Celebration of Service

Stockton hosted the 3rd annual Celebration of Service on 17th April 2014. It was organized by the office of Service Learning. The event was organized to feature the service projects done students, clubs and academic departments from 2013-2014. It was held from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in the F-wing on campus.

I was expecting a large number of organizations and tables to be presenting and tabling for clubs. But there were not quite as many. There was on by Circle K, one by office of service learning and couple of other by other organizations.

I saw of my friends presenting at a table, so I stopped by to ask about what it was. She was presenting about a underwater robot they were making for a competition called sea perch. I had heard about the competition in high school, so was quite familiar with the idea. They also had a robot that they had made out on the table. It was made to work in water so all that would happen when you move the controller was it would make a large noise. She also explained how different groups would make different robots in her class.

The other tables didn’t have representatives, they merely had posters that displayed the money they raise, pictures of their service and other events they organized throughout the year. But there was no one to talk about their tasks and events they did.

I didn’t see a lot of students at the Celebration of Service. I thought there would a lots if clubs and organizations and it would resemble the Get Involved Fair. I was a bit disappointed. But again maybe because it was end of the semester, I guess I didn’t see a lot of students. It was non when I went there, so probably students were attending lectures and I didn’t them. I hope I can see more tables and organizations promoting next year, and get more insight into the services they have been doing.

Islam Awareness Week

Muslim Student Association (MSA) organized Islam Awareness Week at Stockton. It began from Tuesday, 15 April 2014 and lasted till 20 April 2014, and the students organizing the event did various activities to spread awareness about the Muslim community and Islamic religion.

I had read about the events around the campus on TV screens but didn’t think about attending their table. But on Thursday of the same week, when I was working at the tutoring center, my colleagues walked in with stuffed animals. They said a table was giving away stuffed animals just down the hallway. So, me and my other friends who were working decided to go and check. It turned out to be the MSA.

The MSA was promoting their event, they would interact with the students who would stop by their table and talk to them about their religion. They had free food and drinks. The best part about their table was the stuffed animals, but it wasn’t easy to get them. They would ask a basic question about their Islam and the right answer would get you a stuffed animal. Students were swarming around their table. Before one would leave the MSA representative would ask the student to write down one daily struggle on a piece of paper and they would stick it on a poster that read, “what is Jihad?”

One of my friends was a member of the MSA. I bumped into her the day after I went to the MSA table with stuffed animals. She told me they did other events earlier in the week as well and they were surprised by the large response as well. They did an event where they would show girls how to tie a hijab. The MSA did a great job in promoting and educating people about the Jihad they hear and see about on TV related to terrorism is not the only Jihad.

Stockton, is a very diverse school. When minorities organize events and spread awareness about their communities, unity in diversity is established. MSA worked really hard behind this event. The student representatives were studying for their finals and preparing for the table at the same time. It was a great initiative

Celebration Of Service

On April 17, Stockton held the Celebration of Service in F-wing.  The purpose of this was to have clubs and organizations on campus and even off campus show off the service projects they have done and the highlights of the projects.

I walked through F-wing around 12:30pm and I have to say I was pretty disappointed.  I thought there would be tons of tables set up with posters and fliers similar to that of the Get Involved Fair.  There were several tables set up but most of them were empty.  I only saw a few organizations and only one had a visual presentation.  On their poster they had an explanation of the service they did, pictures, and how much money they raised.  I definitely was surprised at how small the turnout was.

I think the idea of the Celebration of Service is fabulous.  The issue I see is getting people involved and excited about giving back to the community and then sharing what they have done.  I thought that it still could have been advertised a little bit better because it was like the Day of Scholarship was advertised.  I didn’t really know it was going on until I walked by.  This time I got an email about it so I was a little more prepared but I would have liked to see more projects presented.

I honestly think that it would be cool if the Honors Program had a table to display the service projects we do collectively, like volunteering at the animal shelter.  We always find some way to give back to the community that touches all of our hearts in some way and sparks passion in each of us.  Even though we don’t do one service project all year long, I think it would be a good start.  We’d be able to introduce service that we are passionate about and hopefully that would spark a desire for others to help out as well because it’s a good cause that most people feel the same way about.

Overall I think this is a great idea but I think it needs even more advertising to raise participation.  The idea of presenting what you have accomplished especially in terms of giving back is really spectacular but the participation isn’t there and I really wish it was.  It would be a great way to get involved in other service projects to continue to give back in not just one way but many.

Goo Goo Dolls Concert

On Friday night, April 11, Stockton Entertainment Team held a concert featuring the Goo Goo Dolls in the sports center.  The event started at 7:00 pm with a DJ and only got better from there.

After making it through security which was pretty tight I was definitely surprised, everyone piled into the sports center around the stage to wait for the band.  If you got there early, you got to hear the DJ.  If you didn’t, you certainly missed out because he was awesome!  He played some really up beat and popular music that was super easy to dance too.  Around 8:00 he stopped playing music and picked up to make room for the next band.

Twenty minutes later the next band came on stage.  I honestly don’t remember what they are called but I really didn’t like their music.  I’m pretty into heavy metal and harder versions of rock but to me, their music just sounded like noise and you couldn’t hear a word that came out of the singer’s mouth.  Based on what I could hear, they were the winners of the battle of the bands competition and much to the crowd’s dismay, they kept saying “thank you Stockton University” to which we all replied “we’re a college!”  Once they finally stopped playing, another twenty minute wait passed by and then it got good.

The next band on stage was called River Run North and they were amazing!  They had a more mellow style with violins and a mouth organ in addition to guitars and every time they opened their mouths it was like angels were singing.  They had amazing harmony and even though they had a mellow style, you could still dance along and have fun while listening to it.  They blew the entire audience out of the water and they were definitely worth the wait.

Another twenty minutes went by and then the Goo Goo Dolls came on and let’s be honest, that’s who we were all waiting for.  When they finally started singing it was awesome!  They were even better live than they are on recordings and they sang songs almost straight through an hour and a half.  It was totally worth the wait and for only $10 we got a lot for our money.  Of course, to end the concert, they sang Iris.  All the girls were swooning and even the guys were singing along and after a little bit of a push from the crowd, they did an encore.

This concert was totally worth the money (only $10) and SET did a fabulous job of putting it together.  If you missed it you should make it a point to go to the next concert because it was phenomenal.

Geology Trip!

On Saturday, April 12, some members of the geology class went on a field trip.  Where did they go?  Well, we went all along the Newark River Basin and up to the Lehigh Valley Gap to check out the geology in our area.

We left the school bright and early Saturday morning and drove for about an hour to our first stop.  At each stop we looked at the geology of the area including the rock classifications, the rock types, faults in the area, natural events, and the historical aspect of the area.  Each place we visited had its own history but connected to the others in some way.  It wasn’t easy to connect each place we visited to the last but with a little guidance from our professor we all got it.  It was really cool because we were using the information we learned in lecture and in lab out in the field to learn and connect the different forms of learning.  I really enjoyed the challenge it presented because it was like trying to solve a puzzle.

While all of the locations we went to were pretty cool, the best stop was at the Lehigh Valley Gap.  When we got there we walked down a trail that hugged the hills pretty tightly but the view of the valley was like nothing I have ever seen before.  We walked along the hills and looked at the geology of the land which of course was super cool especially considering how much I love rocks but nothing could beat the scenery.  It was absolutely breath taking.  We stayed there for a little over an hour talking about the changes through the hills and the way the land was formed.  We examined the rocks closely and learned about their history and why each section is how it is.  After talking for a while, we all took a bunch of pictures and then loaded back into the vans and headed to Stockton.

This trip was amazing!  I would recommend it to anyone who likes nature and especially anyone who is into rocks.  The variety of rock types and natural features that we saw was extraordinary!  However, if you just like nature I would recommend taking a trip to the Lehigh Valley Gap and walking the trails.  You will never see anything more beautiful.

Animal Shelter

Two service projects are required for honors students each semester. My first project was MLK Service day held at Stockton. For the second one I chose to go the Animal Shelter and help  them out. It was an honors service project. We visited the Animal Shelter on 12 April, 2014.

Surprisingly, all the students who decided to volunteer for the service project were girls. We left Stockton at 8:30 am for the Animal Shelter. After reaching there the lady who was in charge of the  shelter walked us around the location and explained the things she wanted us to do. She needed us to work both inside and outside the shelter house. So we split up in groups. I chose to stay inside.

The group inside had to clean all the doors and glasses of the shelter house. It didn’t take us too long to do that. Our team was very fast and efficient. Also, the group outside was done with picking up trash and dog feces around the shelter house. We were done very quickly with that. Then we didn’t have anything to do. All the volunteers had to sit around for about 30 minutes  and wait. After that, we were assigned easy tasks like, collecting trash from all the trash cans in the center, do laundry, fill up cat litter boxes etc. But again we were done with all that very quickly. Volunteers had lots of free time at the shelter house as there wasn’t much to do early in the morning.

But then at noon, we had to feed all the cats. That was the best part of the activity. Some cats were very friendly – would jump on the volunteers as soon they opened the box – and some were very shy – they would go to the corner of  box. It was extremely enjoyable feeding and playing with the cats and kittens.

One of the last things we had to do before we leave was to mop the front hall and clean the bathrooms. Team work was very important for all the projects, and we worked very efficiently as a team and got done with everything very quickly.  All the volunteers did their part and completed all the assigned tasks. We took a group picture at the end and headed back for Stockton.  Also, all the employees working there very thankful and pleased with our service.

Trip to Washington

On March 29 2014, Honors: Inventing the Past by Prof. Hayse and the Sixties class by John o’hara went on a trip to the Washington D.C. to explore The Mall. It was an educational trip to see the monuments that had been discussed in both the classes. The trip would have been more interesting and worthwhile ii it wasn’t raining in D.C. the whole day.

Both the classes along with Lorraine O’Flaherty,  Education Assistant of the Honors program boarded the bus from the campus at 8:30 am. Prof. Hayse and Prof. John boarded the bus at our first halt, about one hour and thirty minutes away from Stockton. Prof. Hayse bought donuts for everyone, which boosted everyone up. From there it was straight to Union Station in D.C. It took us about four hours to reach the Union Station at D.C. We had our lunch at the Union Station and then we left for the monuments.

It was pouring in D.C. We were in the bus for most of the time. And when we got off the bus to actually visit the monuments and memorials everyone was soaking wet. The students from my class (inventing the past) had small presentations for each of the memorials we were going to walk around. But as it was raining outside, some presentation had to be done in the bus itself. At the same time some students had to present outside too.

The memorial that amazed everyone was the Lincoln memorial, (not only because it provided shade from the rain)  but the monument was huge. Lincoln’s statue and his two famous speeches Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address. Also, as the monument is seen in some of the movies like Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian and  X-Men: First Class. The grandiosity and popularity of the monument exited everyone.

Finally, after covering most of the memorials  at The Mall, we finally departed from D.C. for Stockton at about 4:00 pm. Everyone was  very exhausted by the 8 hour bus travel and the walking around  D.C. in pouring rain.  The trip could have been better if more than an hour and half was spent walking around looking at memorials and the rain was not the ruining factor.


Volunteering Over Seas

On April 7, Dr. Michele Barrett-Ross came to the Honors: The Global Community class to give a presentation on volunteering in Tanzania.  Inspired by the move “Jane Goodall: My Life with Chimpanzees,” a National Geographic film, she spoke about her experience and the impact it made not only on the community but on her as well.

She explained that she has wanted to go to Tanzania since she saw the Jane Goodall film and it was not a dream she was going to give up on.  So, while she was in graduate school, she decided that she would take the time to go while she was in grade school, she decided that she would take the time to go while she still had it.  After doing some serious research, she came across an organization entitled Global Volunteers who “engage in respectful, direct community service.”  She decided then and there that she would go, this organization was exactly what she was looking for.

Once there, each volunteer was assigned a project to work on with the local people.  Hers was construction.  She said that while construction is not exactly her strong suit, she learned quickly and the experience was something she wouldn’t have had any other way.

When she finished presenting, question like “what is our biggest misconception about their culture and way of life” and “if you could go back, would you” were asked.  She answered each one honestly and completely.  We have many misconceptions about them, they aren’t waiting for a hand out like you see in all those commercials on television.  However, they’re waiting for a hand up.  They recognize that their country is less developed than our own but struggle to answer why that is.  Thinking about it, there isn’t an answer as to why.  Many things could be contributors but who knows the real reason?  Even though they don’t have the kind of technology and things we have, she said she’d love to go back.

To conclude, she explained that there is controversy over whether or not her actions are beneficial to the community she volunteered in.  While we think she has done good, the idea that the people of the culture could do it better, faster, and more efficiently is present.  There is also the concern of U.S. Citizens pushing themselves on other cultures without their desire or need for our help.  We think we can and are helping them but the question becomes what if they don’t want our help?

Overall this was a remarkable experience.  Being able to hear about another culture and see pictures of the country as it is naturally rather than the complete worst case scenario was fascinating.  While they don’t have technology like us, they aren’t exactly doing horribly.  Their homes are brick and small but sturdy.  They are healthy and functioning just like us.  They seem to be content even though there are changes they may wish to be made just like in any other country among other citizens.  This presentation also gave me insight into the effects, both positive and negative, of globalization.  Globalization truly affects us all in every aspect of our lives.

Day of Scholarship

            The 14th Annual Day of Scholarship was organized by the Grants Office on March 19th and 20th 2014. The event wasn’t advertised that well but I happen to know about it from Stockton’s Honors page.

            The event had presenters (who were students and faculty at Stockton), who would present for 30 minutes on their respective topics. I couldn’t go on the first day so went to the event on 20th March at 11:30 pm. It was a presentation on Guantanamo Bay Detainees & Predictors of their Release by Susan Fahey, who had done a paper on that topic. All the students who attended that presentation were  either a criminal justice major  or communication major, so being a Biochemistry major I felt a bit weird. But apparently I learned a lot about Guantanamo Bay (GTMO).

Being one of the two persons in the room who had no prior knowledge about (GTMO), Fahey introduced the GTMO. GTMO is a naval base in Cuba which is used by US as a detention facility. The government doesn’t share information about the detainees detained at the GTMO. As of January 2002 (when the GTMO started as a prison) there were about 779 prisons in there. Most of the detainees are from Afghanistan or Al Qaeda. There are also prisoners from the Iraq War.

About 150 prisons are still left in the dentition center today. These people are considered to be very dangerous to be released. These are all high value detainees who supposedly have a lot of information that can be used by U.S. officials for the country’s security. The main controversy behind releasing these detainees is that, if they return to their respective countries the likelihood of them being attacked by other fellow citizens is very high. Also, all these detainees have been in prison for a very long time, so they have lost contact with their families. Also, the detainees who are detained in the facility are not guaranteed to be involved in a terrorist activity.

Also, the risk factor of these detainees was determined on how dangerous they are too the U.S. and its allies. Information about all the detainees was relapsed was by the N.Y.T. The newspaper strongly claims that they didn’t obtain the information from the wiki leaks. But, there is no proof showing that the information they published was leaked through wiki leaks. So, Fahey said the credibility of the data available for the GTMO detainees available is cannot be trusted blindly.

In that 30 minutes presentation, I learned a lot about the GTMO. When I walked in the room for the presentation I had no idea about the subject being presentation, but after presentation I obtained a lot of new information. In all it was good presentation, I wished I could go to more of the presentations but due to time clashes I couldn’t.

MLK Day Celebration

Spring semester of 2014  a.k.a second semester at Stockton begun with the celebration of 10th Annual MLK Day. Just like the fall semester, services were offered to the community by the students of Stockton on The Day of Service. The MLK Day was celebrated on 20th January, 2014 and it was organized by the Office of Service Learning.

 Stockton always wants its students to grow socially too. So the services being offered on the Day of Service were not limited to the campus. Four other locations were also offered outside the campus. The event started with motivational speeches by President Saatkamp and other invited guests.

I preferred to stick to the campus for the MLK service Day. Me and my other two friends decided to volunteer for the same service. So, I and Ziwei were signed in with the members of senate by Haleigh. We had to spent the day with girls scouts, touring them around the campus and giving them a glimpse into the college life. We were expecting girls to be 12+ years old, but the girls who came where all younger than five.

As they were all very young we started playing fun games with the girls to keep them engaged and busy. But, then we found out that the girls (all who were five and below) were supposed to be with art club, and a group of older girls (as we had expected) were arriving within next 30 minutes. So, the day of Service started with a little bit of chaos I would say.

After the older girls arrived, we started the program. All the volunteers and girls scouts played games, which even grabbed the attention of the news report who was there to cover the MLK Day celebration. We then toured the girls around the campus and then the senate members presented a presentation on college life. After all that the girls scouts had a service project to do too. They had to make blankets for animals of animal shelter. All the volunteers and the girls scouts members sat around to gather and made the blankets. After that girls scouts left with goodies from Stockton and the volunteers had a reflection session. Everyone agreed that they had a good time.

 It was fun day and fresh start of the semester with two of friends. And also, meeting new people (the senate members) was another plus point of the service.