Monday, April 7, 2014

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

A few of the Rockhurst volunteers
(courtesy of Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity) 
This Saturday, Delta Sigma Pi (the business fraternity) volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help them prepare their new ReStore building in Blue Springs.  Everyone in the fraternity is required to attend a service event, and this is the second time that we have been able to assist with this particular project.  Our chapter of DSP initially got connected to this project through one of our brothers, who is an employee of Habitat for Humanity, and we also got the UMKC chapter involved to have even more volunteers.  A local high school debate team also volunteered, so we were able to have a lot of hands on deck!

You can see me in the background of this one!
(courtesy of Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity) 
According to the website, RestoreKC describes themselves as "...your discount home improvement store! Donate your old items to help raise money for Habitat for Humanity Kansas City homes or shop us for great deals on furniture, building materials, lawn & garden or major appliances."  While talking to Mike, one of the managers at the site, he spoke to the importance of ReStore locations to allow people's monetary donations to the organization to go directly to their core efforts, that of building homes to people in need.  By funding daily operations such as salaries and utilities through the ReStore projects, they are able to supply their own income for the less "appealing" parts of the organization and depend on donor support for their core operations.
Smiling faces!
(courtesy of Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity) 

I really enjoyed getting a chance to help at the new ReStore location, and to be a part of the process.  We were completing projects from sweeping floors and cleaning windows to putting up door frames and bending metal.  Many of the guys mentioned that they enjoyed using power tools and getting dirty too!  It is always a unique opportunity to get to work with organizations around the community especially through volunteering.  


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interviews

So over the past few years, I have had many interviews, and throughout these interviews I've noticed a few things that are most useful to me, even if they aren't highlighted the most on any "advice pages".  So here are some pieces that I have found more useful to me than any other advice I have read:


  1. Stay Relaxed:  Most of the time, it seems that interviews aren't nearly as stressful as what many people make them out to be.  Its better to just be calm and treat the interview as more of a relaxed situation than a stressful one.  Interviewers are looking at whether or not they can see working with you and so its important to build a relationship with those potential colleagues.  
  2. Take a Deep Breath: (before answering any big questions)  I know that oftentimes when I'm in an interview, it can be really difficult to stay calm and I will talk too quickly, making it too difficult for the interviewers to understand what I'm really trying to say.  So I've found it best to, after any question is asked, take a deep breath, and intentionally speak a lot slower as I'm answering the question that they have asked so that my point will get across accurately and efficiently. 
  3. Know your Resume and the Position:  Know what it is that you really want the interviewers to know about you before even going in.  That way, you can highlight pieces of your resume that you are qualified and excited about, which makes it a lot easier to convince everyone that you are right for the job. 

Well good luck in your job search Hawks!  I hope that my little pieces of advice that I've shared can be minutely helpful in  your next interview during this "interview season" for all those summer internships and final jobs!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Growing Up

From the Rockhurst Twitter (@RockhurstU)
Last Thursday night and Friday was Rockhurst's official groundbreaking and a presentation to honor donors for the new academic building, named Arrupe Hall.  Thursday night was the presentation titled "Wisdom and Leadership Depicted Through Humor" by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau which was intended to honor the McMeel family, donors to the new building.  I attended this presentation and greatly enjoyed a chance to hear Mr Trudeau speak.  The presentation truly seemed to follow the title of the presentation, beginning with stories of coming into adulthood, moving into the story process ("humans are hardwired to create and process stories") and following with speaking on the topic of comedy ("the opposite of comedy is not seriousness, it is despair"), entertaining us the entire way through.  While he questioned his own ability to speak on the topic of wisdom, I found the whole presentation to be captivating.

Countdown we made at my high school for graduation
My favorite quote from his entire speech though came toward the beginning, and I found myself reflecting on it throughout this week.  As Mr Trudeau was speaking on his own coming of age, he spoke of navigating the "uncontrolled skid that is adolescence".  As I prepare for my own graduation from college in a mere 8 weeks of classes, I cannot help but reflect on the huge impact the past 4 years of my life will have on me and how quickly it has gone by.  It seems like just yesterday I found out that I received a full-tuition scholarship to attend Rockhurst, and now I'm in the final weeks to graduate.  Four years ago today I was working on projects for high school Spanish class and beginning a countdown bulletin board for graduation from high school (see above) with many of my closest friends, excited and nervous to take that huge step of moving away from home.  I never could have imagined what lie in store for me throughout these past four years, but that only points toward what little I can expect to know for the future.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Foreign Aid and Political Issues

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
One issue that I have found very interesting recently has been involving the recent Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act that has been passed and how it has affected foreign aid to this developing country.  This issue has caused organizations to make a decision regarding their guidelines for providing aid.  Many organizations give aid to this country due to the low GDP and to assist the nation in its continuing development efforts.  However, many organizations have felt that the enactment of this new bill does not line up with the values of the organization and have expressed a desire to withhold aid as a result of the passage of this law.  This article by the UN News Centre sites public health as a huge concern due to the high level of people living with HIV/AIDS in the nation.  With 1.5 million people living with HIV in Uganda, treatment is a huge concern due to studies that show that "when gay people face discrimination including abuse, incarceration and prosecution, they are less likely to seek HIV testing, prevention and treatment services" (UN).  The World Bank has postponed a $90 million loan to Uganda for maternal health, newborn care, and family planning due to the enactment of the new law.  The organization has concerns that the new law will "affect our projects and our gay and lesbian staff members" (BBC).  

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
The backlash experienced by this issue however, seemed to be anticipated by the lawmaker who first proposed the bill.  Overall, this bill was widely liked by the citizens of the nation, and the lawmaker believes that these withdraws of support are worth the preservation of the nation's moral values.  Whether a person agrees with the new law or does not however, I believe the most important thing to look at is how the average citizen's life will be hurt or made better by the enactment of the law.  Nonprofits and aid organizations additionally have to evaluate how their organization's values fall into line with any decision the government has made.  These widespread implications make politics and aid interesting topics to dig deeper into and to continue to follow closely.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Micro-lending

Courtesy of Unbound
Thursday night, I was able to attend an Unbound event, featuring Lillian, a woman working in Kenya as the director of the mother's groups for Unbound's Nairobi project. Lillian is an energetic woman with an eye for what really goes on in the sponsored families' homes. She grew up in a family with nine children in Mombasa, Kenya, which allows her to connect her own experiences with others around her. The event enabled people in the community to learn more about Unbound, the micro-lending program through mother's groups, and to socialize.

Courtesy of Unboud
The program began with time to socialize and then after an introduction by Elizabeth Alex, Director of New Channels, and Scott Wasserman, the newly elected CEO, Lillian began to talk about herself and her projects through compelling and entertaining stories using straight-forward language. Unbound's mother's  programs allow mothers of sponsored children in a community to meet together to support each other under the umbrella of the unbound community. These mothers represent their families, meeting once a month to discuss their community and what they can do to support them. 
Courtesy of Unbound

The most unique part about this group is their micro-lending programs. The women are encouraged to donate just about $1.10 per month to a group "pool", which unbound matches. At any given time, a mother can approach the group to request a loan to start their own business, expand a business, pay for a child's school tuition, or pay for medical expenses. 70% of the loans requested are to support businesses. These businesses may be raising poultry, farming, providing laundry services, or perhaps creating necklace and bracelets through intricate bead work. The loans allow the women to make the investment needed to start these businesses and then make money to support the family. 

Courtesy of Unbound
Lillian shared how important this income is to the family in this way: if a family does not have a steady job, the mother or father might go out in the community to find a job as a daily laborer. If they come home without having found a job, this also means that the family will not have a meal to feed their children. Lillian shared stories of mothers placing a pot on the stove without starting the fire, and then when their children ask "Mom, when is dinner" she simply says, "Its being cooked, just be patient". Eventually the children fall asleep without realizing they didn't have dinner, carrying them over into another day. These tactics are heart-breaking for these mothers and can cause fights for the parents. By allowing the mothers to start their own business, they no longer have to worry about whether or not they can provide a meal for their family, which provides huge ripple effects for everyone in the community. 






Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend Activities (part 3)

#5: Fine Arts events

Throughout the city, there are also many opportunities to explore the fine arts.  From the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, to the UMKC Conservatory, there are countless chances to see an Opera, the Ballet, or a play directed by Kansas City's own. Almost every weekend, I will look over at the Visit KC website, and there are several plays and various types of performances available to enjoy.  While I have only been able to attend a few of these types of performances, there are consistently opportunities for people to see these events across a huge spectrum of costs and locations. From free concerts on the plaza and at colleges to events you pay a much higher price for at the Kauffman Center. 

#6: Concerts

Throughout my time at Rockhurst, I have also attended many concerts. From my very first concert
of Flogging Molly at the Uptown Theater in March of my freshman year, to the concert I am seeing this weekend- Infected Mushroom at the Midland- a gift to my boyfriend, I have taken advantage of the music scene in Kansas City. There are often many free concerts at the Power and Light district such as their line of concerts during the summer on Thursday and Friday nights. (Country on Thursdays and more pop/dance music on Fridays) I saw Silversun Pickups as part of the MLS week, and Icona Pop for these reasons! There are also the fair share of more expensive "big name" concerts at the Sprint Center on a regular basis. 
Overall, my time living in Kansas City has been full of numerous types of ways to spend my evenings and weekends. People are never left to have nothing to do on weekends in the city- so staying busy is never a problem! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weekend Activities (part 2)

#2: Nelson- Atkins Art Museum

A sunset in front of some of the permanent outside art
This museum, located less than a mile from the university, allows free entry to see all of the permanent exhibits at all times.  With a large lawn with permanent art installations that provide entertainment in addition to the huge collections inside, this museum has entertained me for many afternoons and evenings throughout my time at Rockhurst.  Many students will also use the front lawn to host frisbee tournaments, picnics, and general opportunities to meet up with group of people on a nice afternoon.










#4: Festivals (Renaissance Festival, Fiesta Hispana, Plaza Art Fair etc)


Over the years, I have been able to attend numerous festivals, fairs, and other events around the city.  The Renaissance Festival- while among the most expensive of the events I'll share- was a lot of fun for my family and I.  (My parents last visited while my mom was pregnant with me!) Between the costumes of other attendees, jousting tournaments, hundreds of booths for Renaissance themed food and gifts, camel rides, and jesters; the whole day was filled with entertaining activities.  
My brother was the happiest I've ever seen him riding
a camel at the Renaissance Festival
Fiesta Hispana in the downtown area was my first experience with a Spanish-themed festival with booths selling food and items from many different cultures from Latin America, in addition to performances and artists.  The Plaza Art Fair (along with the Westport Art Fair, and the Brookside Art Fair, among others) features booths from artists from all around the country in addition to deals offered by restaurants and stores in the area is always a great chance to walk around and soak up the art culture in Kansas City.  
You never know what you'd find at Fiesta Hispana
My mom, brother, and I at the Renaissance Festival

Fiesta Hispana- downtown