Do What Makes You Happy :-)

        This quote has been so vital to my life right now as I’m in the process of applying to four year institutions. While we are in school,  it’s important to remember why we chose our majors and the deeper meaning that caused us to choose our current paths.

Did you want to be a singer so you could make people smile? Did you want to be a social worker so you could help people live a fully functional life? Did you want to be a doctor so you could save lives? Did you want to be an accountant so you could help a company be successful?

   Whatever your desires are make sure you can identify them. It’s essential to know that your expectations for your future will be met and you will be satisfied. Many people only seek occupations that provide the best monetary benefits, but that doesn’t mean anything if they are miserable every single day at work.

Happiness is imperative for emotional and spiritual wellness

You want life to be experienced at it’s full capacity in every single moment

Find something that drives you, and motivates you

Find something that will excite you everyday even in the mundane moments…

 Every single person has their own niche

 Each person can develop a pretty fantastic life surrounding what truly makes them happy.

Life has the possibility of being quite AMAZING when you’re happy :-)

Something New :-)

     I CHALLENGE every single person to try something new this semester. There are so many clubs & activities happening every single week on each campus! I want to encourage people to be involved because it allows you to make more friends and learn new things. Going to events where you don’t know anyone can be intimidating & uncomfortable, but most likely at every event there is one other person who feels the same way. It’s important to step outside of your boundaries and explore! Last semester when I became more involved, I gained true friendships and experienced life changing moments. I really want the same for YOU!

To find out more about the events that will be happening this semester visit the Student Life Calendar: http://www.ccbcmd.edu/media/collegelife/media/slcalendarofevents.pdf

It’s time for you to…

….And it’s back to the books!

After only a couple weeks of the semester, I’m already submersed in pages upon pages of reading. It’s easy to find myself getting frustrated and overwhelmed by the vast amount of information that my brain is attempting to comprehend, but then I stop and think. I’m actually extremely grateful and thankful for the opportunity to even have multiple textbooks within my grasp. I’m free to have an education and to excel as a individual in our society. In a world where illiteracy is still a concern, the fact that I can read the words on the pages within my textbooks is impressive.

When I approach my reading assignments with an optimistic attitude, my time spent reading becomes more beneficial and efficient. I know that the knowledge I gain through my textbooks will help me to be successful in my classes and my future. I consistently think about how I can apply what I’m learning to my ultimate goals in life. So…this week when you’re stressed because of the amount of school work that’s weighing you down, just know that you’re a gifted intellectual individual who is in the process of becoming an educated professional leader. The time that you’re committing to your school work is worth it!

And…

 

What a BEAUTIFUL semester!

At the beginning of this semester, I promised myself that I would make this a semester of service and involvement. As I embarked on this journey, I never realized the impact that this semester could have on my life. I’ve met so many people within my community, and from other places. I’ve acquired new skills from every single experience, and I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I could. It’s been a unique semester, and the exciting part is that it doesn’t have to end! I will be at CCBC for one more semester, before completing my Associates degree. I plan on continuing my extreme love of service throughout the fall semester, and onto whatever four year university I choose to attend.

I’ve had so many epic moments in this semester that are imprinted on my heart forever. From hugging native children in South Dakota to helping women pick out clothes in a domestic violence shelter in Baltimore, I’ve had a whirlwind of experiences. They each translated into my everyday life, and helped me to be a successful student this semester.

During college, there are some semesters where a student has to take classes that don’t necessarily interest them because it’s a requirement for their major. Unfortunately, instead of spreading out the classes that were the least appealing to me,  I decided to take them all in one semester. However, I think it was fate that it happened this way because it was the same semester that I chose to make service a vital part of my life. My acts of service motivated me throughout the semester to embrace all the new knowledge I was learning in my classes, and to realize how blessed I was to even be going to college.

As we all make our way through our last week of classes, it’s time to just reminisce about the semester and come to the realization that we have each accomplished our goals. These positive thoughts should help each one of us prepare for finals, because if we’ve gotten this far….finals are going to be a PIECE OF CAKE! ;-)

Just remember…

Perspective

This week I saw this quote in a book:

“If children with terminal cancer can find love,  joy, beauty and peace in their day-and they do-why don’t we?”

This is such a powerful statement.

As I read this statement quietly to myself, I was taken aback by how truthful this line was. The amount of things that I hear myself and others complain about on a daily basis is unending. Each one of my complaints are pale in comparison to a child having to deal with cancer.

I took a picture of the quote, and have it as the wall paper on my cell phone. I desired to have this powerful statement displayed on my phone, so I would be inspired throughout  my day. I know I will become more thankful and apt to find the goodness in each moment. Every single person has problems that they are dealing with, but what’s important is their perspective on their problems. A person can view their lives as a glass, that’s either half full or half empty.

I believe it’s important to be motivated to find the “joy, beauty and peace” in each day, especially as we are conquering these last few weeks of the semester. Just remember, that no matter how much stress you have, YOU can get through it and YOU can make it to tomorrow!  It’s important that you have an optimistic perspective on your situation because that positivity will help you to succeed even more.

I hope that each and every one of you applies this quote that I shared to your days within the next few weeks. I know I will be using the quote to motivate myself and persevere through!

Creating a Better Community

 “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.

For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of working with the Sandtown Habitat for Humanity in Baltimore City. It was an exhausting day, but full of excitement!

We began the day by getting suited up for our insulating adventures. Unfortunately, insulation irritates the skin and work suits/masks were required for our task. Most might complain about the unfashionable apparel, but our group lived it up!

As we were about to head into the row home to start insulating, we were redirected to a different location to load styrofoam sheets into a house. It took us multiple hours to get the whole load into the row home. Our group along with another school group had to work together to fill every single spot of the house with these styrofoam sheets.

   

After we finished this tedious task, we were able to experience the dedication of a completed Habitat for Humanity house. We witnessed a man being handed the keys to his new home. He spoke and said that Habitat for Humanity made his dream a reality. It’s amazing knowing that our intensive labor and service was part of making someone’s dream come true :-)

Next, we returned to our original location and started insulating the ceiling on the third floor.  It was extremely hot, but we all diligently worked until there was no more insulation to finish the job. We climbed ladders, and stapled each piece of insulation into place. For me, insulating was a new skill and I was excited to learn all about it!

Our whole group felt so accomplished as we reflected on our day. We were determined to make a difference, even if it was in a small way. As we completed our day of service, it was so rewarding! It was wonderful to know that deserving families would be moving into the houses we were working on. Each family has such strength and perseverance in the face of darkness. A new home will become a vibrant light in their lives.

 

The POWER of Kind Words

In a world where everyone is focused on themselves, it’s easy to pass by others without a second thought. However, I’m challenging everyone to stop and share some kind words with a stranger. Everyone everywhere is dealing with struggles and the kindness that you share could be the only light within a stranger’s day.

As we are nearing the end of the semester, every student at CCBC could use encouraging words. Stressful finals are quickly approaching and each student has a lot on their plate before they can finish their classes.

I believe that kind words can speak volumes about your integrity and personality. It’s important to be true to yourself wherever you go. Believe that your kind words can be an important influence in someone’s life today. 

A Profound Spring Break

As I stepped on the plane in Baltimore, I had no idea what my week would entail. I had made generalizations about what projects would be filling each day, but I had no idea the impact that each activity would have on my life.

I was part of a group of eight students and two advisers from CCBC who headed out to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota for spring break. From the moment we arrived on the reservation, I knew that this spring break would be very different from any other. We became a part of a bigger mission that has been making a difference in Pine Ridge for over 15 years. The organization is called Re-Member and it is an outreach to the Oglala Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  We assimilated with two other school groups to form a larger team for the week. Everyday we were split into groups, and worked in the reservation to complete different projects.

The first project I participated in was building a deck for the front of a trailer. The family was using cinder blocks as steps from their doorway, and it was dangerous. Throughout the process of building, I learned how to use a power drill, and power saw. It was thrilling using such powerful instruments for the first time, especially since my new skills were essential to the completion of the project. While I was diligently working,  I was able to mingle with the other students who were from Iowa and Washington D.C. It was inspiring and enjoyable being around so many others who had such a heart and willingness for service. Our crew for the day only had fifteen people, and we were able to finish the new deck within an hour and a half. We felt accomplished when we admired our completed deck (seen below):

Because we finished so quickly, our group was able to go back to the Re-Member headquarters and have a tasty lunch. We also made time for a surprise dance party in the kitchen to the famous song, “My Girl”. The energy from the dance party revved us up for an afternoon of organizing. Our crew spent the rest of the day performing some “heavy-lifting” between two trailers in order to make room for more lumber supplies. Once the new lumber load arrived, we loaded the wood with an assembly line of people. Although the supplies were extremely heavy, no one quit. This determination was displayed throughout the week.

My second project of the week was quite unique because I was given the opportunity to go to the Porcupine Indian School on the reservation. I knew that this project would be extremely important because of the suicide rate on the reservation. The teen suicide rate is four times the national rate, and the average age that children commit suicide is at the age of ten.

As I was walking into the school, I knew it was my responsibility to shed light onto these kids. However, the children surprised me because they already had genuine hope within themselves. They were talkative and spunky, and I was in awe of their brilliance. The kindergarten students were not only learning the English language, but they were learning their native Lakota language, too. However, there was an underlying urgency for each child to get noticed. They were competing for my attention, and yearning for affection. They wanted to know my name, hug me, play with my hair and sit with me at lunch. I felt so admired by these loving children. All I wanted to do was express to them how special they all were. I didn’t want to leave without each one of them knowing that they were cared about. I wanted them to know that they had a wonderful future ahead of them.

I was feeling like my goal wasn’t a possibility, until one little girl came up to me and asked me,  “Have you forgotten me yet?” and “Do you remember me?”.  This particular little girl not only talked to me all day long, but dragged me to sit with her at lunch. I basically was with her the entire day, and her question caught me off guard. I replied, “of course I remember you!”.  She then smiled at me fondly and said,  “I know your name is Jennifer…and I’m never, ever going to forget you”.  My heart melted in that very moment, and I knew for at least one child I had made a difference. This day was one of the best days of my life and because of my experiences at the Porcupine School, I want to commit to helping the native children on the reservation. They are the future of the Lakota nation and they are sacred beings. My first step to helping  is to write to that one very special little girl to remind her that she has not been forgotten even though I’m thousands of miles away. The picture below is the team who was able to go to the Porcupine School:

My third and final project of the week was building bunk bed parts. This day was tedious and very different from the rest of the work days. As a crew, we weren’t able to see the direct impact our work was having on the natives. However, seeing the native children the day before gave me the fortitude needed for this project.

Many children on the reservation sleep on the floor every night and have never had a restful night of sleep in their lives. We were assisting Re-Member by making the parts that they would then assemble into bunk beds throughout the reservation. I had the exciting job of painting for the morning, and sanding in the afternoon. The day was filled with conversation among the crew, and I was able to learn many things about the people I was working beside. It made our project meaningful as we bonded over painting a ladder for a bunk bed. Overall, we made enough parts for ten bunk beds, and it was wonderful knowing that each bunk bed would be going to a deserving home. This is two of us painting the bottom of a bunk bed:

Although I only shared three projects, there were several other parts to this trip. Every night we had the pleasure of listening to native speakers and we even got to hear some of them sing. I felt so honored that they considered us part of their family, and passionately told us of their trials and tribulations. They opened our eyes and showed us history through their point of view. It was overwhelming learning about the hardships they faced when the Europeans came into their native land. They have clung to their faith in the great spirit and are strong people.

After hearing the true stories of the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Indian boarding schools, I want to help make their culture thrive. It’s chilling to know that our European ancestors treated the natives like savages and had no remorse for the killings they performed. They stripped the natives of their culture and forced them to become more like them.

We were able to visit the actual site of the Wounded Knee Massacre, and the feeling of being in that location was unreal. It was a real event that happened, and nothing was done to stop it. When I was able to walk through the Wounded Knee cemetery, my heart was filled with so much sorrow.  I saw all of the names of those who were killed during the Massacre, as well as  other natives who have died at such a young age. This was a pivotal moment for me during my week at Pine Ridge because it made me work harder and strive to learn more.

As a group, we were submersed into the beauty of the native land and the Lakota culture. We were given a special pass to experience something so delicate and sacred. The whole week was emotionally and physically grueling as we were challenged to reach our full capacity in life. I was ignorant of what happened in this nation in the past, and I was embarassed that I didn’t even know that Indian reservations existed before being selected for this trip. I left the reservation with an obligation to spread the knowledge I have gained of the Lakota people, and to make a difference in this nation for the natives. The Lakota people put their faith in us, and we made a promise to them when they spoke to us with such honesty and passion.

At home in Baltimore, I feel like I’m in a different world. I have cell phone service, internet and an abundance of food. These were all things that I lived without for one week, and it helped me to be present in every moment. I wouldn’t trade my spring break for anything in the world. I grew as a person, and as a woman. My memories will last a lifetime, and won’t be forgotten because I’m going to incorporate them into my every day life. I will remember the Lakota nation and hope to revisit my new friends often.

The most important Lakota phrase

Mitakuye Oyasin

means

“WE ARE ALL RELATED

If you are interested in learning more about the Lakota nation and Re-Member’s efforts in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation visit www.re-member.org

Cultural Diversity

“We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors. But, they all fit nicely into the same box.”
-Unknown

“Embracing diversity is one adventure after another, opening new paths of discovery that connect an understanding to caring, listening, and sharing with others who are different than ourselves.”
-April Holland

   Our nation is a diversified place with different religions, races and traditions.  People should learn more about other cultures, so that they don’t have such an ethnocentric view of the world. Our world’s population is growing and interconnecting. Understanding other people’s perspectives is essential to life, if you want to live in a harmonious way.

  I believe that understanding cultural diversity is essential to my spring alternative trip to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation this coming week. I will not only be walking into the culture of Pine Ridge, but the other students on this journey are all of different cultures as well. During this experience, I will be able to learn about the unique little things that make each culture special. I’m excited for this opportunity to be exposed to a culture that I want to learn more about!

**If you’re interested in an alternative trip,  the summer alternative break will be venturing to Nicaragua. More information can be provided if you visit the Student Life Office on your campus!

Irreplaceable

While listening to a sermon this weekend, I had an epiphany about individuality. As students, we are all  going to school to make a difference in our lives, and to become “somebody” someday. We aren’t going to school to blend in with the crowd, we want to STAND OUT. The only way to be different is to be yourself.

Personally, there are some days when I compare myself to other students, and think about how I wish I could be better at certain subjects. When you have determination to succeed, you always try to find ways to improve. This can sometimes become exhausting and chaotic, because there is always going to be someone smarter or more talented than you. BUT….what you have to remember is that there is NO ONE exactly like you! You are unique and there is no comparison!

I realized that I am the BEST at being me! I was made to be intricate, and this gave me hope.

Continue to let your originality shine as you make your way through college because that’s what will be noticeable to professors and peers alike. After you graduate, employers will  appreciate those rare qualities that only you possess. Therefore, don’t let the negativity of others and the overly competitive nature of our society sway you from acting like yourself.

Life is fleeting….so dare to be different today because in the end you want to be irreplaceable to this world.