers (me) put out towels and basked in the beauty that is Australia. If you are anything like me, I get bored easily. The clear blue water and probably dangerous Australian wildlife was calling my name. A few of us headed for the water’s edge, which was awfully cold unfortunately. Some turned back but did I? Absolutely not. I’m in Australia; I’m getting in the water. Thankfully for me, the further out the warmer it became. It was only the surface that was cold and uninviting.

Gold Coast

One other girl and I probably floated around for a good thirty minutes. I would have stayed longer but as mentioned earlier; that weather created a nasty riptide that was quite a workout. I have experienced a pretty bad riptide before and they are not fun and not exactly safe. Of course being the rebellious teens that we all are, we were swimming outside of the flags, which means outside of the area patrolled by the local life savers (Australian version of life guards). After an exhausting swim we packed up and headed to another beach!

Our second stop: Surfer’s Paradise. Trust me, the name says it all. Everyone was drooling because it was that wonderful. I am 98% sure we are all going in on a house and moving there in the near future actually (just kidding, Mom). In all seriousness, Surfer’s Paradise was nothing short of perfect. Our time there was short but our memories will last a lifetime. Who knows though, reunion in five years guys? I’m in!

Surfer's Paradise Coastline


Surfer's Paradise

The Journey to the Land Down Under

June 09, 2015

Sydney,  Australia

Maggie Wilfong, Marketing, Senior, Raleigh, NC

The day had arrived.  It was time to start the 2-day voyage from Raleigh, North Carolina to Sydney, Australia.  As my mom dropped me off at RDU airport, she left me with the words “You are going to have the time of your life.”  From that moment the reality had set in that I was finally on my way to a country filled with new adventures.  As soon as I walked into the airport I was greeted with smiles and a warm welcome from the group I would be spending the next two weeks with.  I could tell it was going to be a great trip.

I have always heard it took a decent amount of time to get to the land down under.  This excursion proved that to be true.  The trip to Australia entailed a total of three flights, spanning about two days.  The flight from Raleigh left around 3:45 pm on June 7th and the last flight landed in Sydney at approximately 7:30 am on June 9th.  There was not much of a June 8th due to crossing the International Date Line and jumping forward 14 hours on the way to Sydney.  The first flight was from Raleigh, NC and stopped in Dallas, TX, then to Los Angeles, CA and from there our group caught the last flight to our end destination of Sydney.  For the flight from Raleigh to Dallas I found myself placed in a middle seat, snoozing in and out over the 3-hour length.  Once we arrived in Dallas there was not much of a lay over time until the next flight to Los Angeles. I was fortunate enough to get a window seat for this flight; it gave me the opportunity to have some amazing views.

Plane to Australia

After arriving in Los Angeles there was a lay over of about 2 hours until the flight to Sydney. This was the perfect amount of time to get some food for the upcoming 14-hour flight.  When 11:15 pm rolled around it was time to board the last plane.  Caroline, a fellow member of the study abroad group sat beside me.  We also sat next to a man who was from Sydney and returning from a stay in Las Vegas.  By the end of the flight we got to know a lot about him.   He told us about Sydney and recommended some of the best spots to visit.  It was fascinating getting to meet someone from where we about to visit.  This made me even more eager to start my Australian adventure. The plane landed around 7:30am, which marked the beginning of our group’s time in Sydney.  I could not be more excited to see what the beautiful city of Sydney has in store!

Holi Festival!

Holi before

Holi Before


Holi is a spring festival also known as the festival of colors or the festival of love. Lately the festival has been expanding into Europe and North America as a spring celebration for love, frolic and colors. At the festival people throw colored water and chalk at each other. There is no such thing as status, at this festival everyone is equally assaulted with color and happiness.


During the Holi festival

Last Friday ECU threw a Holi festival in front of the Hendrix Theater. It was thrown to allow students to embrace a different type of culture that they might not have been familiar with. There was an educational speech about the Holi festival followed by a dance and delicious Indian food. Lastly they began to play music until everyone received a bag of color. Then began the count down; 3, 2, 1 (you then begin to hear the roar of the crowd followed by multiple colors being thrown into the air). When people ran out of color they would run back to the booth and receive more until there was nothing left. It was a joyous celebration filled with smiles and laughter. Even after getting pelted in the face by what I think might have been the color purple I kept a smile on my face. After I got my sweet revenge we both kept smiling and possessed no anger towards one another. It was amazing! If you have the opportunity to come to the event next year, I would recommend it.



During the Holi festival