Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Travels to Turkey- Part 2

While my main purpose for traveling to Istanbul was to attend the conference, it was impossible not to explore the breathe-taking city; I was eager to discover the historic city and their culture. I was a bit worried at first because I had arrived all alone and did not want to go out alone in a foreign country. Thankfully, I met wonderful people at the conference, who invited me to go out with them. With such limited time, a group of us decided it was best to visit the main attractions of the city.  Istanbul is known as the home of belly dancing and it is one of the great sources of pride.  So it came as no surprise when all of the locals described Sultana’s dinner show as a must see. It was a Turkish restaurant that included cultural shows, belly dancing, music, and great Turkish cuisine. What better way to experience the city and culture? It combined music and dance from all different regions of Turkey. My favorite was a quirky and funny dance from southern Turkey known as “Aşuk Maşuk,” where two men wore costumes that used the stomach as the face that depicted a boy chasing after a girl he adored. The show was well worth it, as it lasted for five hours and I enjoyed every minute of it. At the end of the show everyone in the restaurant was welcome to join the performers up on stage to dance, which of course I did. It was an unforgettable night of great Turkish delight.

Blue Mosque
On the other hand, what is Istanbul without experiencing their religious side? Turkey, particularly Istanbul, is known for their mosques. There was literally a mosque every few blocks. During prayer time a loud siren would sound over the city and their prayer would begin being said over the speaker.  To understand their religion I visited the Blue Mosque early morning of the fourth day. The Blue Mosque is a popular tourist attraction and one of the well-known mosques in Turkey. I was in awe at the great architectural beauty and intricate detail. While I was there, I was also able to travel directly across to the Hagia Sophia, once a mosque and now a museum. Lastly, the Grand Bazaar was a must for tourist. It was really close to my hotel and I was able visit it two nights I stayed, but was still unable to see it all. It has over 4,000 shops, which range from jewelry, hand-made ceramics, carpets, spices, and food. It provided me with a taste of Turkey, where there was something for everyone. Although it reminded me of New York City, I quickly realized it was far from it as everything was reasonably priced and it is considered rude not to bargain with the shop.
Hagia Sophia

Reflecting on my experience, words cannot express the amount of knowledge, tolerance, and understanding I took away from it. Just by talking with participants, I was able to learn just how different my life experiences are from theirs and how lucky I am to live the way that I do. Although I was warned beforehand that I may be looked at differently because I come from a privileged country and background, I was greeted with nothing more than warm-welcomes and acceptance.
Kathryn Kopania
Junior at Hofstra University

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Send Silence Packing

Next Thursday, May 3, as you pass through the Memorial Quad you will notice 1,100 backpacks on display. Each backpack represents the number of college student lives lost each year to suicide and is part of the Send Silence Packing program planned by Active Minds, a student club here at Hofstra, focused on mental health awareness, education and advocacy. Each backpack contains a brief personal story to put a face on the lives of those who were lost.

We hope to raise awareness and educate members of the Hofstra community about suicide and we want you to know that resources are available to you. Student volunteers and counseling staff will be on hand throughout the day and the office of Student Counseling Services is always here for you. Visit our website for more information about the program and all other services offered through our office.

Word on the Street- NYC!

I love how easy it is to get to NYC from Hofstra-- just a short shuttle bus ride, then the LIRR, and the world is at your feet to explore.  I hope that especially now as the weather is improving, you're taking full advantage and getting into the city on a regular basis.  When you go, where do you like to explore?  I could only name a few of the neighborhoods in this poll (for instance, I love the UWS), but let me know if I missed the one you like best!

My Travels to Turkey

Istanbul. It’s the New York City of Turkey. As my first trip abroad, I felt right at home in the great big overcrowded city.  But, it was far from what I was used to. There were no enormous skyscrapers but instead a beautiful view of the sea and landscape.

A shuttle bus dropped me off at conference and I did not know what to expect. As I pulled up, there was a sea of diverse women outside the building. There were around three thousand participants attending the conference, ranging from twelve to ninety years of age, from about a hundred different countries. It was a complete cultural shock. Just being surrounded by other cultures, other languages, and other ideologies really opened my eyes to the challenges of the world and the commitment to the common thread of empowering women these participants share. I was attending the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) conference from April 19-22. AWID is an international, feminist organization that is dedicated to achieving and maintaining sustainable development, gender equality, and women’s human rights. This year’s forum was aimed at exploring the impact of economic power on women and the planet by facilitating relations between diverse women, organizations, and groups working on key issues of human rights and justice. The forum was a process and had a tremendous effect for local, national, and global initiatives. Through a series of in-depth sessions, plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and artistic/cultural sessions I was able to acquire a greater understanding and knowledge of the vast opportunities and setbacks to women world-wide and the possible solutions that would strengthen the global world.

There were upwards to 18 sessions being held in one time period and it was difficult to choose between so many interesting topics. The forum really made sure to encompass all aspects of the challenges faced by women such as the environment, access to resources, religious practices, etc. The first session I attended was on unpaid care work, work that is predominately completed by women and taken for granted. The speakers provided an in-depth analysis of the negative economic implications that accompanied unpaid work. It really made me realize the benefits I am entitled too because many young girls are responsible for care work and therefore deprived of their education, being forced to drop out or take on additional work in addition to unpaid care work.

I spontaneously walked into a session on the second day called 7 Hours and 55 Minutes: Exploring money and work in sex work. The goal of the session was to unpack the myths of sex work and acknowledge it as real work women do. I really enjoyed this session because instead of showing videos or listening to intelligent, powerful women speak about the issue, the speakers took an interactive approach. They transformed their session into a game, where we as audience members where able to participate in the daily life of a sex worker.  Selected from the audience were participants who played various roles as sex workers, customers, a doctor, a social worker, a hotel owner, and other important people and professions involved in the daily interaction of sex workers. It was like a board game, where a member of the audience rolled dice; depending on the space the sex worker landed on their received a card or a customer. A customer allowed the sex worker to be paid while the cards described typical negative encounters that forced sex workers to pay. For example, one card described how it was common for brothel owners to refuse a sex worker to leave for a restroom break; as a result, the sex worker ended up with an infection and being overcharged for medication. In a funny way, it explained how sex work produced negative connotations and implications for workers. It really challenged me to rethink the word prostitution and instead envision the factors that force these women into this type of work. After the session, I had the opportunity to actually speak to a sex worker from Thailand, who was just like any other worker, such as a lawyer or entrepreneur. She explained that the lack of job opportunities did not offer her enough pay to provide for her family and she choose to go into the field that provided stability and a generous income to her and her family.

It’s so difficult to pick a favorite session or topic, as all sessions address pressing issues that must be confronted with change. I attended the very inspiring session Visioning Cultures Free of Violence. It examined the idea of culturally justified violence that intrudes on the private and public lives of women. All women experience violence differently but the common theme is the control of women’s bodies. In order to help victims of violence cope a group devised a method through digital storytelling. It started with a group of women, who were trained by professionals on how to you media to tell their story of violence. There were several videos shown, each inspiring, emotional, and touching in its own way. It was difficult to watch because there was so much pain and suffering these women encountered; but the tremendous improvement and empowerment these women made impacted the lives of thousands more women by going on to teach and train other victims.

Kathryn Kopania
Junior at Hofstra University
Check back for more about my trip to Turkey.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Body and Mind Connection Workshop

Wednesday afternoon I had the tremendous opportunity to spend some time in the Fitness Center with a dynamic group of students. Yoga instructor Elizabeth Campbell and myself set out to create a program that demonstrated the complimentary benefits of Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga. With that in mind we created our first ever Body and Mind Connection Workshop. I was delighted to see over a dozen students show up with their work out gear on and ready to get to it. It was impressive how quickly students took to the art of connecting to their breath and grounding themselves in the moment through simple meditation exercises. They asked wonderfully insightful questions and shared openly about their experiences! After about 15 minutes of mindful breathing Elizabeth took over and led the class, including myself and Student Counseling Services extern Jessica Glowacki, in a series of challenging but also relaxing yoga postures. The Balance Poses were my favorite part, especially the Tree Pose. After an hour of working on our strength and flexibility we returned briefly to a meditative exercise. We hope to do this again in May. Check the announcements section of the SCS website and other Hofstra University Social Media for upcoming information.

Dan Rinaldi PsyD

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Is In The Air!

We hope everyone had a great, relaxing and most importantly, fun, Spring Break! It's hard to believe that the semester is coming to a close, but this beautiful spring weather keeps reminding us of that fact!

The Office of Off-Campus Living and Commuting Student Services has two great events coming up that we would like to invite our commuting students to attend. On Wednesday, April 25, at 11:15am in room 221, Student Center, we will be hosting our first Transfer Round-Table Discussion Series Event, Finding Your Community. We will engage in an open discussion about what it's like to be a transfer commuting student, and how we can help new transfer students when they arrive at Hofstra.

We will also be hosting our Third Annual Pet Parade on Saturday, May 5, at noon outside of the Student Center. It's a chance for you to show off your beloved pet and have chances to win fun prizes. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and come enjoy some time outside with your furry friend! If you'd like to sign up for the Pet Parade, click here.

We also want to give a shout-out to the Greek community, and wish them the best during Greek Week!

-Anita Ellis
Director, The Office of Off Campus Living and
Commuting Student Services

Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month: How does your cultural background add to the multinational U.S. culture?

Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month: How does your cultural background add to the multinational U.S. culture?

Hofstra University embraces and honors the Asian American and Pacific Islander culture by honoring it through the annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Attending the reception for this cultural month was a great experience filled with great speakers, music, and food. It was exciting to get introduced to the new Assistant Director of the Multicultural and International Student office, Sonia Fernandez, who introduced the musical performance of law student Tole Zacharia as well as keynote speaker Dr. Takashi Kanatsu, associate professor for the political science department at Hofstra University.
What cultural roots do you add to the diverse U.S culture and how much do you know and embrace other cultures?  It is the multiculturalism that makes the U.S. so special by creating such an inspiring melting pot. Keynote speaker Dr. Takashi Kanatsu certainly added an immense amount as he is the epitome of multiculturalism. Dr. Takashi Kanatsu is a native of Japan, living in the U.S., while studying and teaching about Latin American culture. He encourages his peers to not just be bicultural, but multicultural and rather than viewing life as Asian vs. American culture or in my case European vs. American culture, we should view the world as a whole and learn about many different nations and its customs and traditions. We can all learn from each other and bring new aspects from our cultures into the U.S. culture and our own. This will not just add to the diversity in the U.S, but also develop our native culture and spread our countries’ attributes for everyone to see its greatness. Particularly in the time of the Asian rise, it is interesting to learn about Asian culture and understand that there is much more to Asian culture than Chinese Food and Sushi.

Embrace new cultures and teach about yours. There is something new to learn from everybody. The Asian Pacific Islander Month has many more exciting events to offer to give you the opportunity to start right now and learn more about different cultures other than your own and the one you live in.
A warm welcome to the new Assistant Director of the Multicultural and International Student Programs, Sonia Fernandez, a great addition to our Hofstra community. 

Greek Week: Can Castle 2012

DPhiE starting their Australian "castle"
AKPsi starting on France
SAE: representing the country of Jamaica
When I started last year at Hofstra I heard about the Greek Week Can Castle Event and had no idea what that meant and why they would build castles as part of Greek Week. However, after hearing last year what it actually was this year I knew I had to be out there to judge this year. Last night members of the Hofstra Greek community collected 12, 591 cans of food to donate to The INN. What an awesome accomplishment for the Hofstra fraternity and sorority community. Every year this Greek Week event is the largest one time donation The INN receives. This year was no different they outdid last year's collection by over 2,000 cans!! The event was exciting from beginning to end. Only three students per organization get to build the "castle" structure. They are judged on creativity, theme (Greek Week Around the World), oral presentation, and originality. Believe me there was creativity to go around. Groups integrated their country into the structure and presentation. Some were even able to connect their organization's mascot to the structure and this year's Greek Week Theme. The castles were small to large castle like to more design based and there were flags, globes, countries, monuments, skylines and more!

Delta Chi: representing the country of Portugal
AEPi: representing Israel
Students loading the INN truck after the event with the 12,591 cans!
I hope you get to join us for Greek Week events this year. The week started Tuesday with Opening Ceremonies, The Marathon, Songs of Love (co-hosted with Hofstra Hillel) and the Bowling event. There are many more events through Sunday evening when the winners will be announced after the Chariot event in the Hofstra USA parking lot. So, come out and support your friends in Greek Life or, just watch one of the most exciting week long events on campus! Hope to see you out there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Family Day

Spring Family Day: Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hey, Duders!

So, I know it's the end of the semester and you're probably way more busy with trying to email your thesis topics to your professors, organizing study groups (there's always that slacker that never shows up and makes you do all the work), nursing allergies, and everything else that fills up your schedule during the last few weeks of the spring semester, but I wanted to invite you to a truly boss event.

It's happening on Saturday, April 28, 2012 and if you haven't had an opportunity to check out and let your family know, I'm going to hit you off with the crucial the deats below.

Spring Family Day is an annual event hosted by the Office of Parent and Family Programs and an opportunity to have your parents and family members come on to campus and see our famous tulips (thousands of them) and campus in full bloom.

Did you know that a beautiful ivory-white tulip was named "Hofstra University Tulip"? On October 3, 1985, Dr. Cornelius Boertien, commissioner for the Queen of the Netherlands to the Province of Zeeland, formally designated and presented to Hofstra the first bulbs of this flower hybrid named for the University.

Okay, enough with the history lesson, you probably get plenty of that with Professor SnooZZzzz anyway, amirite?

In addition to the Arboretum Tour given by Director of the Grounds Fred Soviero, events include an Academic and Career Planning session with Advisement Dean Mongillo and Executive Director of The Career Center Fred Burke. You'll be able to check your stats to see if you're on track toward graduation and what necessary steps you must take to secure an internship and a real world job, if you haven't already, smarty pants.

After a scrumptious lunch at the U. Club (you fancy, huh!), your Spring Family Day program/name tag is your ticket into the Spring Dance Concert by the students of the Department of Drama and Dance. If Dad starts getting footsy in his seat and looks like he's going to jump up on stage and do his thing, just tell him to "simmah down, now"--Are you too young for that? You might be.

Want a good tip? For you resident students, this event is also a great opportunity to get your folks to pack their minivan with all your bulky winter clothing. You know all those awesome ski pants and snow boots you never got to wear because New York this winter felt like California? Well, they can take all that stuff home with them and leave you with some killer spring pastels and madras, and BOOM, you're money, honey.

Hungry Hungry HofBRAHs: I know your meal points are dwindling down to just enough for a few chicken wraps and maybe one of those rather convenient hummus cups. So, you might want ask Mom to put her BJ's premier pass to good use and get you super sized Cup of Noodles and Easy Mac trays to stick under your raised bed for when your stomach is roaring with PRIDE. Do me a favor and also put in a word for me. Tell her to bring a tray of baked ziti, like Vinnie's ma, for me at the registration table when she comes up. I like ziti extra crispy on the sides. I'll be at Spring Family Day all day Saturday, April 28, 2012 rocking my gold name tag, so you'll know who I am. I just might have glasses on too-- we'll see if I'm feeling nerdy that day.


The fee is only $10 per guest; Hofstra students are free.

METS FANS (YANK FANS: don't playa hate):

In addition, Spring Family Day registrants may participate in all events of The 50th Anniversary of the New York Mets conference free of charge, excluding the VIP Reception (BALLER!), Banquet and meals.

See you with my ziti,

Mary Coleman,
Assistant Director of the Office of Parent and Family Programs

Word on the Street- Spring!

Spring is on full bloom on campus! This is one of the prettiest times of year to be at Hofstra- even if your allergies are also in full bloom like mine are. Despite my watering eyes, I just can't resist walking around to see the tulips, or to grab a quick lunch on a bench. Where is your favorite place to enjoy the spring at Hofstra?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Fever!

It's clear to see that spring is now in full bloom all over campus. The Hofstra tulips are back, and the campus is buzzing with sunshine and warmer weather.

I don't know about all of you, but I'm already dreaming of summer -- sunshine, the beach, picnics, watermelon, swimming....

BUT WAIT! We still have to make it through almost 5 more weeks of classes and finals?!? How are we going to make it?

As a student myself who's graduating this May, I find myself wondering how I will keep up my motivation when everyone around me seems to have a bad case of "senioritis" -- even those who AREN'T graduating this May! It's hard to come back after a week of rest and relaxation to a ton of work that still needs to be done, but here are some tips to help you finish off the semester strong:

1. As much as you want to, don't procrastinate! It's really easy to start procrastinating all of the assignments and studying you need to do after the break, but putting things off is only going to make it harder on you in the long run. Break down your assignments and studying into smaller tasks, and cross them off your list one day at a time.

2. Schedule in some fun time. It's easy to feel dragged down by all that's left to do and to feel like you should hide away in your room until everything is finished. But for your own sanity and mental health, it's important to schedule in some fun time. Check out your RA's programs, join a Relay for Life team, or go with some friends to Music Fest. There are still plenty of fun events going on in April and May - make sure you check them out and give yourself a break!

3. Start planning for summer now. It's easy to get so caught up in what you need to do today that you forget to plan for the coming months ahead, but now is the time to plan for your summer months. Need a summer job? Check out the job postings at Pride CMS (through My Apps on the Hofstra portal) and make an appointment with the Career Center. Do you live on campus? Now is the time to figure out when you'll need to move out of your residence hall. Check your final exam schedule and look for flyers with more information on check-outs around your residence hall.

Though it may seem like a lifetime from now, these next 5 weeks will fly by, so take advantage of the time you have to study hard, prepare for finals, and enjoy some down time with your friends. Summer will be here soon enough!

~Stacie Mitchell, Assistant Resident Director, Colonial Square

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alternative Spring Break - Day 4

Day 4

Early in the morning we awoke with a taste of excitement, anticipation and the heat from our sun burns burning our skin and headed over to the house, much to the surprise of our construction host, Ozzy. We got there and were hard at work within minutes; we’ve become so accustomed to our El Paso schedule that we don’t waste any time. All day we painted, re-painted and touched up. The boys worked on texturing the ceiling and we all, yet again, somehow managed to get paint absolutely everywhere. After work we quickly cleaned up and headed over to see downtown El Paso. The city area was a few streets lined with cheap clothing and knick-knack stores. We strolled the streets and ate a few authentic Mexican churros, before agreeing to venture to a Texas souvenir store on the other side of town. Unfortunately, after a long drive, numerous u-turns and countless misunderstood directions, we gave up on the souvenir store and decided we’d be more successful just heading to dinner. So, heads up, we might not have an abundance of souvenirs in case any parents/siblings/friends are reading this. We headed to a local Texas steakhouse and indulged for one of our last nights in Texas. We overloaded on delicious food and struggled returning to our home base, knowing that once we were back we would have to face one of our last reflection sections. On our way home we went to Target and tried to come to an agreement on what would be the perfect last gift for the host family. We decided to purchase some small gifts for the family and also plan on picking up a porch swing for the family’s backyard. After returning to the church we somberly gathered for what was definitely our most thought provoking discussion. Terry shared with us the fact that when we surprised Ozzy this morning he actually teared up because he had expected to be working on the house all day by himself while we enjoyed our day off. We also reflected on how much we knew about each other and how different we all are. It’s absolutely incredible to see such unique individuals become so united over a common goal. I couldn’t be prouder of our group and everything we have accomplished.

Over the past few days we’ve lost faith in the GPS, bonded with each other in ways we didn’t even realize, and have done something that many people don’t have the opportunity to do. I would say that building this house has forever changed the life of one family, but in all honesty I think this trip has changed each and every one of our lives in ways we cannot even comprehend. To think that in a little over twenty-four hours we will be leaving such a beautifully cultured part of the world and leaving behind an almost finished house is absolutely heart-breaking. However, leaving knowing that we have impacted so many people, the community of El Paso, and the fact that we will be able to bring back all of our experiences and memories is comforting. I know, personally, this experience was not about building a house or taking a spring break trip to El Paso. It was about bettering myself and making an impact on something much bigger than myself and honestly, I think we all individually have been pretty successful. I cannot imagine anywhere I would rather be with any different group of people. It truly has been an honor.

- Zoe Hoffmann, Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Student Coordinator

Thursday, April 12, 2012

RA of the Month winners for March!

Residential Programs would like to congratulate our “RA of the Month” winners for the month of March. The resident directors nominate their outstanding staff members each month in recognition of their hard work and “above and beyond” characteristics. In March, the Colonial Square staff swept the floor of the competition, and here are the winners...

RA of the Month: Christina Williams

Christina is a third year RA. She is a senior television/video major and is the RA in Qunicy House. Christina is truly loved by her staff. She has a big heart and is willing to support her fellow RAs even with her busy senior schedule. Whether it is going out to dinner with them, driving them to Pathmark for a program, or giving sound advice, she offers up help when needed. Christina has handled a few tough roommate concerns this semester, and she has personally reached out to students in need, and made them feel supported and cared for. Christina’s supervisors describe her as trustworthy, communicable, and resourceful. Thanks for the hard work, Christina!

Program of the Month: Sex and Sundaes by Jerome Bailey and Natalia Alvarez-Plaud

Students were lining up outside of Hampton House to come inside to attend this program. What made this program so successful was the collaboration between Jerome, Natalia and Robin Rivera from the Wellness Center. Robin created a great icebreaker that got all of the students on their feet and involved. After that, there was a very successful and student involved conversation about the consequences of not having safe sex and options that you can do to be safer. Throughout the whole program, students were very responsive, active and involved with the conversation. This program helped not only educate the students about sex and the dangers students need to be aware of, but it also created a sense a community that students do not always feel due to being so independent all the time. Great collaboration Jerome and Natalia!

Check back here next month to learn about our April winners!

Becky Christiansen

Residential Programs.

Alternative Spring Break- Day 3

Day 3:
Of all the places we could eat at while here in El Paso we had to make sure to have authentic Mexican food! Tonight we ate at Kiki’s Mexican Restaurant and it was by far the best Mexican food any of us has ever eaten. The tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, beans, rice, quesadillas, carne asada, nachos, and guacamole were all exactly what we needed after the most intense day of work thus far. No one left that restaurant hungry! The food in El Paso just keeps getting better and better.
So what did we do today? We worked from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm with only a half hour break for lunch because we are all on a mission to complete our home by the end of our week here in El Paso. Today we painted the second coat on the entire inside of the home as well as finished all of the ceiling sheet rock. Outside we scraped off all the chipping paint, replaced damaged moldings, caulked any cracks, and painted over half of the home. It proved to be the hardest day yet, but also the most inspiring because we also met the family we have been volunteering our time to build a home for. In order to be selected to have a home built by Habitat, the family must agree to volunteer upwards to 200 – 250 hours to help build their home. For a few hours we worked side by side with the mother and her three girls
to help give this family a better life. Seeing the smiles on their faces was all we needed to continue working as hard as we could. By the end of the day we were exhausted, but not one person would say they minded.

During reflection that evening we were discussing what we were going to do on our day off on Thursday, but everyone knew what we had to do. We couldn’t take a break now, we had to keep going! So tomorrow instead of further exploring El Paso, we are going back to the home and continuing to work to give this family something every single person deserves; a decent home to live in.
- Ashley Gray, Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Activities

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Staycation: Alternative Spring Break 2012, Long Island

Getting ready to start our day inside the Habitat House!
Brittany, Kimberly and Lauren learning from Tom
Day one of Staycation Alternative Spring Break was a hit! It was freezing and rainy but, we helped build a house...what could be better than that! At 8:15am when we gathered to leave campus it was drizzling rain and 50 degrees but, we got moving early and kept it going straight through until 3pm. We learned a lot about each other before we even got to the site (e.g. Brittany is a cat whisperer and we had three students who were born outside of the United States and several who could speak more than one language!) The student participants were from various parts of the globe and the country and spent a lot of the day while working getting to know each other!
We got a small break to gather at 12pm and talk with other Habitat "regulars" about their experience and eat lunch (provided by the Girl Scouts), and finally the sun started to peek out. Out of the twelve students attending and two advisers only one adviser, Pat "Boom" Montagano, had experience volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. So, this was a learning experience for all. Students were able to use tools they've never used, set up scaffolding, hammer siding on to a wall and work together as a team with students they've just met for the first time to accomplish a lot on this awesome three bedroom home in New Cassel. 
While we were there a news crew came to do a story on the great work that the weekly volunteers and staff do at Habitat to build houses such as this. It was great to see the coverage of such an important contribution these men and women (and other groups like ours) make in our community!
It was a powerful experience because while we were there we learned about the family the house was being built for, ourselves, the team work that could be accomplished not only working with each other but, following directions and working with the volunteers who serve weekly at the house. This is the first day of a three day Staycation Alternative Spring Break. We loved working in the Long Island community and are looking forward to working at the INN tomorrow and the Animal Shelter on Friday. Read more this week from our student participants about their experience!

Enjoying the moment of sun and our day of building at Habitat Nassau County!

Alternative Spring Break- Day 2

Day 1: Continued
So the census is in and everyone is a fan of Texas BBQ! We ordered ribs, chicken, brisket... we got it all 
and none of it disappointed! After dinner we had our first reflection session of the trip and it was great to open up and listen to the viewpoints of others. It is amazing how a group of 14 can all have the same experience but gain different insights and I love that we have the opportunity at the end of each day to share those insights with the group.

Day 2:
We went back to the home we were working on the first day and continued to finish the landscaping and the painting. We also worked on putting the doors back on the hinges and putting up ceiling sheet rock. The second day proved to be harder than the first, since we were already sore from the first day, but I am proud to say we have an incredible team and we never stop working. We are all dedicated to giving this family a home they can be proud of. One of the neighbors today stopped by to see what we were up to. When we explained what we were doing and that we were working with Habitat for Humanity they complimented us on our work ethic and even told us that now they felt embarrassed by their own yards! It was nice to know that the community is appreciative of the work we are doing. By the end of the day we had the entire inside of the house painted (thanks to our fantastic all-female paint crew) and the landscaping complete! Tomorrow we are going to be working on painting the outside of the house. While it is going to be hot, everyone is also excited about working on their tan.

After the day’s work we came back, cleaned up and made dinner for ourselves. What was on the menu you ask? Tacos, quesadillas, and hotdogs! It was great to cook and eat together as a team. After dinner, we made our way up the perfectly named Scenic Drive to the very top of one of the mountains here in El Paso. Up there we could see for miles and miles all of El Paso and even over into Mexico. It was breath taking to say the least and we all just stood there and gazed in awe at the sea of lights below us. Most of us thought El Paso was going to be a small city in the dessert with not a whole lot to offer, but we are quickly learning how wrong we were. It is much larger than we anticipated and being on top of that mountain tonight only further proved our initials thoughts ignorant. We held our reflection session on the mountain and then went back home to rest before we have to get up early again to do more work! Tomorrow we are going out for authentic Mexican food! We are all anticipating great tacos and enchiladas!

- Ashley Gray, Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Activities