Friday, May 4, 2012

All is well that ends well! Pema Wangzome's Final Post

With a bag full of memories and some new skills that I picked, I am ready to face the coming days. Looking back at the past year, I feel like August was some ten years ago, not because it was plain but because I have learnt so much. Summit has been a wonderful learning and living experience that I know I will never forget. The classes have all been informative and insightful. And the project that my roommates and I worked on was delightful! The project started off very well. We had a lot of interested volunteers show up to help us with our project. I am very thankful for all those who came to help and support us.

Although I was a bit hesitant in the beginning since I wasn't sure of the areas of special needs the kids required, I quickly moved past that because I had my roommates and I wasn't alone. And my past experience in working with special needs children helped me be confident in interacting and guiding the kids.

With a good winter break, I came back fully charged to make some more differences in these kids’ lives. Alas, our community partner was busy so things didn't go as well as we had hoped. We had but one successful event this whole semester.

Though we had some bumpy rides on the way, the fact that we are standing together now, smiling at each other says it all. I am very glad I had the opportunity to live in Summit and carry out the project we chose. I would like to thank my roommates for the wonderful memories that we shared! I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Courtney swan for, forever being so patient and doing the best for us. Thank you!

                 -Pema Wangzome

Suzy Bartek's Final Post

Wow, it's hard to believe that it's already been a whole school year since we first moved into summit. Time sure does fly by doesn't it. I don't know about everyone else, but I definitely thought it went by really fast. What's even more interesting is the fact that I know I've changed a lot since my first month here in summit, and it wasn't just the project that was changing me. See, I thought I knew my roommates when I first agreed to move in with them, but living with people is completely different from knowing people. We grew and really bonded together during our time here, and I am honestly going to miss having them around next year. I mean I will see them around on campus and we will all hang out, but somehow I know it's not going to be the same. Maybe it'll be better, maybe it'll just be different...who honestly knows. No matter what happens though I was very glad to have this opportunity to live in summit and experience this project with the people I did. I feel like I grow a little more each year in college, and this will definitely be a year I'll never forget. If there is one thing I learned from the summit experience it would be to never expect anything to go correctly! Just kidding! But seriously, it's to expect the unexpected and figure out ways to always see the brighter side of every situation. If you do that, you'll find yourself not as stressed and more capable of dealing with situations easier. All in all I do not regret my time here in summit, and all the trial and hardships we went through individually and as a group has done nothing but provide us with more experience. So with that I would like to end by saying that I hope everyone has a great summer! See you next year!
                  -Suzy Bartek

Shelby Hoover's Final Post

      Summit Leadership Park has been an exciting and educational experience for me this year. Though our community service project, Special Olympics-Young Athletes Program, I learned a lot about myself as a leader and accomplished a lot by giving back to the community. In the Young Athletes Program, we a handful of children by giving them experience in playing different sports such as baseball, soccer, basketball and more. I also learned more about planning an event of a larger scale. It takes a lot of prior planning, teamwork and patience. Ultimately, though, I formed relationships with the children that came to our program and with my fellow Summit Park team members.

        Summit Park has helped me realize exactly how I am a leader and what I look for in fellow leaders. It has also helped me by giving me further insight in working with a team. It at times was be difficult to find times when everyone is available with the busy schedules that we all had and other unforeseen circumstances but we found ways to work around this and produce a project that we can be happy with. I have grown as a leader and I feel more confident in my role as part of a team, as am individually and in the community.
           -Shelby Hoover

Emily Stebbins Final Post

        Although everything did not go according to plan this year, our Summit Group still accomplished what we initially set out to do. We only reached a few children, but that is better than none. I am happy with the bonds we formed with the children and what we learned about working with special needs children.
       This semester, we only help two Young Athletes Programs. This was due to some scheduling difficulties with our community sponsor. Although we would have loved to hold four to eight YAP’s, two is better than none. We got to work with a child that we saw last semester as well. It was nice to have a returning child to help him further.
       Overall, our group learned a lot from living in Summit. We learned about how to work in a group. We all realized that there are some aspects of team work that we are good at and other areas that we need to work on. As a whole, our group worked very well together which made everything much easier. Summit was a good experience that we all learned from.
        For me, specifically, I learned that I need to work on communication with my other group members. I have no problem taking the initiative to get things done. But, I often times forget to keep my group members up to date on the progress that we are making. This is something that I am confident that I can work on to improve. 
               -Emily Stebbins

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Positivity in the Community

Our community partner was the Special Olympics of Missouri. Even more specifically, we focused on the Young Athletes Program which was for special needs children from ages 3 to 8. Our project wasn’t focused on an “issue” in the community. Rather, the Special Olympics are about giving opportunities and chances to those who might not normally receive those, specifically with sports.
One of the biggest reasons that I really loved working with the Special Olympics was due to their positive impact in the community.
Personally, this has really opened my eyes and helped me learn to interact and teach students with special needs. As a future educator, this is a necessary skill. I’m glad that I will have an opportunity to work with these types of students before I start teaching.

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The past few months of dedication to Young Athletes Program, Special Olympics has taught me a lot of things. I have learnt that while giving something, you are not losing anything. In fact, the joy that you see in the other person’s face after you help them is much more valuable than the help you render.
The service project really opened my eyes to the many different opportunities to help, here in Springfield. The fact that there are so many organizations, willing to help anybody makes me very proud of humanity. It is a valuable piece of my experience here in the United States that I am taking back home, to my country. Until my graduation, I wish to continue to volunteer when ever possible, especially in the field of special Olympic since I have picked up skills from the service project and also from my past volunteer experience at a vocational institute for the intellectually challenged in 2011. The skills will make it easier and give me more confidence to deal with mentally/physically challenged people.

How Volunteering Lead to More Volunteering

The Mission Statement of the Special Olympics is:
“The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. “(Taken from Special Olympics Website)
The mission of the Special Olympics is a great one that we really wanted to base our summit project on. Instead of using the idea of trying to help out an event that was already in place, we as a group thought it would be even better if we were able to set up an event here at Drury that would be geared towards the younger kids in the Special Olympics. We thought that this would make more of an impact considering that Springfield doesn’t have a lot of programs specifically for special needs children in this age group.
We ran into a lot of troubles along the way, but I still feel like we made a difference. With the kids we got we were able to see improvement in them by the end of the night. However, I would have to say that the biggest difference I see is in our summit group. We all were able to learn something from this experience, if not just the fact that organizing an event is not as easy as we thought it would be.  I am from St. Louis, and being from St. Louis I started off having the thought that when it comes to volunteering there are so many other people in the city that none of those volunteer groups need any help from me.  I know it’s a silly thought, but I just figured I wouldn’t know how to help them out. Just by looking at our experience down here with trying to organize an event shows me how difficult and frustrating it can be at times. So, because of my experience here in Springfield I plan on trying to volunteer while at home a lot more.