SCOC: The Co-Chairs Reflect on the Trip

While hopefully the blog posts over the past week have given you insight into the group’s work in Long Island, what these posts cannot possibly convey is all the hard work put into the trip over the past year. Much of that work fell to Clare and Nick, the co-chairs of SCOC. Today, we hear from Nick and Clare:

Nick and Clare overlooking ocean.


What an amazing, fulfilling, and successful week! I cannot help but feel like the most fortunate person in the world to have been able to lead such an outstanding group of individuals in service to such an incredible community. I am proud of this group for their hard work, commitment, and adaptability, but most of all I am proud of their open mindedness and their ability to connect with a community that they themselves were strangers to. In one short week, an immaculate bond was formed between our group and the people of Long Island, and this bond has pushed each and everyone one of us to reflect and grow. We are all safe back in Springfield now, but the journey that began when we touched down in Long Island continues. The challenge now is how to apply what we have learned from this experience to our everyday lives. James Keller once said that a candle loses nothing by lightning another candle. I think that I speak for everyone in the group when I say that my experience in Long Island has lit my candle brighter than ever before and I feel more motivated than ever to go out and to let that light shine.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Charlene Elvers, Erin Placey, and David McMahon for their support as our advisors this week and throughout the year. The trip would not have been nearly as successful without their guidance. I would also like to thank President Cooper, Aramark, and Student Activities for their support of our efforts throughout the year to fund-raise and make this trip as great as it can be.  It has been a great year, and an incredible week, and I could not be more thankful.

SCOC's final performance at Beulah Union Baptist Church
SCOC’s final performance at Beulah Union Baptist Church
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SCOC Day Seven: A Full Day & Full Hearts

Friday was a busy day, which began at dawn and went late into the night. Much work was accomplished, much beauty experienced, from nature and our new friends, and, though sad to leave, we celebrated.

Emotions ran high today. Last day here and we had a jam-packed 13 hours starting early painting the buildings of Glintons Primary School (I’d like to mention the paint was WATER-BASED!). The second half of the day I got to switch gears and spent time with the kids. Erin, Maggie and I kept them entertained with various games, but they wanted “froggy” cheer. So we gave them “froggy” cheer and we “peeled banana”, “chopped tomato”, “sliced the mango”, etc. So much energy and enthusiasm from such small kids!

Tyrone and Anthony took us to one of the most beautiful beaches to cool off and unwind before the night’s closing talent show which, of course, was amazing. The talent on this island is extraordinary, from the schools to dancing to singing. It’s passion, in the purest possible way. In SCOC fashion we pulled off the greatest performance of “Lean on Me” as well as a poem to attempt to display our gratitude to the Beulah community, if that’s even possible.
So to close out the night, they took us to a cave party. I played the saw with the band. How? How do they continue to top themselves? This is what it means to be generous.
I’m not leaving. I refuse. Therefore I have made the decision to stay. I choose to stay with this Bahamian state of mind. The state of mind that for every one kind thing that you do, the receipent does one-hundred more. Thank you Long Island, you are without a doubt THE, I repeat, THE best island.

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Together Campaign Day 7: Completion of Service at Santa Maria de Jesus and Our Final Day in Antigua


Buenos Noches–

Bittersweet goodbyes today as we wrapped our service at Escuela San Maria de Jesus.  Everyone was extremely impressed with the fast pace of the group’s work ethic and we were satisfied because it allowed us to complete more service for the children. Today we focused on completing the painting of the outside of the school and painting a mural for the children. Adam, Ryan, Josh, and Jacob spoke about spoke about their experiences this week and described the impact of their service:


 It is the last night of the trip, and the first post from los chicos (the guys).

The week as a whole has been an experience to remember.  The 12 students and 2 advisers have truly bonded and become friends, and we all agree that leaving Antigua and returning to SC is going to be a challenge.  A lot of the cultural experiences that we have encountered while in Guatemala have helped shape our perceptions of American values and culture providing us with insight of that we can incorporate into our own lives upon our return back to the states. A better understanding of what a sense of community entails as well as grasping the importance of family is a huge portion of what we will take home. The people of Guatemala have displayed a great desire and sense of passion to the dedication of improving the country of Guatemala as a whole.

Extreme amounts of positive growth in the individuals on this trip have also taken place this week. At the start of the week, there were a mix of grades, service experience, and even friendship amongst us.  Now as the last night of the trip comes to a close, everyone on the trip has let their own light shine.  Everyone has brought such a unique dimension to the trip, that when combined, it has allowed for such a successful experience.  There was not one person that did not grow as an individual.  It has been an honor for us guys to host group discussions and bonding in The Must (the nickname for our room).  We will cherish the friendships that have been made on this trip and alas we must leave the sun and beautiful weather to return to the cold weather of New England.

Adios Muchachos!

Los Chicos: Ryan Semke, Adam Ziewacz, Jake Simons, and Josh Swain

As described by the boys above, this trip has made an impact on everyone in many different ways and has become a model of Springfield College’s philosophy of dedication of service to humanity.

During today’s service we were surprised by a thank you ceremony from Corazones de Los Ninos and the administrators, teachers, and students of Santa Maria de Jesus. We all were in awe and felt honored to be working with such a great community of people. We then IMG_4069IMG_4063spent our evening fiesta-ing with our host family, administrators from La Union, Corazones de Los Ninos and others who helped put the projects together. We had another incredibly delicious homemade Guatemalan dinner which was then followed by dancing, group recognition, and awards. It was a fantastic way to spend our last night in Guatemala.

Tomorrow we will be traveling back to the States to make our journey home. Stay posted for final reports of the 2013-2014 ASB trip to Guatemala.

Buenos Noches–






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Together Campaign Day 6: Vegetable distribution and Home Visits to San Miguel Duenas

Hola from Antigua,photo 2(6)

Distributing vegetables to the people of San Miguel Duenas, our group spent the morning breaking down cultural barriers and building relationships with the people of San Miguel Duenas. Today was very successful. At Reflections tonight, everyone agreed that we accomplished our goal, made a positive impact on the community we were serving, and grew as individuals ourselves. We spent both the morning and afternoon at the same service site but in the afternoon we focused our service towards cleaning the community. All of the kids and adults of San Miguel Duenas were eager to help us clean up the area and that made the experience even more rewarding.

A few treasured moments were shared today between different group members and the people of Guatemala. I delivered vegetables to a family of 6 which included a mother with four daughters and one son. During the time when I visited, only three of the daughters were present with the mother. There house was made out of tin and their floors were dirt. The girls were eager to interact with me and although our conversations were limited–we found other ways to communicate. The mother mentioned how no father was around to help with the children and that they did not go to school. The older daughter was excited that I spoke English and urged me to teach her. As I spoke, she wrote. We smiled and laughed and for a moment it seemed as if all cultural differences, distance, and society disappeared. We could just be people. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of this trip for me.

SC Freshman Kayla comments about her experience thus far in Guatemala:

Today has been one of my favorite days in Guatemala. I say this basically every day but it’s because every day just keeps getting better. Today we gave out vegetables in San Miguel Duenas and it was beyond my expectations. The bag of vegetables we gave out to every family simply included 2 carrots, cauliflower, 2 beats, and a cucumber. It shocks me IMG_3247that this small portion of vegetables is given out once a month and usually requires a family member to walk a long distance to obtain it. Bringing the vegetables to the doors of families was absolutely incredible. The homes of these people were extremely run down and yet they were so happy and patient with our poor Spanish.

After delivering vegetables, we went to the doors of the families and introduced ourselves. They let us into their homes without hesitation and told us about themselves. When we entered the house of a 73 year old woman who was very frail, she immediately demanded her granddaughter get us chairs to sit on. She told us of her exhaustion and illnesses and yet was so selfless that she told us she would pray for us who have everything rather than herself who has nothing. I feel that I have experienced every emotion possible. The people here in Guatemala are happy–I am happy, but what makes me sad is that the United States is so different. My sadness and anger are because of the greed of Americans. The people here in Guatemala are suffering from disabilities and diseases and are still inspiring, while we are sitting in our cozy homes in the United States complaining over the common cold. I know not all Americans are fortunate but based on personal experience; my eyes were/are widened. I am excited to return to the United States and speak of my experience but I am also anxious to see things so differently now. I am overwhelphoto 1(6)med with excitement and passion. Thank you, Guatemala.


Dani and Courtney had another experience that proved to be both eye opening and rewarding. They visited a house of five which included a grandmother, mother, two daughters, and one son. Dani described how the daughter had leukemia and was receiving chemotherapy twice a month. The cost per each session was $800 Q (a little over a 100.00 US dollars).  Dani and Courtney mentioned how there were complications that had caused an infection in her leg which seemed to worry the family adding stress to the already impending medical costs. The price of the chemotherapy and the antibiotics kept the family working full time and even then they were barely making enough to survive. Moved by this experience, Dani and Courtney donated a $108 Quetzals towards the daughter’s illness. Dani and Courtney did not know what to expect when handing the money to the daughter explaining, “this is for chemotherapy”. Immediately the daughter thanked them and handed the money to the mother who broke into tears. Continually blessing both Courtney and Dani, the mother expressed how the donation would help them to continue to provide health care for their daughter. Dani described how she was in awe exclaiming, ” I did not know what to say when the mother started crying so we just hugged her for a while”. Dani continued to describe her encounter with the family explaining to all of us that seeing the mother cry over $15.00 US dollars seemed to really put life in perspective.

Everyone seemed to share different experiences with the families today and everyone from SC seemed to grow individually. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s final day of service where we will be traveling back to Escuela Santa Maria de Jesus to paint a mural and to continue painting the school for the kids. As our days in Guatemala  begin to wind down- we reflect on our experiences, growth, understanding of privilege, and each others culture. We all are excited to be back with the children of Santa Maria de Jesus and look forward to reporting back to you all.

Buenos Noches–



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SCOC Day 7: A Big Day Indeed

Thursday11We’re up early for our final full day on Long Island. Last night, after working at Salem Baptist Church and Mission House and our tour of French Harbor, we had a wonderful dinner with our guides, Tyrone and Jeffrey. At dinner, we were joined by a representative of the Bahamian National Baptist Association, who had made a special trip to Long Island from Nassau in order to thank us for our work.

Today will be a full day indeed. Jeffrey is picking us up at 7:00 AM. We travel back to Glintons Primary School, which we first visited on Tuesday, to paint. After that, our hosts plan on giving us a tour of the northernmost and historic part of the island.

Tonight should be exciting. Beulah is hosting a talent competition in the church and expectations are high. The SCOC team was up late practicing. Then we’ll close out the day and night with a going away party in Stella Maris. It will be a long day to close out what has been too short a week.

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SCOC Day 6, Part 2: Salem Baptist and French Harbor

Thursday7  Veronica:

Hey, everyone! Today was a long but awesome day. Jeffery brought us to his church, Salem Baptist, where we renovated the church as well as the mission house across the street. We worked hard sanding, scraping, and  painting from 10-4. For lunch, Jeffery made us tuna and corned beef sandwiches as well as fresh bananas  he picked. After working we went to the French Harbor to climb the cliffs and swim and the views were absolutely breathtaking. It was a day filled with beauty, hard work, and a lot of laughs and I definitely won’t be forgetting it any time soon.

I love Long Island, Bahamas. Every day has been full of laughter, connection, interaction, love, beauty and hard work. Today we worked to paint a church and a mission house at Salem Baptist church and we were lucky enough to go to the French harbor. The water was clear blue/aqua and the view was amazing. We tried sugar cane straight off of the tree and enjoyed dinner with Jeffrey and Tyrone. I feel so blessed and lucky to have been a part of this trip. The people here are so friendly and genuine, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Words can’t describe how much I have learned or how grateful I am to have been a part of SCOC with this amazing group of friends. See ya!

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Together Campaign Day 5: More Painting and Our Visit to Azotea Coffee Plantation

Hola froSC Together Campaign ASB standing outside La Union Schoolm Guatemala-

Today was quite a productive service day for SC students as we spent our morning painting at Corazones de Los Ninos. Our guide Julio and the coordinators of the trip commented on how quickly we worked completed our projects thus far and offered us the opportunity to paint even more then was planned at the school in Santa Maria de Jesus on Friday– we were all extremely excited to add this opportunity to our itinerary!

For the afternoon, we explored the Azotea Coffee Plantation located in Antigua. After a tour of the Mayan culture and history, we learned about the production of coffee. We were all really impressed by this cultural experience and learned a lot about Guatemalan Coffee production. After the completion of the tours, we walked through the photo 1(5)plantation. It was absolutely beautiful and comparable to an island oasis. Upon our arrival back to the main buildings we enjoyed some fresh cafe and continued to develop our group bonding.

Once arriving back to our Host family, we enjoyed a nice dinner and then continued on to our nightly reflection.

Tonight’s topic focused on bringing our service with the youth back to Springfield and the whole group seemed to be quite excited. We shared different events that will be occurring during the remainder of this semester where we could volunteer our time and continue to pursue the work that we are doing here in Guatemala but in our home town, Springfield. Some of the different service opportunities included, volunteering for the Special Olympics, working with the children from Square One, volunteering downtown at Friends of the Homeless as well as Loaves and Fishes, and volunteering at the after school program that takes place at East Campus.  We all agreed that thus far this trip has not only been a culturally eye opening experience but also an experience that has provided us the opportunity to take part in different types of service in the beautiful Country of Guatemala. Some students have even spoken about returning here to complete more service with the youth and communities of Guatemala.IMG_3298

Tomorrow’s agenda is quite intriguing and includes a service project at Recrea en San Miguel Duenas where we will be completing home visits and vegetable distribution.  The vegetables that we will be distributing are a part of our donation included in our trip package from Cultural Embrace. In the afternoon we will be returning to our service location to take part in clean up throughout the community of Recrea en San Miguel Duenas.

From all of us here in Antigua– we send you some of our 80 degree weather.

Buenos Noches


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