Category Archives: Living Learning Experiences

EC Scholars Provide Service, Reflect on Four-Year Journey

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, 17 EC Scholars traveled to Charleston, South Carolina where they led a service project at the Ronald McDonald House, connected with East Carolina University alumni and reflected on their four-year journey together.

The annual senior impact trip also included an outing to Fort Sumter to learn more about the history of Charleston.

At the Ronald McDonald House, students cleaned, removed holiday décor, cleaned the food pantry, organized the linen closet and freshened up rooms.

The also painted an elephant face on a pop can tab collector. Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide collect pop tabs as a fundraiser. 

The senior class described their time together as “entertaining, meaningful and rejuvenating,” said Dr. Diana Majewski, assistant director of the EC Scholars, who accompanied the students on the trip along with Dr. Todd Fraley, director of EC Scholars.

To view photos from the trip, visit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecuhonorscollege/albums/72157677587716551

Learning medicine in Nicaragua

By Conor Pumphrey, sophomore EC Scholar and Early Assurance in Medicine

Conor - NicaraguaThe summer following my junior year of high school, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua with St. James United Methodist Church. Though the team members vary each year, the group has been going to Nicaragua on this trip for over 12 years now. What intrigued me the most about this opportunity was that the trip was focused on providing medical care to the people of remote villages in the mountains. I was already interested in the medical field at this point and after the trip, my idea about wanting to become a physician was completely confirmed. I enjoyed this mission trip because I had the opportunity to do procedures that I would not have been able to do in the states such as testing for hemoglobin levels, glucose levels, taking blood pressure manually and with a machine, and testing for oxygen saturation levels. In addition, I was able to shadow the physicians that lead the trip. I decided to go again this summer because it was such an amazing experience for me.

The mission of the group is to provide basic health care to an impoverished country, especially the communities surrounding the city of Jinotega. The mission trip is one week long and the group has been lodged in the same orphanage every year since the first trip. The first day of this year’s trip was spent preparing for the first clinic that we held at the orphanage. This clinic served the kids at the orphanage, the staff and the surrounding community. Over the next two days, we had a clinic in the mountain villages and this is where I experienced some of the most memorable moments of my trip. One impactful moment was when we saw a man that was in his 80’s come into thNicaragua - Conore clinic wearing extremely dirty clothes with holes all over them. It looked like they had not been changed in weeks and he was wearing a plastic bag to stay dry during the rainy season. The interpreters said that he had walked 2 hours just to come get medical attention. It was amazing to see multiple members of the team give him personal items that they were wearing such as a hat, a raincoat, and clothes that we had at the clinic. Another patient came in with extreme pain in her arm. When we inquired more she said it only hurt when she was carrying buckets of water. The shocking part of the story was that she walks about 6 hours round trip a day to gather water from a stream, carrying several liters of water just to provide for her family.

Nicaragua Group - ConorThis trip not only provided me with great hands-on medical experience, but it was an eye-opening experience to see how the people of Nicaragua live. The people of this country would be blessed to live like the poorest of the people in America, and I think this is something many people would be shocked to witness. All of these reasons are why I love visiting this country and plan on continuing to go for many years to come.

ECU She’s the First Chapter represents at national summit

STFECUgroup“To become powerful, I only need one thing: an education.” One of the visiting She’s the First (STF) Scholars, Carlota from Peru, started her STF Summit presentation with this quote from Malala. What better way to affirm why 200+ high school and college students from around the world came to spend a weekend in the Big Apple? Social media played an integral part in She’s the First’s fifth Annual Campus Leadership Summit.

For the first time, the main stage sessions were livestreamed, and highlight speakers included Devonte Rosero (Magicians Without Borders), Callie Schweitzer (Editor-in-Chief of Motto by Time), and Erin Schrode (youngest person ever to run for Congress). You can watch them (and many more!) here: https://www.facebook.com/shesthefirst/videos

NametagThe ECU chapter of She’s the First was well-represented at the Summit this year, with six Executive Board members in attendance, including Co-Presidents (and Honors College seniors) Samantha Gonzalez and Keerthana Velappan. Another first for this year was breakout session tracks: Community Engagement, Global Citizenship, and Leadership Development. From building leadership tool kits to raising awareness about girls’ education on campus to creating videos for social change, all of the sessions proved to be useful in different capacities. And of course, it wouldn’t be She’s the First without a tie-dye cupcake bar! 

The ECU chapter members had a successful year with regards to fundraising, but the highlight of this year’s Summit was something that even they were not expecting. During the Campus Awards Ceremony, STF ECU was presented with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Citizenship, one of five awards given that night. They had prioritized global awareness speakers and activities this past year, but as a relatively new chapter, they felt fortunate to have even been nominated. 

STF AwardWrapping up yet another STF Summit, they left with the wise words of another visiting STF Scholar, Angelica from Guatemala, who said, “Be yourself wherever and whenever because you are a rock star; do your best every day, and never give up.”

Japan: An ‘inexhaustible variety of life’

By Josh Butler, a junior EC Scholar

Butler JapanStudying abroad in Tokyo, Japan, and the surrounding areas was an experience second to none that involved cultural immersion coupled with intellectual stimulation. Few places demonstrate values directly opposite to that of the United States like Japan, and experiencing these differences allows one to better understand the society he/she originates from and to view the United States from a foreigner’s perspective. Individualism versus collectivism; human rights versus rights of the collective whole; the person’s demand for respect versus a self-effacing respect for the other person; confrontation versus meekness; admittance versus ostracism. Juxtaposed standards such as these portray the differences between the United States and Japan respectively. Saying that experiencing these things profoundly increased my understanding of cross-cultural human nature would be a gross understatement.

Japanese foodI went to Japan entirely open-minded; however, I continuously found myself surprised at each restaurant, turn of the block, or bend in the path. Describing each surprise would take far too long for the purpose of a blog and simply not do the experience justice, so I will attempt a few. To begin with, convenience stores brought a whole new meaning to the word convenience. Instead of merely carrying an assortment of snacks, drinks, and simple essentials for the road, the common 711 or Family Mart convenience store in Japan was also full to the brim with fresh meals ranging from sandwiches to meats and bread. I often found myself in one of these stores to stock up on food for the guest house, grabbing a quick meal before our next excursion, or withdrawing cash from its ATM.

Tokyo cityMany people tend to look at a picture of Tokyo and liken it to New York City. Even though the skyscrapers are similar, the size of Tokyo, the biggest city in population density in the world that sports more places to eat than any other city, is simply too large to compare to its New York counterpart. Tokyo is also much cleaner, partly due to the lack of trash cans, subsequent reduction of trash quantity, and the taboo of eating while walking throughout the city. Trash is also separated between burnable items and plastics, reducing the necessity of landfills, unlike US practices.

Some restaurants feature a vending machine-like way of ordering. On the machine are pictures of meals (which are not photo shopped, like almost every menu in the US) and prices. After inserting some coins or a paper bill and choosing a meal, a ticket spiJapan- hikingts out, and the customer then passes it on to the cook. Pitchers of water are typically left on the table so you can refill the small glass as needed. Also, a waiter or waitress will only stop by your table if and when you call for their attention. From what I could discern, this is because meals are considered a private affair that are not to be interrupted unless the waiter/waitress is needed by the customer. I often forgot about this and waited at the table with friends, waiting for the waiter, when in fact the waiter was waiting for us.

Food portions are generally much smaller than in the US, and a typical meal consists mostly of noodles or rice, vegetables, and a small portion of meat (usually fish or pork). In addition, there are numerous American fast food restaurants, such as Carl Jr.’s, McDonalds, and KFC, in Japan. These restaurants demonstrate how Japan has been gradually westernized, influencing not only eating habits but choice of clothing and music as well.

Japan is a mesmerizing conjunction of the traditional and contemporary, the old and the new, the natural beauty of mountains and its wild monkeys and the adjacent concrete jungle of skyscrapers and modern wonders. These first-hand experiences have allowed me to see the United States from a fresh perspective and better comprehend what F. Scott Fitzgerald described as the “inexhaustible variety of life.”

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