“Alternative Breaks at CSU have absolutely been my best experience so far at college. Going into it as a participant in 2011, I thought I would come out with some cool volunteer experience, and something sweet to put on my resume. Little did I know that I would leave Alternative Spring Breaks with not “friends” but a family, a completely changed perspective on life and how I serve, and a new career path. When I was a participant, I went on the Washington D.C. trip. Homelessness is an issue that has always been close to my heart, so it seemed like a great fit. We spent the first 48 hours of our trip living on the streets in D.C., homeless ourselves; no place to sleep, eat, or just be. Those 48 hours on the streets completely changed the way I view society and humanity in negative as well as positive ways, and really showed me how I can better serve the homeless community; by the different needs that I may not have recognized they had, as well as just offering CONVERSATION and LOVE to them. The rest of the week we worked with various organizations throughout the D.C. area, and my experience with being homeless myself (even though it was for such a short period of time) really helped me to better serve the individuals we interacted with. After coming home from Alt. Breaks, my experience on the D.C. trip was all I could talk about, and still all I can talk about. I am beyond excited to be able to return to D.C. as a site leader this year, and continue to serve there alongside a new set of friends, a new family. I STRONGLY encourage everyone to apply for a trip: with 15 different trips focusing around many different social justice issues in our society, there is a fit for everyone. Alternative Breaks are a great reminder of how privileged we are in Fort Collins, and how small we are compared to the rest of the world. It’s an opportunity to take the benefits (physical, financial, emotional, strength in numbers) that we may have and others don’t, to not “help” them but to work with them together to better their lives, and in return also better yours. Alt. Breaks are truly putting change and passion into action. Whatever service you give to others on your trip, I guarantee you will leave feeling just as much, if not more, blessed and enlightened. It’s an experience that will truly change your life.”
~ Sarah Jensen
Hello Rams, and happy first day of Fall 2013!
Ever since I can remember I have been the type of person who is overly excited for classes to start. I had my outfit picked out a week in advance; all of my school supplies purchased from good old Target the second it hit the shelf months before school was even in sight; and woke up eagerly for the first day of class. Needless to say, that hasn’t changed even going into my junior year of college.
Today, I actually was more excited than ever for a new year to begin, mainly due to the amazing weekend I just experienced. I had the privilege of being a Ram Welcome Leader to a group of 35 incoming freshman. Although I was absolutely exhausted from the long days, I was also inspired by how enthusiastic each of them was to be a CSU Ram. Toward the end of our time together, one girl raised her hand and asked what I would say if I could give them one piece of advice. My answer was simple: get involved.
I told them that although we are here to learn and gain a highly valued education, being a college student is much more than that. It is an experience. I believe it is crucial to engage outside of the classroom in something you are passionate about and can grow in. Not only will this help to build relationships and gain exposure to new things, it is a way to give back to your school and community during your time here in Fort Collins.
So, I encourage all Rams as I did for my first year students: get involved, find your passion and immerse yourself in the things you love! To find that niche, come on out to the Involvement Expo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 26, on the Intramural Fields to check out some opportunities CSU and our community have to offer. As a bonus, you can also help us Grill the Buffs!
Last Friday, I didn’t have class until 2PM, but I found myself up at 7AM, bleary-eyed and groggy, dragging myself over to the North Aztlan Community Center. To be clear: I am a college student. I like my sleep. So why was I passing up a chance for an extra six hours sleep? I was volunteering at Project Homeless Connect.
Project Homeless Connect is an annual event put on in partnership between the SLiCE office, United Way of Larimer County, Homeward 20/20, and many other community organizations. The goal of Project Homeless Connect is to make important resources available to the local Fort Collins homeless population, easily and without bureaucratic red tape. Volunteers are matched up one-on-one with clients, and volunteers are responsible for guiding their partner around the event, connecting them to services and educating them on resources.
While that is helpful work, and I did plenty of it last Friday, the services rendered aren’t what I remember. The clients I helped to get their hair cut for the first time in weeks, ate a hot meal with, and get employment assistance will hopefully remember the services, but I will remember them. I remember the people I met, and the connections I forged, not on a service level, but on a personal level. I found myself thinking about these people all weekend. I find myself thinking about these people, here, today.
During the five hours I spent at Project Homeless Connect, I was paired with only two clients, which meant I had a lot of time to get to know both of them. My first client-for anonymity let’s call him Tyler-was one of the very first people in line, waiting for the doors to open at eight o’clock. Tyler told me that the shelter where he was staying turned people out at 6:15 AM, and he didn’t really have anywhere better to go than straight to the PHC line. On the exit survey, his suggestion to improve the event was to “start earlier.”
Tyler’s a recovering alcoholic. Tyler’s homeless, living out of a shelter. Tyler’s also a rabid fan of one of my favorite sports teams, the Colorado Avalanche, and we were able to spend a good thirty minutes talking over coaching decisions, our experiences going to games, and the relative ups and downs of the team’s current defense. None of my friends like hockey– I never really get the chance to discuss it with anyone outside of the internet. Just getting the chance to see that interest, have the discussion, made me look at Tyler in a different way.
The day after Project Homeless Connect, sitting in the lower level of the Pepsi Center, watching the Avalanche achieve a rare, last-second victory over the Vancouver Canucks, I thought about Tyler. I wondered if he was watching the game somewhere– maybe sitting forlornly in a sports bar, sipping on a water. I thought about how, but for a few factors beyond our control, it could be him in the Pepsi Center, me, who knows where.
After Tyler had gotten all the assistance he needed, he went back to the shelter to grab his bike and bring it in for a tune-up, a service he hadn’t been aware we would offer. I would see him later in the day, hanging around with a happy smile, boxing with someone else’s kid. I suspect he was just happy for something to do.
I went back in line and waited for another client who might need my help. In front of me in the volunteer queue was a woman, Amy, who had lived with on my floor in the dorms. This used to be a woman I would see every day. “You’re so different from that little nerd freshman year,” she says, as we get to talking. I laugh, a little. She inquires about my love life, I about hers, and we catch up a bit while we ponder the different paths life has taken us down.
Even within the constriction of university life, sharing a common starting point, Amy and I have diverged wildly from each other. The plurality of experience offered at a four-year college is something it’s easy to forget about, as focused in on our own lives as college students can often get. This is what I’m thinking about when a volunteer coordinator pulls the two of us out of the line, and over to a group of three “vaguely unrelated” people, whose current volunteers must to return to campus for class.
Here I meet Michael. I can immediately tell something is slightly off with him, from the way he talks and how his eyes move. This doesn’t bother me; after all, according to national statistics, about a third of homeless people have some sort of mental illness. We had been prepared for the possibility at volunteer training. And Michael, whatever his issue is, seems like a nice guy. He’s cogent, congenial, and although he has a little difficulty remembering what services he’s here for, he’s happy to chat with me and walk around.
I split off with Michael, while Amy takes his two companions in search of different services. Michael mostly is interested in bikes: he tells me that he loves mountain biking, and he once did “a thousand flips” while on a bike. I nod along, smiling. Michael’s new to town, looking for a place to live, but having difficulty finding cheap rent. I take him to the rent assistance table, and the housing search people. We go to see if we can get him a Colorado ID to replace his old out-of-state one.
As we’re walking around outside, enjoying a bit of sunshine and fresh air, out of the blue, Michael says: “I hear suicide voices.” Ah, so you’re a schizophrenic, I ask him. He nods assent. “As long as I take my pills, I don’t hear the suicide voices though,” he says, as if to comfort me. “I took my pills today. I take 20 different pill.”
Now I’m very intrigued. I’ve got an aunt who is schizophrenic, takes her pills every day, and you can’t hardly carry on a conversation with her at all. Despite occasional trouble understanding Michael due to his speech impediment, our conversation hasn’t flagged since I met him. In fact, he’s a downright chatterbox, more than happy to fill me in about his life, his struggles, or ask insightful questions about Fort Collins, a town to which he is still adjusting.
Again, I come back to thinking about how entirely different people can be, despite their similarities. Two people, my aunt and Michael. Same disease. Both in treatment. Michael here, homeless, my aunt off in New York, living under the roof of my aging grandmother, who never really stopped being a mother to her ill child. Michael, able to converse and think and say: “I want a picture of myself,” and walk right over to the photo booth and set up an appointment. My aunt, who gave me a three-sizes-too-large blue Old Navy thermal with a massive toothpaste stain on it the last time I saw her. I’ve kept the thing folded up in a drawer ever since I got it, for little discernible reason.
Homeless. College students. Employed. Unemployed. On the streets. In an apartment. Old. Young. Male. Female. There are so many binaries and divisions in the way we tend to think of people. It’s easy to see why we divide things this way: it makes them categorizable, it makes them understandable, and it allows us to study them. The academic model. But the true value in Project Homeless Connect, at least for me, was in the way it perfectly demonstrates how all of those binaries are nothing but obstacles. Those categorizations and social classifications are very misleading constructs that actually prevent us from being compassionate and understanding one of the universal truths:
That people are all a million different variations on the same story. Maybe your life turned in a few fortunate ways, maybe Tyler’s went in the wrong direction for a little bit. But no matter how different two people may seem, no matter how much you may insist that you are different, or better,
It never hurts to give thanks for what you’ve got.
And it never hurts to help.
Apparently, with the assistance of some computer algorithms many facts about your life can be predicted simply from your Facebook “Likes.” These researchers are 88% effective at determining sexual orientation from facebook likes, 82% effective at distinguishing between Christians and Muslims, among other inferences.
That’s a little scary. Not necessarily because of the correlations they’ve found already, but more because of what could come after. As our society increasingly digitizes and we pour more and more of ourselves into the computer keyboard, will the notion of “that’s personal” start to disappear more and more? These are pretty boilerplate concerns with the evolution of the internet, I suppose. Just been on the mind today.
As the resident Social Media Coordinator here at SLiCE, I found this article contained very interesting information. Sure, it goes without saying that by telling people what you like, you are telling them about yourself. BUT is that information necessarily something you want marketers to have open access to? Would you be more selective with what you “Like” and post on social networks if it was made explicitly clear to you that everything can and will be used to market to you?
Curious about your thoughts on the matter.
Leadership used to be seen as a trait that one could inherent. The world operated as if
there was a “leadership gene” that a child could acquire from a parent, making them wise
enough to lead a country or innovative enough to run a company.
On Tuesdays during the academic year, a group of students gather in a unique classroom
environment that challenges this idea.
The President’s Leadership Program (PLP) is a comprehensive leadership experience that
can be encompassed through a sentiment expressed by Warren Bennis: “Leaders are not
born; they are made.”
PLP develops Colorado State University students into leaders in a way that enriches all
aspects of a student’s life.
“PLP is one of the most incredible programs at CSU,” senior Business Administration
major David Ovitsky commented, “It has drastically increased my understanding of
service and leadership, while connecting me with some amazing students who have a
positive impact on my life”
Ovitsky participated in the first and second year of the three year PLP program. As a part
of the first year PLP curriculum, he attended a service trip to Chimayo, New Mexico in
which his PLP class joined together with residents to dig ditches for cleaner water in the
area. In year two of the program, Ovitsky did a PLP sponsored internship with Velocity
Real Estate and Investments.
Each year in the three year program has a different focus and offers different
opportunities to the students involved.
The first year, A Call to Lead, is an introductory class which explores leadership
as service. Students in the 4 credit, year long class attend sessions on: basic
leadership theory, diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice, culminating in
the off-campus service trip.
The second year, Leadership as Life (a 4 credit course) is the intermediate class
where students apply leadership theory during an internship experience with local
non-profit or business organizations.
The last year is Leadership Capstone; a 6 credit, advanced course where students
study: organization behavior, leading change, and globalization as well as
problems related to power, privilege, and oppression. In the second semester,
students develop and implement a service project that positively impacts the Fort
A Call to Lead can be an extra special class for students in the first few years of their
CSU career because it is a great way to connect with other students. As student who
participated first year PLP during her first year at CSU, Destiny Darby appreciates the
community that she built with her class. “It has been great getting close to my peers,”
Darby said, “it is a fantastic way to get involved on campus and in my community.”
However, this sense of community is built through all PLP classes. Rachel Washington,
a Leadership Capstone student, sees PLP as a place to make an ally as well as a friend.
“Through having conversations with my class, I have gained an insight to how many
other students have similar passions as me,” Washington explained.
All PLP students must go through the same application process—even current PLP
students must reapply to the program every year. In addition, the three courses don’t
have to be taking consecutively. A student can apply to be in PLP during any part of their
career at CSU.
Applications for the 2013-2014 year are due on April 1st.
For more information and to access the online applications visit PLP.colostate.edu.