Their trips may have taken place 3,000 miles apart, but Jesse Clews and Jennifer Krause both came home with a similar outlook on life.
The Brock students participated in the University’s Alternative Reading Week (ARW) program in February 2017, heading to Peru and South Carolina respectively. They both plan to return to their respective volunteer posts this winter, but not without bringing along a few new recruits.
The pair will be on hand to share their experiences at some of the upcoming information sessions aimed at getting new ARW volunteers on board.
Despite the vast distance and differing cultures of each location, both Clews and Krause experienced the effectiveness of the program and its overwhelming impact on participants.
In South Carolina, Krause, now a fourth-year history student, worked alongside fellow Brock students and local community members to build a Habitat for Humanity house for a family in need.
“I learned a lot about myself,” Krause said of the experience. “I am really shy and I was nervous about meeting new people in a different environment. While I was there, I learned a lot of new personal skills and interacted with others on a different level.”
Meanwhile, in Peru, Clews, now a fourth-year health sciences student, was participating in a medical outreach program that allowed him to not only gain important hands-on experience, but to also learn valuable life lessons.
“The trip gave me the medical job-shadowing opportunities that I needed,” he said. “And on a humanitarian level, I learned that we all need to be a bit more appreciative of what we have.”
Kristen Smith, Manager of Community Outreach Programs, with Brock’s Student Life and Community Experience Department emphasized that, in addition to personal growth, students on Alternative Reading Week trips are also often practically affirmed in their career choices.
“They feel the sense of ‘I am in the right field,’” she said. “Or they realize there is a less traditional path for them to take to begin their career.”
That sentiment rang true for both Clews and Krause.
Krause, an aspiring teacher, said the trip has inspired her to direct her career towards helping the less fortunate.
Clews discovered that Peruvian physicians employ a more holistic approach to patient care, and he hopes to use this method within his own medical career.
Beyond the hands-on humanitarian experience, Krause and Clews each felt the best part of their respective trips involved spending time with local residents while soaking up some life lessons they could not have learned at home.
“They taught me to be more patient and not to sweat the small stuff,” Clews said.
“And to treat everyone with equity, dignity and respect,” echoed Krause.
“The impact that individuals can have in our global society, recognizing similarities and differences, is life changing,” said Smith. “And we are excited for more students to have those experiences in this year’s programs.”
Clews hoped to encourage students to take the leap and join one of the worthwhile trips.
“You are volunteering seven days of your reading week to have experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life,” he said.
Students interested in learning more about Brock’s Alternative Reading Week program are invited to attend the following information sessions:
- Tuesday, Oct. 3 at noon in Welch Hall 311
- Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 3 p.m. in Plaza 311
- Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. in Plaza 411
- Thursday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. in Thistle 149
Information on the Alternative Reading Week programs can also be found on ExperienceBU.