Together Campaign – Love Has No Color


This has been the most exhausting week of my life, however the most amazing. I will start off by saying how thankful I am to have experienced this with 12 of Springfield College’s most incredible humans as well as those we met along the way. Especially after yesterday’s endeavors, it’s challenging for me to put this week into words; I’ve been staring at this document for quite some time now, thoughts and emotions flooding through my brain, too worthy for the English language to describe. This week we learned that Guatemala is the 3rd happiest country in the world – this became reality to us all in the San Miguel Dueñas community yesterday. Our mission was to clean up trash throughout the community and hand out vegetables to the families. Their mission, was, to help us. Children whom I connected on a deeper level with right away were eager to travel around the community with us, hold our bags and deliver the vegetables. After every house, the little girl who would not let go of my hand would look up at me and say, “¿Puedamos jugar ahora?” (Can we play now?) Once the vegetables were finally distributed, she took me back to her house where all of her siblings and her parents were. We played a game of soccer out in the street, they helped me with my Spanish along the way. What I noticed most about this family was how happy they were. I had seen their house; it was nothing a picture could do justice. The way they live is a complete 180 from the way most of us are fortunate enough to live in America. Despite it all, I never saw a smile leave their faces. The parents and I communicated as well as we could, they were interested about me and why I was there. They sat down to watch the game of soccer, mesmerized by their children having so much fun. The kids were in heaven, and I had never been so touched by a child ever in my life thus far. It’s indescribable, their body language and emotions that they put into spending time with me yesterday. I will never forget their faces and the time we shared together. I only hope that I am fortunate enough to return to this community to visit them, to help them. This entire week has been life-changing, from the connections we built, the things that we saw, the people we met, and the lives that we changed. I am so grateful for this experience and I’m proud to say that I’m hungry for more – to give a hand, to hug, to help. “Do what you can with what you have and where you are.”

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Kendall Krafick

Indescribably amazing. That is how I feel about the experiences I have had during my time in Guatemala. Yesterday could not have been a better day to finish up our service. We started off our final day back at the same house that we laid cement inon Wednesday, except yesterday it went even more smoothly. We knew exactly what to do and became a well-oiled machine in the matter of minutes. We worked so effectively that the concrete was done in no time at all. Knowing that we were able to increase the quality of this family’s home in two areas was so rewarding and being able to see what we finished on Wednesday left us all with an even greater feeling. To see how helpful the family was to get the cement finished by already disassembling their home and carrying gallons of water up was so moving. It truly demonstrated how the power of helping others is shown through both compassion and teamwork. Oddly enough, after another long strenuous day, I felt refreshed and even more motivated. We left the family’s home seeing nothing but smiles and feeling love and happiness fill the air. We then went to La Corazon de Los Niños where children from Santa Maria de Jesus school prepared an exhibition for us to demonstrate their culture. They performed a beautiful routine and their families were there selling many unique hand-made items. We then broke out into a dance party, or should I say fiesta. A beautiful girl named Rose immediately grabbed my hand to dance with me. We twirled, laughed, and mimicked each other’s dance moves. When it was time for us to leave, it was so hard to say our final goodbyes to the children. We stood there hugging each other for at least five minutes. Tears filled my eyes as she asked when we would return. I told her I would see her soon. In that moment I realized why I am on this trip.

I have made so many indescribable connections with people who I have met and with the people I have traveled here with. I am beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to complete this week with some of the most intelligent, kind-hearted, and hardworking individuals. It would not have been the same without any of them. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has loved and supported me as well as for every experience that has shaped me into the woman I am today, especially those experiences I have gained this past week. Although I wish I could stay here forever, I know I will return one day. As I prepare to hop on an airplane and wave goodbye to the beautiful place I have been able to call my temporary home, I will wave goodbye with a smile. I will never forget the amazing people I have met, the indescribable experiences, and the life changing lessons I have gained.

“The best way to find yourself is to lost yourself in service to others.” Mahatma Gandhi

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Nicole Rigby

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Together Campaign: Thursday – Exploring San Miguel Duenas

Today is the perfect example of why I wanted to be apart of Together Campaign and come to Guatemala. I wanted to give back to others in a way that only this program can give me. I want to give families and children the reason to hope and believe. Today, I can say I achieved that and so much more than I could have expected. After delivering vegetables to the families of San Miguel Duenes we were able to spend time with the children and play with them. That’s where I met this boy named Miguel. Full of energy and life, we interacted and had an instant connection. About 15 minutes before we left, he took my phone and said “hermano foto!” Hearing him say this, it made it so much harder to leave. Believe what you want, but in the 35 minutes we were together, he was my little brother. And that is how I will always remember him.

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Jack Portlock

Today has left me absolutely speechless. We started our day off cleaning up garbage in a small city outside of Antigua and ended it delivering vegetables to the families and playing with the kids in a dirt lot. I never knew how much of a connection I could make with people in less than 6 hours. The most rewarding feeling was seeing all of the smiles on the kids faces when we handed out various toys, such as soccer balls, tennis balls, coloring books, and dolls. It’s crazy how something so small can mean so much to someone else. Even more so, seeing them so happy to play with us and talk to us was such a great feeling. Leaving the service project today was extremely hard. After spending an entire afternoon playing with the kids and talking with different families, it was hard to leave, knowing that we weren’t going to have another chance to see them this week. After reflecting with our group on the amazing and emotional day we have had, there have been many lessons I have taken from my time in here Guatemala. The most important lesson I have learned is to always find happiness even in the worst of times. As I wish my time here in Guatemala could be longer, I know that I am going to go back home with a new perspective on life. As much as I hope I have impacted people here in Guatemala, they have impacted me so much more and I am beyond thankful that I got to participate in the amazing opportunity.

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Nicole Rigby

I’m so grateful and emotional after today. We cleaned up a local village from the mounds of trash that piled high between each house. We were told to be cautious of what we are picking up, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it. Bones of skulls from a dog, diapers, and so many more unquestionable items. However, after we cleaned up as much as we could the village looked perfect. We returned this afternoon to delivery vegetables to the families, although it was difficult at times to communicate it was clear to see that they were so deeply grateful for our help. One women repeatedly said “I thank god for your help, I thank god.” This made us all realize how in need these selected families were even just for fresh food.

Then came time to play with kids. It was amazing. The first family I delivered food to the one I connected with instantly. One mom, three kids. Living in a two room house, only two beds and one stove. It’s so hard to imagine how they live. When I used to go camping my living arrangements were better than the way they live their every day life. Seeing their homes with dirt floors, walls made up of sticks tied together and a roof of tin shingles really makes your heart sink.

Not only was I touched by the families happiness, but by this one 12 year old girl, Wendy. She played with me the entire time. She also understood that I only knew a little Spanish so she made sure she talked slowly and with words I would understand. This 12 year old girl was like a mother to her younger siblings. She stood up for them, cared for them, and helped the mom with the chores. The entire time she was clung to my hip. If I would compliment her she would complement me right back. As everyone was hanging out she decided to play with my hair (she was really talented at braiding) and after all the affection she gave towards me I decided to give her the American flag bandana I had in my backpack, so she can always remember me. When it came time to say goodbye we both were in tears. She sat in my lap and hugged me so tight  and stayed there for a few minutes. She took off her necklace and put it in my hand closing my hand afterwords. I told her I couldn’t accept it and she took it out of my hand and then tied it around my neck. She then proceeded to tell me, still in tears, to never lose it so I can always remember her. She hugged me tighter and told me she loved me. This is when my heart broke. I knew this girl for two hours, and she took off the only necklace she owned and gave it to me. The necklace is like one of the “best friends” hearts that are broken down the middle but instead it says love. I have no clue if there is another half to this necklace, who has that half if so, what the sentimental value is behind this necklace… But the fact that this girl took something so meaningful to her and gave it to me was a beautiful moment. I will wear this necklace forever. There’s a story behind it, and once it was given to me a new story started. I will always remember the way Wendy looked up to me and the way that she impacted my life. This broken half of the heart that says love, fills my heart more than anyone can ever imagine and is the perfect symbolical meaning towards the love that was created in that short amount of time.

It took a while for us to say goodbye and we were both saying that we will be lifelong friends and that we’ll always remember each other.  Our final goodbye hug was so hard to pull away, but she kissed the necklace and told me “esta bien”, which means “it’s okay.” As the bus drove away and most of us are crying, I look back and see Wendy crying into the bandana I gave her.

This moment of crying because of a connection made with a 12 year old girl that I will probably never see again is when reality sunk in. All of those kids attached to us. They admire us and look up to us. We were only there for one short day helping their village and getting a taste of how they live. One day for us, but their entire lives for them. Seeing those living conditions makes me realize that I am forever grateful for where I come from and the opportunities I have. Today was the day that gave me a new perspective on life and the way I live and for that I am internally grateful. I will talk about this day for the rest of my life, but no matter how many times I tell the story or how many ways I tell this story, no words will ever come close to summing up this experience.

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Ciara McCready

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Together Campaign: Concrete Happiness

First in malnutrition mortality in the world.  Yet, the third happiest country.

As we sat in and listened to our history teacher, Juan Carlos, the first question he asked us was why we are here…?  There was a moment of silence between all of us and it really made us think.   We responded with, “to gain a new perspective,” and “to understand.” But why? Why are we really helping the .000001% of Guatemala? Are we really helping the country? No, we are not.  For as long as we live, we would never be able to FIX a country. But we sure can show the rest of the world that there are good people. Actually, great people. And if we have the opportunity to show that, then the people who want “to understand,” and “gain a new perspective,” will spread the greatness we all possess.

Today our bodies were really put to the test by putting in concrete.  When we arrived at the family’s house, we were greeted by hugs and smiles.  The mother took us to the back where she lived.  They lived in nothing bigger than your typical average household kitchen.  The shack they lived in was covered by metal sheets. The sides were as well.  The family looked happy as could be and very thankful for our help with their soon to be, new kitchen.  But why did they look so happy?   What is it about this lifestyle that is so great?  In the eyes of myself, it’s not livable.  I couldn’t figure this out and it haunted me for the rest of our time at their house.

The labor we were doing was exhausting, but I had the urge to keep pushing forward.  The pile of rocks was slowly dwindling and the closer I got, the faster I went.  I shoveled with frustration.  Every scoop was not only making me more tired, but it kept reminding me of every complaint or excuse I had about mowing the lawn, taking the garbage out or simply putting my dishes away.  Yet here are kids in Guatemala who start helping support the family at the age of 5.  They help support by carrying heavy jugs of water, food or any other necessary products, on their backs, resulting in a below average height  for all citizens.  And here I am, standing 6’1, living a great life, that I sometimes may take for granted.  They don’t have much to take for granted at all.  It’s unreal to me how they live and how they dedicate themselves every day to the simplest of things like water, food, etc.  And on top of it all they are happy.  That was a complete mystery to me until tonight when I finally came to the realization that I need to accept that their might never be an answer to why they are happy.  We simply just don’t know  and that is OK.

What makes me the happiest on this trip is not only the volunteer work I am providing but being able to connect with people who don’t even speak your language.  Take all of the words, phrases, and gestures that you know of, shove them aside, and start all over using completely different words.  That is wild to me.  Sometimes their may be a   miscommunication at first, but when the puzzle is put together and their is mutual assent between both parties, I become filled with joy.  The feeling of that initial connection is indescribable.  For example, when filling and making the concrete, I was communicating with one of the workers who does not speak any English.  I knew what he was saying and even with my mediocre Spanish speaking skills, he could pick up on what I was saying.  I was IN THE ZONE.

I am not the best writer but when I feel passionate about a topic I could go on for days. Today was the day where it all made sense.  Sometimes in life, their may be questions that you will never find the answer to. AND THAT IS OK. After our lesson with Juan Carlos I approached him individually and told him my favorite quote that perfectly fit Guatemala to a T.  This quote is,



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SCOC: Leaving Long Island


It seems fitting that we woke to the sound of rain on our last morning on Long Island.

We are sad to be leaving, but heartened for the relationships built over the week.

Last nnight was amazing. We participated in a community talent show, which broke up the three dinners our hosts had prepared for us!

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There was so much joy and spirit shared in the meals, the singing and dancing, and in the kind and loving words of our hosts.

Until next year.

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SCOC: Last Full Day, Part 3





This trip has been an experience that I will never forget. I have made bonds with people that I never thought I would. The opportunities that I have been given are unbelievable. One moment throughout the week that will stick out to me would be on Monday when we went to the Glintons Primary School. It was amazing to see the way that the school it so different than ours. I thought that the kids were so full of life and happy for us to be there. The pictures won’t be able to show the amount of emotion and life that the kids bring to us.



This has been one of the most incredible weeks of my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better week with more amazing people. From painting and staining to playing with school kids and kayaking at sunset I will never forget this week. Walking on the beach and just looking out on the ocean was one of the best experiences of my life, one that has given me a very different perspective on things. Meeting and talking with the local community has also reminded me of the important things in life and has shown me that these people just do life better. Everyone is so welcoming and selfless; I can’t imagine a better place with better people. I couldn’t have asked for anything more this week and never want to leave. Peace. Love. S.C.O.C



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SCOC: Last Full Day, Part 2



The best part of this trip was the relationships that were formed and grown between myself/the group and the community of Long Island in such a short amount of time. Children that I played basketball with on the first day are now telling me about their hopes and dreams for college and what they want to be when they grow up. People like Tyrone, Jeffrey and Anthony, who picked us up from the airport are now showing us places on the island that are equally beautiful and special to them, and giving us once in a lifetime experiences. The Grey’s were complete strangers only 4 days ago, but have welcomed us into their church multiple times and shared dinner with us, which could not have been more of an honor. The genuine curiosity, openness, and love that has been given to us by these people has not ceased to amaze me the entire trip. I will be truly sad to leave, but I will strive and aspire to bring the ways of the Long Island people back home with me.


I can speak for everyone else when I say we never went 5 seconds without laughing or smiling while connecting with each other or with the local people of the island. One of the most meaningful highlights of the week for me took place on the last full day. We went to a local elementary school and facilitated a college awareness discussion with the kiddos from the school. In between discussing college life and encouraging what the children needed to do to get there, we did cheers made famous by pre-camp and NSO of Springfield College. As soon as we arrived to the room where all of the students lined up to greet us, there was at least a 10-foot difference between us and the children. By the time we finished cheering and talking with the students, there wasn’t even a 1-foot difference. The kids wanted to get closer and closer to us! The connection we made with the children in such short of a time made the experience that much more special. Endless hugs, high fives, hair braiding, piggyback rides, photos, and sharing aspirations for the future were in order after the planned activities! It was an absolute honor to be apart of this trip with the most beautiful people in one of the most beautiful communities of the world. The experiences I shared with everyone around me this week was just as interpersonal as it was intrapersonal. The way the people of Long Island welcomed us with open arms is how I will welcome and appreciate others for the rest of my life.


These past six days have been nothing but special! Before this week I barely knew everyone in the group, but as time went on we all became very close-knit and like a family. Going into the trip, I did not know what to expect when we got to Long Island, Bahamas, but right away, Tyrone and the people of the Bahamas made us all feel right at home, may it be when we went to church on Sunday at Beulah baptist church, or when we would get knocks at the door at 9:00 at night with people,like the Pastor and his wife, blessing us with baked goods or fruit! Also, everyday people would thank us for doing service projects on the island, but in turn I would notice my self saying thank you right back! Even though we were working hard, I still felt the need to give thanks to the lovely people of the Bahamas! They opened up their home to us and blessed us with a place to stay and many lifelong memories! I will always remember our time here and I will try and give back to this community as much as I can! We, as a group, have had so much fun, but we have also realized how fortunate we really are! This trip has made my college experience and my life so much better and has had a lasting impact! I am excited that SCOC will be connected to this island for years to come!

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SCOC: Last Full Day on Long Island


It is our last full day on the island, and it is bittersweet. This morning we have been prepping donations, practicing for tonight’s talent show, and reflecting.

Today and tomorrow, members of SCOC 2015 will share some of their memories.

I think the day we went to visit the elementary school was one of the memorable experiences I’ve had here in Long Island. Cultural interactions are so interesting, even more so when it’s with kids. Making connections with them and seeing the similarities and differences of their school dynamic was amazing. Our cultures are very different, but when it comes to human interaction with children here in the Bahamas, I felt like I was a camp counselor again or home playing with my younger siblings. I was able to learn so much and loved every second of it. As a group, we always talk about how we should remind ourselves to “be where our feet are”, and that day I 100% was.

I have had so many wonderful experiences in the short amount of time here on Long Island. One thing I will remember the most was a youth rally we participated in. The purpose of the rally was to support the youth on the island so that they could serve their communities later. At the end of the rally there was a ceremony where youth groups from the different churches on the island performed songs, dances, and read poetry. During the celebration the reverend called our group on stage and introduced us to the whole community. Once we got off stage so many of the people in the community came up to us and gave us hugs and began thanking us. This was before we had a chance to even begin our service. It was incredible to see how thankful everyone was for us to just be on Long Island. I tried to keep that memory with me the rest of the week when we were doing our service. The whole island community welcoming us with such open arms was an inspiration to do as much work as I could while in this beautiful place.

There are so many memorable experiences on Long Island that it is so hard to pick one experience to talk about. If I were to pick one experience, it would definitely be when we visited Glinton’s Primary School. This was the most memorable experience, but it really didn’t hit me until after we left. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of the kids and realize the similarities to the American life, outside of school, is almost identical. During the school visit, the kids took our phones, cameras, hats, and sunglasses. They were in charge of all of the pictures on our phones and cameras. When I was on my way back, I was looking through the pictures with some of the other members of the trip, and we realized that over 75% of the pictures taken were of us. It was really neat to see because it really showed their curiosity in the visitors that came to their school. They told us that they had never had visitors before and it was the most fun that the kids had ever had. This was so memorable for me because it really made me realize that our presence in these kids lives really matters.


Well this experience has pretty much been indescribable. I have more moments that have taken my breath away more than ever before,between the beautiful scenery and the beautiful people of the community. The stars, the water, the beaches are unlike anything I have ever seen. The people of the community are so accepting and appreciative. I have learned a lot about the culture here but also a lot about myself through reflection. The group I came down here with had become my SCOC family. I cannot put a value on this experience and all it has done for me.


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Habitat for Humanity: Day 3 – Clear eyes, full hearts

imageWritten by: Ryan O’Rourke, Tim Johansmeyer, Kristyn Mowry.

“We started our ‘No Way’ Wednesday saying ‘Yes Way'” (Ryan O’Rourke). We were determined to make historyn by being one of the only groups in collegiate challenge existence to complete the roof in one day. Not only did we make history, but we did it as one of the most “attractive groups around” (Bob the Builder). It wasn’t until the roof was finished that Bob (our site contractor) informed us that this was also one of the largest roofs he’s worked on. In addition to completing the roof, we finished wrapping and banding the home.

After a successful day on-site, we were treated to a southern feast hosted by the Atkison family, parents of a current Springfield College student. We were greeted by local high school students, community members, and Habitat volunteers. We are so unbelievably thankful and humbled for such gracious gestures and sentiments.













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SCOC: #wednesdayworkday


Gina’s Reflection:

Hello friends and families!
Yesterday we were able to get a lot of work accomplished.

image Very early in the morning a group of us went out and painted two crosswalks by two elementary schools. Those who stayed in the Mission House fetched water from the cistern and sorted donations to go to local schools.


In the afternoon we split into groups again and were able to paint the inside and outside of the church that we stay at as well as work in their office sanding and staining.


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After having a long, hard day at work, our host, Tyrone treated us to a bonfire with some members from the community where we had a chance to go kayaking in the bay. Our hosts, George and Cindy, made us the guests of honor at their beachside home. It was a perfect ending to the day.

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Peace. Love. SCOC.

~ Gina

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Habitat for Humanity: Off to a good start – Days 1 & 2

IMG_0545After a long day of travel, we made it safely to Sumter, South Carolina. So far we’ve been treated to southern hospitality, warm weather, and wonderful food. During our first day on-site, we met our construction team who gave us the overview of our responsibilities for the week, including the siding and roofing of the home. We were also fortunate enough to meet the homeowner, Pansy, a woman who was born in raised in Sumter. With the sunny weather came productivity – everyone jumped right in and was ready to work. One of the groups was able to completely finish ‘wrapping’ the home, getting us one step closer to layering vinyl siding. Others spent the day preparing the roof for shingling.
The community members of Sumter have been incredibly welcoming, treating us to delicious southern meals and great company.
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