Wednesday, November 21, 2012

West Virginia 2013

Yale Alumni Service Corps

Announces the

 2013 First Domestic Service Trip to West Virginia

June 26th-June 30th, 2013

We are extremely excited to announce the first Yale Alumni Service Corps domestic service trip to West Virginia!!! On June 26th-June 30th, we will be traveling to Huntington & Montgomery, WV to work at Marshall University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology providing college counseling and writing coaching for high achieving low-income local students. These students live in an area that was formerly a strong mining community but has been depleted of jobs and opportunities for many years. Most of the students will be the first generation in their families to consider college so we need to help them have an unforgettable experience next summer and assist them to achieve their greatest potential for the future!!

College Summit sessions with volunteer coaches and studentsYASC will partner with College Summit, an organization founded by Yale alumni J.B. Schramm '86, which has established relationships with local schools in underserved areas of the Unites States to provide coaching and mentoring for students with the goal of increased enrollment rates at institutions of higher education. College Summit has been established in West Virginia since 2001 when they did their first test pilot program and since then they have touched the lives of over eight thousand students from twenty seven high schools. While working in a college setting, College Summit provides both college counseling and coaching in writing college essays along with activities in workshops that fosters student-leaders.
Coal transport train and river used for coal transport barges & power
Click below for the whole post

Monday, November 19, 2012

Far From Home, Briefly -- From the Yale Alumni Magazine

Check out the YAM article about the Yale Alumni Service Corps trip to Ghana. . . .
When the five buses roll into the Ghanaian town of Yamoransa, hundreds of children are waiting on the red dirt plaza in front of a low-slung concrete-block school building. The children bob and shout as 160 Yale volunteers climb off the buses and cautiously skirt the steep open sewer that separates the highway from the plaza. For five days in late July and early August, in this impoverished town on Africa’s Atlantic coast, this scene will repeat itself every morning: the volunteers plowing through the throng, the Ghanaian children reaching out for handshakes, saluting the visitors with high fives, and sometimes crowding around two ten-year-old volunteers to touch their long hair. (The Ghanaian schoolchildren have buzz cuts, boys and girls alike.)
Yale Alumni Magazine: Far From Home, Briefly (Nov/Dec 2012)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

News from Nicaragua 2012

So much was accomplished by the YASC volunteers in Nicaragua!  We are looking forward to adding to this list when we return in 2013.  Join us for an exceptional experience where you could be part of:
  • 61 YASC volunteers traveled to Nicaragua to work in the mountain village of El Castillo
  • 24 Yale School of Nursing students and facility partnered with YASC on the program
  • Additional collaborated with the Yale School of Public Health for students and recent graduate participants
  • YASC awarded 11 scholarships to Yale undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates
  • 400 patients were treated in the Medical clinic and excess supplies donated to the local Health Post in a nearby village
  • Health Education classes were taught in dental care, diseases, diabetes/hypertension, domestic violence and nutrition
  • Construction work was done on two brick houses as well as the repair of a road and material relocation
  • Participants assembled 100 water filters and distributed them to three villages
  • Volunteers taught hundreds of children music, geography, English and computers
  • Arts Group worked with students and adults to create paintings, jewelry, friendship bracelets and build drums
  • Sports Group coached dozens of children in kick ball, soccer and baseball and donated new equipment
  • A new school library was established with hundreds of English and Spanish books in new book cases

News from Ghana 2012

A few months ago we left Yamoransa. We’ve been home for a while now, settled back into our comfortable routines. Hot water. Drinkable water. Air-conditioning. Personal space. Restful nights. Riceless meals. You might be thinking back on your experience this summer and wondering…did I make a difference?

You will draw your own conclusions based on your personal experience, but here is the answer provided by the king of Yamoransa, Nana Akwaa II:  “Before you came we were a village that had lost it community spirit. You helped us find our spirit again. You lit a fire under us. You made us believe that things are possible.”

With your talent and skill you worked with Yamoransans to seek solutions for their poverty and other challenges that they face. Thank you for your collective efforts that:
  • Inspired children with a love of learning, of the arts, of athletics, and opened their minds to a different culture.
  • Provided care for the sick with knowledge, skill, and kind words.
  • Built the foundation for a community center, and I don’t mean a foundation of poured concrete but rather a foundation of motivation and possibility.
  • Formed associations of workers who can better leverage their skills collectively rather than on their own.
  • Inspired girls with a model for success and the message to stay in school.
And many thanks to the organizations and individuals who made this possible:
  • Our program was launched by with the assistance of the Yale World Fellows with an introduction to Emmanuel Asiedu, a World Fellow in 2008. We work in concert with our Fellows all over the world to identify targets of opportunity in impoverished areas.
  • Kwame Otchere and AFS Ghana volunteers including Evans Yeboah, Eddie and many more who worked so hard in preparation and will be working throughout the year to sustain projects initiated by our visit.
  • University of Cape Coast leveraged our time and talent to further build on their already successful social work and research in the community.
  • Unite for Sight which put Yamoransa on its quarterly rotation, providing eye care where none existed.
  • ONE and Yale for setting the stage for advocacy events to be organized throughout our network of Yale Clubs.
  • Coca-Cola for supporting our efforts both financially and with six volunteers sharing their expertise with our college mentoring, education, and athletics teams.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, the YASC volunteers. If any one person had stayed home, we would have accomplished a bit less, seen fewer smiles, taught fewer classes, or treated fewer patients. Most of all, YASC in Ghana could not have succeeded without the amazing volunteer leaders who worked tirelessly in organizing the project teams. Having worked hard to prepare for the projects, many of the teams arrived in Yamoransa to find that quite a bit had to be changed around and adapted to the reality of the community. We are all appreciative of the great efforts by the official leaders as well as those who became leaders during the trip.

And it could not have been done without the help of many participants from AYA and Yale including Johnson Flucker, Nory Babbitt, Alisa Masterson, Rick Leone, Mike Morand and especially the work of Joao Aleixo and the inspiration of Mark Dollhopf.

See you in Ghana next year when we return to Yamoransa and share even more amazing experiences with the community and each other.

Kathy Edersheim: While Kathy was working as the volunteer producer for Ghana, as of the middle of April, she joined the AYA as part of the professional team. She is Senior Director of International Alumni Relations and Travel. Her primary responsibility is for the Yale Educational Travel trips with additional responsibility for YASC and the Yale Global Alumni Leadership Exchange.

Christine Chiocchio Meets a Little Girl Named Karen

In March, I was a volunteer on the YASC trip to Nicaragua. My assignment was to document the experience with photography and to create a video for the YASC. I was able to interact with all of the teams and to see first hand what was being accomplished. I also had the opportunity to interview the villagers to find out what impact the program had on their community.  

The most moving experience for me occurred on the second to last day in the village. One of the volunteers, Steve Griggs, brought a petite, slightly, 12 year old girl to me and explained that she had walked over 5 kilometers on her own (carrying her little brother) because she heard that there were doctors there. With Steve's help translating, Karen began to tell us how "all of her life" she has wanted to become a doctor, so she came to ask the YASC group how she could do this. As she spoke, her eyes lit up and she became very animated, describing how she would write out pretend prescriptions for her friends. She was so passionate and sincere, that it was hard to imagine her not achieving her goal. In spite of the fact that few children attend school beyond 6th grade, Karen was already in 7th grade. I decided to make it my mission to help Karen reach her goal.

With the aid of several YASC volunteers and friends, we are creating a scholarship fund for Karen Torcero. I am also looking forward to next year's trip to Leon where I hope to meet with Professors in the Medical Department of the University.

Christine Chiocchio: Christine is an artist and photographer in Stony Creek, Connecticut.  In October, Christine exhibited her photography and videography at the James Blackstone LIbrary in Brandford, CT.  All sales proceeds from the show went to the Karen Ximara Hernandez Tercero Scholarship Fund.

Puneet Batra's Experience in Ghana

On a warm day this summer, I found myself in the most unexpected of situations – standing at a junction in the town of Yamoransa, in Ghana, running up to passing trucks, peddling Kenkey packed in blue plastic bags. Inside were 8 fist-sized balls of the fermented starch with a going price of 4 Ghana Cedis, the equivalent of 2 US Dollars. I asked my hosts – the women entrepreneurs who produce and sell this corn based staple – how did the truck drivers know what was in the blue plastic bags? It turns out that Yamoransa is known for its Kenkey and everyone recognizes the bright blue plastic bags as containing Kenkey.

I was in Yamoransa with the Yale Alumni Service Corps’ first service trip to Africa. The Kenkey women were one of many groups of women that the business development team was working with. Since we were asking so many questions about how Kenkey is made and how it is sold, they decided that we would learn best by doing it. So that’s how I ended up on the side of the road in Ghana, selling Kenkey to truck drivers. And yes, I did make a sale.
We helped the Kenkey women form an association for handling bulk orders, negotiating bulk pricing, and branding. They even got a logo designed by YASC volunteer, Cynthia Frank. Other members of the business group worked with the bread makers who also formed an association, and helped them negotiate down the price of flour that they buy from the mill. The dress makers were able to create contacts with a local resort where the manager agreed to have them sell dresses whenever a large group of tourists was in town. These are just some examples of what the business development group was able to achieve in a matter of just one week, surpassing any of our expectations.

Meanwhile, the construction crew was busy laying the foundation for a new building which would house the Information, Communication and Technology center, bringing internet connectivity into Yamoransa for the first time. The education teams carried out fun experiments with the children to explain concepts such as magnetism and gravity while introducing them to the scientific method. The arts group had the children create body impressions on Tyvek, create collages and self-portraits among other things. The mural group painted a beautiful mural representing Yamoransa and Yale on the side of the primary school. The athletics team held a soccer “world cup” after which hundreds of children erupted in celebration onto the courtyard singing “Ole, Ole, Ole!” The college mentoring group mentored groups of boys and girls on why and how to apply for college, among other things. The medical team saw over 700 patients in a span of 5 days, treating a variety of ailments and providing treatment as well as advice on how to manage the conditions after we were gone.
In addition to the 150 YASC volunteers that descended on Yamoransa, we were assisted by an army of volunteers from AFS Ghana who helped us with everything from translation to teaching us how to dance like a Ghanaian. We also worked with strong partners such as ONE, the Coca Cola Foundation, Unite for Sight and the University of Cape Coast.
Yamoransa is a poor town but proved to be a very rich experience. I can’t forget our Kenkey women hosts walking us back after my successful sale, insisting on buying us soft drinks that cost what some of these women make in a day. While I can only hope that we helped the community of Yamoransa in at least a small way, I’m thankful for the kindness they showed us and the personal bonds that were formed, despite all our differences. I can’t wait to go back next year.

Puneet Batra: Puneet continues his role with the YASC back in the States as Secretary of the YASC.  He will return to Ghana in 2013 as co-leader along with Lata Prabhakar.

Tannis Arnett's Interview with Darcy Pollack of One

What were your expectations for the partnership between ONE and YASC in Ghana?

Our hope was that by bringing ONE representatives on the trip with us, we could tap into the engagement our volunteers felt while in Ghana and encourage them to bring that passion home in way that could continue to have impact, specifically via advocacy. It is great when you are there, on the ground, and can actively help… but how do you continue to help when you get home? That’s where ONE comes in. The ONE Campaign is an advocacy network. They are not a fundraising organization; they are a “voice raising” organization. ONE sent four staffers on the trip with us: the U.S. Field Director, a regional Field Director, a policy expert and a trip logistics specialist. The idea was that they would (1) take us on local site visits so that we could see for ourselves programs that are having an impact on the ground, and (2) teach us about advocacy – what it means to advocate and how one does that. Our hope was that our volunteers would choose to continue their service by becoming members of ONE and advocating on behalf of the programs we saw on the ground -- programs that are changing people’s lives.

What were the highlights – what was your favourite activity/project?

As soon as I start to say one site visit or another was a highlight, I change my mind… they were all amazing! Perhaps most moving was meeting the cocoa farmers who are being advised by an NGO called Technoserv. Technoserv has helped them to navigate complex trade laws and certification requirements (like “Fair Trade” and “organic”), as well as provided them with much needed advice on fertilizers, pesticides and farming best practices. We saw one farm that was being helped by Technoserv, and it was so clean and prosperous. The farm across the road was not so lucky… they were not being aided by Technoserv, and it looked like a wild jungle. But the real difference? The farmers with Technoserv are making enough money to send their children to school… a first!

Was there a moment of illumination on the trip? Is there one big insight you gained from your experience? 

When we went to see a couple of the local fishing villages, it became apparent to me for the first time just how very complex the issues are that are facing these communities. This one village we visited had had six homes washed into the sea last year due to coastal erosion. And their fish stocks are being devastated by pollution and overfishing. You can’t just “solve” problems like these. It will truly take a global village to figure this out. That’s why we all need to be aware of how important U.S. funding is to programs like the Coastal Resources Center, which we saw doing phenomenal work in this village. That’s why we all need to be advocates!

How would you define sustainability?

Work that has a lasting impact.

How can this partnership be strengthened next year? What do you hope to achieve?

We hope that ONE will choose to join us again for our YASC trip to Ghana next summer… and that we can take even more people on these incredible site visits that they organize! There is no question in my mind… once you have seen these programs with your own eyes, you can’t help but work on their behalf. It is that powerful. My goal for next year? To encourage all our volunteers to become story tellers… to bear witness to the incredible work these programs do and in that way to advocate on their behalf!

Darcy Troy Pollack  A graduate of both Yale College and Harvard Business School, Darcy's career has spanned the investment banking and entertainment worlds at companies such as Goldman, Sachs & Co. Real Estate, Warner Brothers, United Talent Agency and Sony Retail Entertainment. Today Darcy focuses on entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures, including Bono’s ONE organization, and is an active volunteer with Yale, where she is currently serving in her second year as a member of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) Board of Governors and is Chair of the new “shared interest group” Yale Blue Green.

Tannis Arnett  A graduate of Yale’s Master of Religion in the Arts program, Tannis has worked as a Marketing and Communications professional at TVO, Ontario’s public broadcaster, for over ten years.  The trip to Ghana was her fourth service tour with YASC.  She is currently the Chair of YASC’s Communications Committee.

YASC 2013 Trips

Nicaragua, March 16-23: The Yale Alumni Service Corps invites you – alumni, family, and friends – to Trohilo, Nicaragua, a village near New Haven’s own sister city of Leon. This service trip, in partnership with the Yale School of Nursing, is an opportunity for you to serve on projects designed around your skills and interests – you can teach children in the village school, care for patients in the medical clinic, coach sports to eager young athletes, work on construction projects, or share your business skills with small business owners. You will work side by side with the people of Trohilo as they strive to improve the quality of their lives. You will build cross cultural understanding and make friends for life. They want to meet you!

West Virginia, June 26-30We are very excited to announce our first domestic service program in rural West Virginia. In partnership with the innovative program College Summit – founded by Yale alum J.B. Schramm ’86 – we will spend 4 days preparing high school students for college by tutoring them in essay writing, reviewing the college application process, and coaching them in leadership skills. We will live with the students – for many their first time away from home and from families who have never had the opportunity to attend college ‑ in dorms on the campuses of Marshall University in Huntington and West Virginia Institute of Technology in Montgomery.

Ghana, August 1-10: We did it! Last summer more than 150 alumni and their family and friends participated in a life changing – their lives and ours – service project in Yamoransa, Ghana, and the village wants us back! We invite you to serve this community and experience Ghanaian culture with your family and friends in a truly unique and inspiring manner.

Interested?  You can sign up by clicking here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

There is still room on the Nicaragua Trip in March

The Yale Alumni Service Corps has its next trip to to León, Nicaragua on March 16 - 23, 2013.

There are still spots available! Not many, but a few.  Sign up today by clicking here.

Join us as we inspire change and help a Central American community in need!!!

 Have you ever wanted to travel with a purpose and really get to know locals? Would you like to be part of a volunteer team that makes a difference in the lives of others? You can! This March, the Yale Alumni Service Corps, in partnership with the Yale School of Nursing, will connect a group of alumni, students, and friends of Yale with the community of Trohilo in León, Nicaragua. In this small marginal community, surrounded by sugar cane fields, our medical team will address acute care needs, conduct comprehensive visits for women and children, counsel for mental health & domestic violence, as well as promote health education. We also hope to make connections with children and leave lasting benefits by using our talents and energy to teach arts, computers, English, math and sports. Our construction team will work to build important amenities for the community including a library, school tables and goal posts as well as potentially renovating public buildings. No matter what your background or skill sets, if you have a passion for people and service, we have a need for you.