An alternative spring break

By Brandon Bieltz and video by Carly Swain, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Sally-Irene Ngeve could have spent her spring break almost anywhere.

But the Carolina senior chose not to relax on a beach all week, wander around a quieter Chapel Hill or head back home to Cameroon to visit her family.

Instead, she spent her time off providing much-needed assistance to the people of Robeson County — a rural community that has struggled with unemployment, homelessness and hunger for the past six decades.

“Helping is my passion,” Ngeve said. “I love helping. I’ll do anything to just help the next person.”

Ngeve was just one of the hundreds of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students who used their spring break to help needy communities within the state, throughout the nation and around the world.

2016 ASB Robeson County CaptureFive of those alternative spring break trips — including the one to Robeson County — came from the Critical Approaches to Service Learning course in the Carolina Center for Public Service’s APPLES Service-Learning program, which sends students out into various communities to see firsthand the wide range of issues impacting citizens.

“Students go into this initially wanting to really help the community and wanting to do good,” said Eyerusalem Tessema, a graduate instructor of Critical Approaches to Service-Learning. “Through the class and the trip, they realize that this is really a learning experience for them, and whatever they do is going to be really small. They will do service, but I think its more of engaging in the community and learning things from their perspectives and not just taking whatever you read.”

For the class, students were divided into five different trips that focused on civil rights in Birmingham; disaster relief in Georgetown, South Carolina; Latino communities throughout North Carolina; rural communities in Robeson County; and urban communities in Atlanta.

Students then visited community centers, met with local leaders and immersed themselves in the communities through service projects to better understand the economic and social factors affecting residents.

For Ngeve and her group in Robeson, that meant closely working with the Lumbee tribe and learning to navigate a rural community that is split evenly between white, black and Native American citizens.

“Robeson County is home, and it’s growing, but some of the issues are still the same as they were when this center started in 1969,” said Darlene Jacobs, executive director at Robeson County Church and Community Center. “The issue of hunger is even more, homelessness has grown, unemployment is higher than the state’s, 56 percent of our children are living in single-parent homes, and the number one industry is welfare. There are a lot of issues here.”

The Carolina students began the trip with ideas of what could be fixed and who needed help, but they quickly learned that their preconceived notions of the area didn’t align with the truth.

While presenting college readiness programs to high school students, it became clear that although the towns have their struggles, the idea of moving away isn’t an option — or desire — for many of the youngsters.

“The community is incredibly close knit,” said Dylan Cohen, student-leader of the trip to Robeson County. “Because it’s such a close-knit community, people don’t feel they need to leave. The argument we were planning on making of ‘Here’s how you can go to a nice big city and make a whole lot of money’ is not what they wanted to hear. They want to hear how to make it work here in their hometown.”

As the week went on, the group began to better understand the community and its actual needs versus its perceived needs. A common concern of residents, Cohen said, was diabetes and childhood obesity.

“Their access to healthy food is abysmal,” he said. “Access to healthy local food is not feasible, and with that comes a lot of health issues.”

After returning to Chapel Hill, students will use their experiences from the trips to develop plans to solve the real, complex problems they saw. But the groups also made sure to care for some short-term issues while they were out in the communities.

“The students are wonderful,” Jacobs said. “They are out doing what we would do ourselves but we can’t. They’re our hands and feet in the community. It’s a win-win for so many people — not only for us, but also for the client, as well as for themselves. I think it’s a really powerful statement to be able to go out into the community and make a difference in their lives.”

In Robeson County, the group of students spent a full day building a wheelchair ramp for Anne McNabb, a local resident that had spent the past four months away from home recovering from a broken leg. Without the ramp, McNabb wouldn’t have been able to come home.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing,” McNabb said. “It teaches them a lot about life and shows that they care about people. A lot of people aren’t that way today. It uplifts me.”

At the end of the day, Cohen said, making sure people like McNabb received the help they needed was more important than any other spring break trip the group could have taken.

“What’s valuable for this group of students and for myself, we take a lot more joy out of providing joy to other people than to maybe going to see something new ourselves,” he said.

2016 APPLES Service-Learning Award recipients honored

By Janell Smith

Each year, APPLES presents the APPLES Service-Learning Awards is to celebrate those who sustain service-learning at UNC.

2016 APPLES awards recipientsFour individuals, Luis Acosta, Sarah Dempsey, Alexandra Zagbayou and Mae B. McLendon, and one community partner, and Farmer Foodshare, were recognized at the annual APPLES Service-Learning Award Brunch for their on-going efforts to connect academic and service-based pursuits through their involvement with APPLES.

Leslie Parkins, senior program officer at the Carolina Center for Public Service, said the five APPLES Award recipients have made significant contributions to service-learning and support to APPLES.
“I think it is very important to recognize these individuals, how they’re shaping the community and building strong organizations and being the change we want to see in the world,” Parkins said.

“They continue to build a strong foundation for service-learning at Carolina that challenges all to do better every year. Their involvement, along with the University’s commitment, will ensure that APPLES continues to connect with communities for years to come.”

cropped Luis Acosta awardLuis Acosta – Undergraduate Excellence Award
Luis Acosta, a junior Chemistry and Global Studies major, received the Undergraduate Excellence Award for his involvement in the S.O.A.R. program at McDougle Middle School. For three years, Acosta has brought science-based opportunities to Latino students through his work with S.O.A.R.

When accepting his award, Acosta emphasized the importance of giving back to the community, especially to younger children. “I am really involved in the Boys and Girls Club back home,” he said. “The impact that we, as older people, have on kids is tremendous.”

Sarah Dempsey – Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Sarah Dempsey, associate professor in the Department of Communication, was honored for her excellence in teaching service-learning courses. Since 2011, Dempsey’s service-learning courses Communication and Nonprofits and Globalizing Organizations have been offered six times and have partnered with the Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG).

Dempsey said receiving the Teaching Excellence Award was a huge honor. “Doing engaged scholarship with my students is one of the most rewarding things that I do.”

Mae B. McLendon – Service-Learning Award in honor of Ned Brooks
Mae B. McLendon was awarded for her career of public service in both government and community-based organizations. McLendon serves as the volunteer services coordinator at Durham County Cooperative Extension, and has worked with the North Carolina Department of Correction, the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC), Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.

McLendon received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UNC in 1973 and a master’s degree in social work in 1977. During the course of her career, she has worked with APPLES service-learning students and interns in nearly each position she held.

Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service, presented McLendon the award on the behalf of Ned Brooks.

“Aristotle says, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.’ For Mae McLendon, she has made more than just a habit of public service, but a lifelong career of excellence in bettering the community,” Blanchard said about McLendon.

Cropped Alex Zagbayou awardAlexandra Zagbayou – Outstanding Alumni Award
Alexandra Zagbayou graduated from UNC in 2009 with a degree in International Studies and minor in Social and Economic Justice. Since graduation, she has worked with Student U, a college access and success program in Durham. She is the founding director of the high School program and currently serves as the chief program officer.

Zagbayou was recognized for her efforts surrounding sustainable partnerships, student leadership and equity and access in education. She has stayed connected to APPLES through service on the advisory board, as an alumni speaker and supporter of this work.

At the awards brunch, Zagbayou shared what APPLES taught her over the years: how to work with the community, the power of voice and agency and the importance of investment in people.

“One of the reasons I really love APPLES is the amount of care that is poured into the lives of its students, which then overflows into the community that they care about,” Zagbayou said.

Robyn Fehrman presented the Outstanding Alumni Award to Zagbayou. “Her contributions to her community will continue and they certainly started as an APPLES organizer.”

Farmer Foodshare – Community Partner Excellence Award
Farmer Foodshare creates paths to food independence for food insecure and malnourished North Carolinians. The organization provides fresh, local food to food insecure community members while building healthy community food systems and enhancing community economic development through job creation in food enterprises.

Farmer Foodshare was honored because of its long-standing partnership with APPLES, hosting interns and volunteers from service-learning courses since 2012. This sustained partnership has provided students with meaningful learning opportunities that impact the community through food systems.

Maggie West, program coordinator at Community Empowerment Fund and the recipient of the 2015 APPLES’ Community Partner Excellence Award, presented the award to Farmer Foodshare.

She said the ripples of the service-learning go beyond Carolina and impact every part of people’s lives. “The ripples of this work never cease.”

APPLES service-learning class and volunteer doulas partner on better births

An APPLES service-learning class at Carolina partners with volunteer doulas at N.C. Women’s Hospital to enhance students’ educational experiences and better serve women delivering babies at UNC.

From UNC Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Joya Bland’s dream is to deliver babies.

A recent Carolina graduate, she’s getting a master’s degree in physiology at N.C. State and preparing to apply to medical school. After that, she’ll seek a residency in obstetrics and gynecology.

And though there are years between Bland and those babies, she’s no stranger to what a birthing mother needs. As a volunteer doula at UNC Hospitals, Bland has supported women through 12 hours of nonstop labor, held their hands through contractions and explained increasingly intense stages of labor with words of comfort and encouragement.

Learning how to dial into the patient side of childbirth before becoming a physician was Bland’s mission when, as a women’s and gender studies major at UNC in 2014, she signed up for an innovative APPLES service-learning class at the UNC School of Nursing that matches volunteer doulas at UNC Hospitals with Carolina students to offer a unique experience in patient-centered care.

lam_bland_450.jpg

Having the opportunity to attend births as part of her undergraduate curriculum is something Bland describes as “life-enhancing.”

For the first birth Bland attended as a student, she stepped in for the last 12 hours of a labor already 36 hours long. By the time Bland entered the room, the mother was tired and weary, exhausted and worried. The family needed support, too.

“While the doctor and nurse treated her, I was there to remind her that she was doing fine, to help her change position in bed, breathe with her, help her get comfortable and encourage her to rest so she would have strength to push,” said Bland. “I didn’t leave her side. I kept reminding her that soon she’d be holding her baby, and I helped her keep going.”

A unique model of education and care

Birth doulas aren’t clinicians – they are professionally trained birth companions who can offer physical and emotional support to the woman laboring and her family. Their presence can help women cope with pain, provide non-medical assistance to the mother and her family and take some of the burden off nurses who are providing treatment and might not have time to stop and soothe.

Doulas provide educational and emotional support during labor and birth, helping mothers navigate their way through the unique experience of childbirth. They offer suggestions to help labor progress – walking, the use of a birthing ball, relaxing in the tub. If the patient has had an epidural, a doula can help her change position to help the baby move down the birth canal.

And, at N.C. Women’s Hospital, laboring women can benefit from the support and care of a doula free of charge, courtesy of the Birth Partners volunteer doula program. More and more women are choosing to request their support.

“Not a lot of hospitals have this. It’s pretty unique to have doulas in a public hospital environment,” said Rhonda Lanning, a certified nurse midwife and faculty member at the School of Nursing who runs Birth Partners, the growing volunteer doula program, and teaches “Supporting the Childbearing Family,” the APPLES service-learning course that brings together the doulas and students for an immersive hands-on educational experience. “This fall we tripled the number of families served in the Birth Partners program and this is largely due to our service-learning course.”

The class, made possible with a grant from the Carolina Center for Public Service, is offered once a year, and Lanning accepts between 12 and 16 students from a pool of nearly 60 applications. She builds the class with a diversity of academic disciplines, backgrounds, interests and experiences and spends the first few weeks of class on childbirth and breastfeeding education as well as formal doula training. When they’re ready, students are paired with one of the volunteer doulas and work under that mentor to begin attending births. As part of the APPLES requirements, the students must put in 30 hours of service as a volunteer.

brooklynne_rachel_web.jpg

Brooklynne Travis is a senior in the School of Nursing who plans on pursuing training in a dual doctor of nursing practice and certified nurse midwife program following graduation in May 2016. She said Lanning’s class this past fall helped her focus her career goals by allowing her to explore how she felt about childbirth.

“This class was a great way for me to engage more specifically in women’s health in addition to the other maternity classes I took in nursing school,” said Travis. “It was a very good hands-on experience and helped me formulate concretely what I felt about birth and learn about birth from an evidence-based perspective.”

Travis has three children of her own and said that she’d not had positive birth experiences. By being a doula, she got a chance to see women’s bodies at work, something she said was healing for her and helped solidified her passion to become a midwife.

“Midwifery supports women’s bodies to do what they are designed to do, and being empowered to let your body do what it is designed to do is what I believe about birth. I was able to see that we can support and help advance that birth process as a doula in the hospital where, if there is a problem, modern medicine can very quickly come to the rescue.”

During one birth she attended as part of the class, Travis noticed fear in the husband’s eyes after his wife’s water had broken. She was able to calm him, telling him that the water breaking was a good sign – his wife’s body was progressing the way it should, and though it was intense, he didn’t need to be scared.

“Through this class, I’ve been able to see birth as something that is very hard, but can be very beautiful. I’d never experienced a peaceful birth until I was a doula,” said Travis. “Being a doula has given me back a lot of perspective, and now I know midwifery is what I’m called to do.”

Benefits based in evidence

People have undervalued the measures doulas provide, said Lanning, even though research shows that the use of a doula has clear benefits for families during childbirth and after, with no known risks.

A 2013 review published in The Cochrane Library revealed that women who have support from a companion who is neither a member of the hospital staff nor a friend or family member are less likely to have a cesarean section, use synthetic oxytocin to speed labor, use pain medication or report a negative childbirth experience than women who labor alone.

Birth Partners makes it part of their mission to reach out to vulnerable populations: women who are laboring alone, women with a long hospital stay prior to birth, women experiencing a loss or the incarcerated.

“Incarcerated women are giving birth alone, and they deserve that care,” said Lanning. Lanning has a letter from the Department of Corrections that affirms Birth Partners’ goal to offer that support to incarcerated women.

Lanning said there are always pros and cons with bringing students into a volunteer program, because they come and they go. But, “they come with such enthusiasm, passion, energy and optimism,” she said.

“This is an opportunity for future health care providers to think about the patient care environment and work with patients and families to provide comfort and support and education, which often takes a back seat to diagnosing, treating and medicating. Here, they really get the value of patient-centered care, and we hope they take that back to their medical or nursing school experiences.”

APPLES participant receives Campus Compact outstanding leadership and service award

By Janell Smith

Jose Cisneros Campus Compact 151107awards123Nearly 100 students and staff from more than 20 campuses across North Carolina came together to celebrate the impact of 21 civically-engaged students.

Among the 21 students honored was APPLES Service-Learning participant José Cisneros ‘17.

“University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill junior José Cisneros has been recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to community engagement,” said Chad Fogleman, assistant director of North Carolina Campus Compact.

Cisneros was recognized for his tireless efforts to improve the opportunities of Latinos.

He recently spent his summer as a government relations intern at Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) through the APPLES Internship program, coordinating lobbying events and meetings with North Carolina state legislators where he and others advocated for the rights farmworkers and undocumented students.

In spring 2015, Cisneros also participated in the APPLES Global Guanajuato course and alternative spring break experience through which he researched and worked with migrants in North Carolina and migrants’ home communities in Guanajuato, Mexico.

In addition to his involvement with APPLES, Cisneros serves as site and program coordinator with the Scholars Latino Initiative, a university-based program that empowers the next generation of Latina/o leaders by promoting academic excellence and social responsibility.

“Through his example, he has also inspired his peers to become mentors who, like Cisneros, serve mentees with dedication and compassion,” said Fogleman.

Cisneros added that his passion for service was inspired by his own personal connections.

“The lessons I’ve learned and the people I’ve [met] have certainly left a mark on me, and I want to continue to work for a better, more equal society.”

APPLES alumnus makes service a career

By Janell Smith

SLI 2015 George (Heavenly Groceries) and Jamie DorrierMost students at Carolina graduate with some type of public service having been part of their undergraduate experiences and nearly half of UNC-CH’s seniors (47 percent) reported participation in service-learning. Sometimes that service is not only an act but a way of life. For George Barrett ’14, an APPLES Service-Learning alumnus and current associate director of Organizing and Advocacy at the Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, service to others is a trait that runs blood deep.

“Serving is an action that has been instilled in me from birth,” Barrett said. “My mother is the epitome of an individual with a servant’s heart.

“My passion comes from steadfast inspiration and guidance from watching her live her life.”

Barrett admires his mother for her service-oriented life and seems to have inherited that same altruistic spirit. Since graduating from UNC-CH with a degree in anthropology, Barrett has dedicated his career to meaningful service and engagement with communities in North Carolina through working with the Jackson Center, a public history and community development center located in the Northside neighborhood in Chapel Hill. The Jackson Center honors, renews and rebuilds communities in the historic Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods. It was through an APPLES service-learning course that Barrett’s desire to work full-time with the Jackson Center was born.

“I was connected to the Carolina Center for Public Service through an APPLES service-learning course [I took during] my senior year,” he said. “UNITAS was a year-long course that provided a social justice education with an ethnographic, participatory learning base.

“During the second semester, students were required to do a service-learning project at a community organization. This pipeline is how I came to the Jackson Center and eventually to the Northside family.”

Barrett’s work with the Jackson Center fosters engagement across local communities, including the place where his involvement started: the APPLES Service-Learning program.

In August, Barrett hosted at the Jackson Center a group of first-year students participating in APPLES Service-Learning Initiative (SLI). SLI participants and site leaders engage in a wide range of service activities: working to address food scarcity at Heavenly Groceries, supporting the Jackson Center Oral History Trust, writing and distributing the Northside News to more than 800 households in Northside and Pine Knolls, and aiding the neighborhood housing retention efforts through Home Repair projects such as A Brush With Kindness through Habitat for Humanity.

Barrett said these type of cross-cultural, inter-generational service opportunities promote good work and a better sense of community.

“Students at UNC are extraordinary,” he said. “I consistently tell my friends from my home town of Charlotte that UNC is this weird place were the extraordinary is the ordinary.”

Barret is part of a long history where the University and community come together in a tradition of service. By participating in Carolina Center for Public Service programs, he hopes students gain a perspective outside of themselves.

“I hope they gain history,” he said. “I hope they gain the tools to look outside of themselves in order to see the world around them. I hope they gain love from the community. I hope they gain wisdom from the community. I hope they gain a community.

“My mom has always told me God puts people on this earth for a reason. I feel like my reason and role is to help other people.”

APPLES/BPSS alumna finds herself in service

By Janell Smith

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

This famous quote from Mahatma Ghandi is one that the APPLES Service-Learning program cherishes. It’s quoted often, it’s read aloud during moments of reflection, and it’s even been printed on APPLES T-shirts.

For some students, like UNC alumna Corinne Goudreault ’15, it has become a quote to live by.

Goudreault Corinne 3Goudreault, who was involved in a number of organizations including Relay For Life, Impact NC, the Community Empowerment Fund, Phi Beta Kappa, the Campus Y and HOPE, said that her commitment to public service during her time at UNC made a huge difference in her college experience.

“During my four years at Carolina, I was involved in the APPLES Service-Learning and Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS) programs through the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS),” she said.

“In fact, as a first-year student, I participated in the APPLES Service-Learning Initiative (SLI) before classes even started.”

Participating in SLI before the start of her first-year not only exposed Goudreault to APPLES, BPSS and CCPS, but it completely transformed her Carolina experience.

“Through these programs I was able to track the service I did, interact with other students who were passionate about service, and learn traditional classroom material in experiential and service-oriented ways.”

Goudreault took the Center’s philanthropy course, received a paid APPLES service-learning internship with Farmer Foodshare, co-chaired the Campus Y’s Homeless Outreach Poverty Eradication (HOPE) committee and volunteered with the Community Empowerment Fund.

Goudreault said that it was this exposure to public service and engagement that led her to pursue a career in philanthropy which ultimately led her to her first job with the Weissberg Foundation, a philanthropic, family foundation in Washington, D.C.

“I believe the concrete and hands-on knowledge I gained from a philanthropic service-learning course I took through the BPSS program landed me this position. I never really understood that I could actually work in philanthropy before I took the course, but the Center continually made unimaginable opportunities a reality for me.”

During her time at UNC, Goudreault immersed herself in the University’s spirit of public service and allowed that spirit of service to help determine her future after Carolina.

But it did more than that. It also instilled in Goudreault the desire to ensure that future Tar Heels who are passionate about service have the same opportunities to participate in unique, real-life experiences in public service through courses, fellowships, internships and so much more.

“I symbolically invested $20.15 to the Center and plan to continue to invest in its programs,” she said.

“The opportunities I gained from the Carolina Center for Public Service have made me a socially-engaged citizen which will define me for the rest of my life. It’s what made my decision to donate such an easy one, and why I hope others will help to sustain these incredible programs for many years to come.

“Connecting academic learning and public service enhances the educational experience, helping students to positively impact the community. I will be forever grateful to the Center for connecting me and my community, and of course, for helping me get an awesome job!”

APPLES students serve communities during fall break

By Janell Smith

There’s a saying that goes, “If you want to make a difference, be different.”

SLI AFB 2015 clothes racksWhile most students went home, cheered on the Tar Heels at Kenan Memorial Stadium or enjoyed an assortment of fried foods at the North Carolina State Fair, a select group of students spent their fall break differently than their peers. Seventy students spent their fall breaks serving communities across North Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic.

Each fall, the APPLES Service-Learning program offers student-led Alternative Fall Break (AFB) experiences. Fifty-eight students and 12 student leaders dedicated their breaks to doing service in six focus areas: Urban Communities, Latino Communities, Rural Communities, Environmental Issues, Arts in Public Service and Service-Learning Initiative.

“Most students use their fall break to catch up on sleep,” said Jill Levinson, a sophomore participant on the Latino Communities AFB. “I did not get to do that, but my tiredness is different now. With APPLES Alternative Fall Break I learned about all the issues facing Latino communities, what’s being done about them and how I can get involved.”

“Hand me a coffee, because I may never catch up on my sleep.”

AFB 2015 latino issuesThe 12 students on the Latino Communities experience had the opportunity to learn and serve communities through El Pueblo, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the Latino community and promoting cross-cultural understanding, and Student Action with Farmworkers during their experience in Newton Grove, North Carolina.

The Rural Community break went to Pembroke, North Carolina and visited with the Hawkeye Indian Cultural Center and served in a variety of educational and health settings. Both the Arts in Public Service and Service-Learning experiences went to Asheville, North Carolina. Through the Arts in Public Service experience, participants served with Asheville BookWorks, Our VOICE, Montford Park Players and The Mandorla. Students on the Environmental Issues break experience went to the Outer Banks where they cleaned the beach shoreline and visited the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

The Urban Community experience was the only experience where students traveled outside of the state. The group of 12 went to Washington, D.C. While at the nation’s capital, they served at local elementary and high schools and community centers like the Perry School Community Service Center.

Environmental issues 2015 AFBParticipants returned from their alternative break experiences with a renewed understanding of service and community engagement.

“My Alternative Fall Break trip with APPLES was unforgettable and a rewarding experience,” said Ashley Jiron, a junior who participated in the Latino Communities AFB. “If I could replay this past weekend, I would because it was so impactful.”

Student leaders hone skills through Outward Bound

OB_SG_group 2015By Janell Smith

Every year, the University’s student government brings together leaders from across campus to participate in an abbreviated wilderness experience through the North Carolina Outward Bound School. Supported through the Carolina Center for Public Service and offered through the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, seven UNC students spent four days in the Blue Ridge Mountains this past summer where they had the opportunity to connect with other campus leaders and to grow in their roles as leaders within their organizations.

Buckley Public Service Scholar participants Daniel Irvin ‘16, APPLES vice president, and Lindsey Holbrook ‘16, APPLES Alternative Spring Break (ASB) co-chair, joined some of the University’s top student leaders for the experience: Houston Summers ‘16, UNC student body president; Vishal Reddy ‘16, Campus Y co-president; Cecilia Polanco ‘16 Student Government Executive Branch senior adviser; Jeremy McKellar ‘16, Black Student Movement president; and Treasure Williams ‘18 of the Carolina Global Initiative.

“It was a chance outside of the typical campus environment to meet other student leaders who are doing different but similar things,” Irvin said.

During the Outward Bound experience, each of these participants endured extreme physical challenges — from scaling a sheer rock face to solo excursions in the wilderness.

OB_SG_Irvin“I really appreciated the (opportunity),” Irvin said, “because I had to push myself to my physical limits to successfully climb the hardest routes.

“I think everyone in our group had similar experiences, whether with the rock climbing or on one of the other days where we participated in other intense physical activities. I think this gave us a new form of self-confidence, as we learned to push beyond our tiredness and accomplish our goals.”

But the Outward Bound experience did something else.

The group worked together during the day to get through physical activities, and at night and other appointed times, they talked about their different organizations and how to be better leaders for the University as a whole. Every night the group of seven had round table discussions and reflections about the day’s activities.

“I cherished the opportunity to get to know students that are involved with — and lead — other organizations. It’s not often that leaders at this University have the chance to do that,” Irvin said.

It was important for APPLES to be at this Outward Bound experience because of the variety of programs it offers and because of its role as a student-led, staff-supported program, Irvin added.
“One cool thing about APPLES is that we are connected to the University’s administration because we work so closely with the Carolina Center for Public Service,” Irvin said. “APPLES has a lot of resources and opportunities for students because we are part of a more formal institution.

Reflecting on his Outward Bound experience, Irvin said, “I hope to use what I learned from (the student leaders) in my work with APPLES this year. This experience was particularly valuable because we now know each oOB_SG_SummersMcKellarIrvinther and are friends with each other. Furthermore, we have the ability to use these connections to collaborate on events, talk to each other about programs and reach more students in new ways throughout the year. Even if we do not plan to hold any events together, the simple fact that we are now connected means that our existing programs and work can be stronger.”

With a new academic year underway, this goal of connecting and working with other leaders has already been accomplished. Irvin needed help from the Campus Y, and McKellarhad several leaders come to BSM’s annual inaugural meeting.

“The fact that we went through such an intense but rewarding week together means that we have a connection now that will bring us together throughout the year,” Irvin said.

The Carolina Center for Public Service also offers 13 scholarships to the North Carolina Outward Bound School 28-day course. Current participants in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, Carolina Leadership Development or students in the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill are eligible for these scholarships.

First-Year students immersed in service through SLI

SLI 2015 CCCGIn the days before classes began in the fall of 2003, 11 UNC first-year students gathered for a day of service work in the Chapel Hill community. Twelve years later, the Service-Learning Initiative (SLI) continues to make an impact on the community.

With the largest SLI to date, 60 first-year and transfer students worked with eight community partners from Aug. 12-14 doing everything from working on the trails at Battle Park to harvesting tomatoes and planting kale at Anathoth Community Garden.

Offered through the APPLES Service-Learning program and part of the Carolina Center for Public Service, SLI is a unique student-led orientation to service-learning that provides incoming first-year and transfer students with an immersive introduction to the array of service opportunities in and around Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Each year, over three days in the week before classes start, participants learn about and work with APPLES community partners, become more aware of local issues, form lasting friendships with other engaged students and are introduced to reflection as a tool for making meaning out of service experiences.

SLI 2015 George (Heavenly Groceries) and Jamie Dorrier“I wanted to participate in [SLI] because it seemed like a great opportunity to connect to the Carolina community before college even started,” said Jamie Dorrier, a first-year student from Raleigh, North Carolina. “I was also excited for the opportunity to meet new people at SLI with whom I shared a common interest of service. I am hoping that the service I participate in, whether through SLI or later in my college career, will help me give back to the Carolina community.”

Mirroring the University’s new theme “Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives,” which focuses on resolving food issues throughout the world and kicks off this month, this year’s SLI will emphasize food security in the local community. SLI co-chair Edward Diaz said, “We will be working with organizations that deal with this issue as well as hosting guest speakers from various organizations that deal with food insecurity in Chapel Hill.”

Edward and Courtney at Battle ParkIn addition to a new theme, SLI co-chair Courtney Bain explained other changes. “This year, the program has grown which allows us to reach out to more incoming students and also include additional sites in the area, further strengthening our partnerships in the community.”

The 60 SLI participants and 18 site leaders worked with Battle Park, Club Nova, ARC of the Triangle, Helping Hand, Carolina Campus Community Garden, TABLE, Anathoth Community Garden and SECU Family House on a variety of service projects.

“We love to have students work with us because it combines the efforts of the university and the community. It gets them outside the university bubble,” said George Barrett, associate director of Organizing and Advocacy at Heavenly Groceries in Chapel Hill. “It’s great to see how students connect with the community. They make some great inter-generational connections and bond to do good work.”

Expressing her passion for service, Bain added, “APPLES has had a tremendous impact on my Carolina life from introducing me to the world of service opportunities in the community to providing me with the chance to hold a leadership position for the program I love the most.”

During SLI, participants are also introduced to other campus and community service organizations and become connected with a network of current students who may help in their transition to Carolina. Many SLI participants become involved with other components of the APPLES Service-Learning program or choose to be involved with planning and leading SLI for future classes of incoming students. Since the program’s inception in 2003, 854 students have participated. All focused on a common goal: immerse themselves in service at Carolina.

“I am involved with SLI and APPLES because I have seen firsthand the difference it has made [with] students in the Carolina community,” Diaz said. “I love seeing how students who have participated in SLI become involved with the organizations we work with.”

APPLES intern lobbies for farmworkers and undocumented students

By Leona Amosah

Jose at the GAFrom the green tobacco fields of North Carolina to the halls of the North Carolina General Assembly, José Cisneros ’17, a history and economics major from Snow Hill, North Carolina, has worked hard to not only understand the plight of rural farm workers but also to diligently advocate on behalf of North Carolina’s undocumented students. This summer, Cisneros worked with Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) as an APPLES Service-Learning intern through the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS).

Cisneros’ interest in SAF grew from a personal connection he had with the organization’s line of work. “My mother grew up on a farm in rural Mexico, where she worked every day the first 16 years of her life. When we moved to the U.S., she continued to do farm work in North Carolina’s tobacco and sweet potato fields for seven years, and I also worked in tobacco during the summer when I was in high school,” said Cisneros. “From the fields, I learned so much about life, family and perseverance. I wanted to get involved in the farmworker movement in order to learn more about social justice and be able to do something positive for the Hispanic community.”

APPLES intern Jose Cisneros Undocugraduation Lobbying DayCisneros was introduced to public service at Carolina through the First-Year Service Corps, also offered through CCPS. As an APPLES intern with SAF, Cisneros coordinated lobbying events and meetings with North Carolina senators and representatives. He also advocated for farmworkers and the Hispanic community in North Carolina and participated in the SAF Into the Fields Theater Group, which performed a play about alcoholism and alternate ways to deal with depression and isolation.

“The best thing about my internship is the growth that I’ve experienced as a leader and advocate,” Cisneros said. ”At first, I was very intimidated and even scared to be in a place with so many powerful and influential men and women. However, I have learned to not be afraid and to have a voice in order to have a bigger impact and advocate more effectively. The lessons I’ve learned and the people I’ve [met] have certainly left a mark on me, and I want to continue to work for a better, more equal society.”