Service is obviously an important part of anything calling itself an alternative service break, and I’ve alluded many times to multiple service projects–both here and in Belize. In this post I’m finally breaking it down into the most concrete blocks possible: I’m telling you what we’ve done and more importantly, what we’re going to do.
A while ago I said sharing money is a means of sharing opportunity. More so than anything else I’ve spoken about, giving me the opportunity to do this service is what will truly make a difference in the world today. Awareness and information? They’re great. They help us adapt our practices to a changing world and ensure it’ll last for our children and theirs, but looking always at the horizon isn’t enough. It takes concrete action today to make concrete change today–and today, it’s this action I’m telling you about.
Before I got caught up on a chocolate high yesterday, I mentioned coffee has somehow become a staple of the ASB trip I’m going on. Now, I know you all know of my persistent, practically lifelong love of tea, but I have a confession: I had coffee the other day, and I liked it.
I know. Really. I couldn’t believe it myself.
So it only seems fitting I celebrate coffee for today.
Coffee and chocolate. For me it’s been a love/hate relationship, and yet it seems coffee and chocolate are staples of the Alternative Spring Break trip I’m going on in March. It’s a comical story–but it has grave consequences.
I wrote a post on Fair Trade last week, but the moment I finished it, I loathed it. It was long and tiresome, uninspired, and failed to touch the topic adequately. It was supposed to start my in-depth look at the issues our trip is facing, but instead it felt like a sour essay.
The point remains, however, that Fair Trade is important. After all, our entire trip is working alongside the Toledo Cacao Growers Association, which is based around Fair Trade farming.
So I’m tossing out everything else and starting anew. It’s not fair that I have to write this twice, but it’s not fair that farmers around the world aren’t receiving the benefits of Fair Trade, either.
When you found yourself here today, you probably noticed the new banner at the top of the page. I like banners. They allow me an opportunity to make a little art and share it, to add a little color and something extra to my blog. I’ve used them to describe myself (“A gay Jewish storyteller speaks”), to give greetings (“Happy New Year!”), and even to make a political point (remember SOPA?). But now? Now I’m using it as a way of inviting you deeper.
Today began my ASB Team’s retreat and we spent the day learning about Fair Trade and then doing some activities to broaden our perspectives and allow us to gain greater insight into our personalities and the makeup of our group. I’ll get to all of those points next week–for now, I need to discuss why Belize is important to me.
Believe it or not, it means more than even I had thought it would.
It’s hard to admit it was last year when I last mentioned my trip to Belize in the spring (and I had to say it–the joke’s too good not to). On the bright side, with many thanks to my contributors, I’ve reached twelve percent of my fundraising goal! If you’re able to help, you can make a donation here. If you’re still not convinced, keep reading and hopefully I’ll change your mind.
It all started very much by accident. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently pursuing the Visionary Leaders Certificate that N.C. State students can complete by accomplishing a number of tasks (I like to say tasks because it reminds me of Harry Potter, and that makes everything more fun). These are all simple enough–attend ten Leadership Development Seminars, prepare a portfolio of reflections on what you’ve learned and how you’ve applied it, write a page about your involvement on campus, and then defend your portfolio before a panel of judges more terrifying than a Hungarian Horntail (well, maybe not that bad)–but, wait, I forgot one.
Oh, yes. It’s the question that started everything. Community Service.
One of the first things I found myself doing after I got home on winter break was make up a table of goals, priorities, and steps to get from one to the other (or from the other to the one, as it should happen to be). It’s a planning technique I learned from the coordinator of the NCPIRG group that’s trying to get started at N.C. State. It’s essentially an activist group for issues especially relevant to students and since the election, I’ve been moderately involved; it’s very methodical, however, especially machine-like, and that somewhat deters me from going in deeper, although I think it’s an experience I’m likely to enjoy.
But that’s next year, and I’m still struggling through today.