Month: April 2017

A New Kind of Living

Written By: Hannah Hamilton 17′

My name is Hannah Hamilton I’m a senior here at Castleton University who just transferred this year from Burlington College in Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoorBurlington, Vermont. Burlington College closed last May right after graduation, so as a result of that, I had to find a new school to apply to, and fast. I heard about Castleton from one of my professors at Burlington College and decided to check it out. I was first drawn to the Art program here because I could concentrate on Photography, which was what my major was at BC, so the transition from there to here wouldn’t be as difficult. From there I looked over housing options here at Castleton and realized that the “Houses” looked pretty cool. The first one that grabbed my attention was North House, or in other terms, the brand new service themed house.

Throughout my high school years, I enjoyed going down to Tennessee to build and restore homes for people in the Appalachian Mountains. From this experience, I connected it to Service House and felt that this was the best fit for me to live in. I’ve always been inclined to help others and give back to the community, and I really enjoyed finding others who enjoyed the same. For that reason, I chose to live in North House last May while visiting Castleton. I liked that they gave back to the community and for each semester you have to fulfill a certain amount of hours. I personally enjoyed this dorm because it’s unlike any other residence hall on campus.

Living in this house, you dedicate 15 hours per semester to serving others. You go to different events on- or off-campus to help people that ask for help, or you reach out and organize something with them. These events vary from picking up trash after a big event or holiday weekend, to cheering on walkers at the Alzheimer’s walk/run event, and then freezing while helping people park Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and outdoorfor the Penguin Plunge on a cold  morning. All of the events that I mentioned were just a few of those which I participated in while living in this residence hall.

The benefit that you get from living in this house is helping others in your community. When I give back to others, it makes me feel good knowing that I was able to help them in any way that I can. You also get to bond with the other people living in the house because you carpool to different events and get to know others outside of the just living in the same space. When you are shy or new, these “mandatory” events allow you to open up and get to know others without doing it alone. I think this dorm is good for any year in college that you are, you can decide freshman year or even senior year to apply. It benefits everyone for different reasons and I believe that it helps everyone grow that much closer with their community outside of campus life. Sometimes as students and as people we need to look outside our bubble and realize that there are others who might need some help here and there, and not be afraid to step up and lend a helping hand.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Habitat Goes the Distance

Written By: Shaun Williams – Assistant Director of Residence Life at Castleton University, Habitat Club Advisor

Dear Emma,

This is a hard thing for me to do, I think every day about how I can explain to people who ask me how was Georgia. The things that come to mind are “Where’s Kyle”, you peeing your pants at reflection, Corey’s Nip slip, talking with the
owner about her story, Ron, Bobby, and Jon Michael. All things that would never really mean anything to the people who asked me about the trip. These trips are something greater than all of us and help us each for many different reasons. The trip at its core is about spending a week during spring break not partying, not drinking, not sun bathing, but building a home or doing a project that will change the course of someone’s life.

Then you spend two days in a car with people and you start seeing a bond while singing musicals and asking questions about who these people are. Then we start our work. We start to understand that through our hard work we are building a shelter, a home for someone who does not have adequate and safe housing. Wall after wall, truss after truss you become bonded with these 15 individuals who did not really grasp yet what they were accomplishing that first day. Then we go home from the site, even though we want to keep building because there is so much more still to do.

We get home, we have dinner, and we do our first night of reflection. What does this trip mean to you, what are you most excited for, what has surprised you. The night is usually filled with conversation and stories of our first day. We repeat this for four more nights. The day is always the hardest. You have bonded with strangers, people who you are now friends with. You say goodbye to the workers on site, wishing you had more time with them to just finish one more project, you get sad that you might not see them again. I would imagine it can feel like a depression hits you. But at the same time you feel accomplished, you feel a sense of completion, that you are again apart of something greater. You go back to the church where you make dinner one last time and you sit down for your last reflection. We laugh, we cry, and we share all of our great memories. Shaun then will say something like no one can ever take this experience away from you. We are all now bonded together by what we just accomplished.

Raise your hand if you would have been friends with everyone here back at school if we all did not go on this trip. (No one raises a hand). That is why this is so special. We take risks, we don’t judge, we work together to better the lives of strangers and then somehow we better the lives of the people we went on the trip with. We all leave better people. The challenge of writing anything about an event like this, the 15 people who went on this trip understand every word that was just written, and everyone else has to imagine what it was like but will never fully understand until they experience something like this for themselves.

Close your eyes, honestly close your eyes and imagine a time you accomplished something, something you were told you wouldn’t, something that gave you intense happiness. Imagine a time you changed a life or someone changed yours, think of those feelings you had. That is what it is like, just greater. My one piece of advice for anyone who is reading this, take that risk, travel abroad, sign up for habitat, get out of your comfort zone, the world will be a better place because of it.
Your life will change with an experience like this and I promise you when you look back at photos of your on spring break it will never compare to photos of your building something that will change someone’s life.

I could never use words to do justice about what took place that one week in Georgia. It is a gift that was given to the 15 people who embarked on an adventure to a warm location to build a home. They all came back a better person and changed forever.


-Shaun Williams

Changing Lives

Written By: Rebekah Jensen 17′

I had the opportunity with 40 others to go on a medical and public health brigade to Honduras. We traveled by car, bus, airplane, and bus again with 45 bags (2,250 pounds) of supplies to Honduras. While this trip counted as my clinical hours for my Community Health Nursing course, I was able to serve and in return fall in love with the beautiful people and country of Honduras. Beside myself, eighteen other Castleton University students went on this brigade. The whole group goes through the NY-VT Nurses Global Brigades chapter, which consists of nurses, nurse practitioners, students, and laypersons.

NY-VT Nurses have gone to Honduras in the past to do medical brigades; this year the public health portion was added. During the medical brigade this year we saw just under 800 patients in three days. These three days we set up a clinic in a local school in one of the communities in Honduras. The stations that are set up to make the clinic fully-functional include: intake, triage, clinic rooms with doctors and nurse practitioners, OBGYN, optometry, dental, pharmacy, children’s charla (education), adult charla, and DI (data input). When we arrived in the morning for our medical days the street would be lined up with people waiting to be seen; some people would wait for hours in the hot sun to get treatment and care. Global Brigades provides translators for us and there are also community members that help us throughout the day at each station.

Public health also lasted three days of the trip. For the public health our team provided hygiene stations to six different families in another community in Honduras. We were split into six smaller working groups and worked alongside masons in order to build the hygiene stations properly. The hygiene stations include water storage, shower, latrine, and an area to wash clothing. These stations are made out of cinder blocks and cement to form a solid foundation and walls; the roof and door are made out of corrugated tin. These hygiene stations are located outside the home.

I had heard about the change people feel when they go on a Global Brigades trip, but I never expected to feel the way that I did after. In just nine days, I was able to feel at home in Honduras and the people who work for and with Global Brigades made it welcoming and safe. Each day was long and tiring, but the work that we were able to do, to make a difference, was unforgettable. NY-VT Nurses and Castleton University students were able to come together and make a difference. Smiles are contagious, and I was able to see that happening every day throughout my time in Honduras. For anyone wanting to get involved, NY-VT Nurses works all year long at collecting donations of supplies that are used for the clinic and community members while in country on the brigade. There are also many opportunities for fundraising throughout the year in order to provide all the care and services for the medical and public health brigade.

In closing, words cannot encompass the value this trip was to many others and me. I went to serve others on a medical and public health brigade, but got so much in return from the beautiful people and country of Honduras that they call home.

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