It’s hard to imagine how I would begin to summarize my summer experience. I often hear those words from students who go abroad, and I can understand why. I never expected to say them myself, however, after a summer in Gettysburg. When I began, I knew I would have a great experience, but I never thought that living in the same community that I live in year-round could provide me with such a different and previously unrecognized perspective on life, poverty, food, sustainability, community, and kindness. Three highlights of my summer stand out in my mind, and hopefully provide a clear view of my nine week experience.
The first highlight of my summer deals with fresh produce, more specifically, hundreds and hundreds of pounds of fresh produce. Whether the produce comes from donated Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, Farmer’s Market pick-ups, or individual gardens, our refrigerator is exploding with zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, beets, and peaches. It’s intimidating, but amazing! Every meal we’ve made in the past month has included some form of local fruits or veggies. If there is one thing families in poverty or working themselves out of poverty cannot afford, it is fresh produce. Knowing that we have the opportunity to provide them with an abundance of fresh produce, therefore saving them from eating processed, sugary foods for at least one night is incredibly rewarding. During a dinner with the Circles Initiative, one little girl realized she loved fresh blueberries. She must have eaten half a quart along with her dinner. We bring fresh produce to Circles every week for members to take home, but if I could have sent home a hundred pounds of blueberries with the little girl, I would have been fully satisfied.
The next surprise highlight we had at Campus Kitchen this summer involved our volunteers. For the last several weeks, younger kids, mostly junior high boys, have been coming to the kitchen to volunteer. Many of them tag along with Ty, an 8th grader who volunteers regularly. They definitely add some excitement to the kitchen, but they’ve all been hard-working and willing to do whatever we ask. I love seeing these junior high boys suited up in aprons and hairnets. They not only learn basic cooking skills and are exposed to public serve, but it’s also two hours from their day that they aren’t on the streets or mixed up in trouble. Kim and I have talked about ways Campus Kitchen could possibly formalize a program for them – possibly offering lunch and a game of basketball after the cooking shift. Having them come in opens my eyes to possibilities for the Campus Kitchen that go beyond food.
The final highlight of my summer has been Circles. On top of being the most fun and creative meal Carter and I prepare each week (last night we had Chicken Parmesan and pasta with homemade tomato sauce, a cucumber, tomato, and basil salad, and warm butter garlic bread….yummmm), Circles continues to amaze me with the relationships it fosters and the genuine, hard-working people involved. Gia, Kirsty, and John (other Heston Interns) also attend Circles each week with Carter and I, which makes Circles something we can bond over and lets us carry our conversations and thoughts beyond the meeting. I learn something new each meeting, and they are often simple ideas that most people don’t take the time to recognize, analyze, and contemplate – healthy relationships vs. unhealthy relationships, forward-moving vs. moving-away motivation, hidden class rules, etc. More importantly, I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve come to know at the meetings, so I can’t imagine ending my Circles time next week. I will definitely continue going to Circles during the school year even though I will not be cooking the meals anymore.
It’s easy to ramble on about the many experiences I’ve had this summer, but on a broader note, this is what I’ve learned. I’ve learned that I want to work closely with other people once I graduate. I love joking with the employees when I do a pick-up at Sheetz, receiving a warm greeting from my buddies at the Senior Center, and getting to know the crew at Servo (who win the award for the most generous and coolest guys on campus). And I’ve learned that I would like to continue my work in public service. I can see myself scrambling around the ambiguous and exciting world of creating a sustainable community more so than sitting in an office day after day. All in all, I love what I do. My challenge now is to find a way to continue on.
Photos: A box of fresh tomatoes and basil before we made our sauce. / Me working in the kitchen with Professor JoAnne Myers. / Carter preparing peaches for the freezer.
Devan Grote
Campus Kitchen/Food Policy Council Intern

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This seems to be the question of the week. Each day this week, we´ve had to say goodbye to more and more people. We always get the same question: so when are you coming back? The only answer I can give is I have no idea, but I hope it´s soon. The more people I say goodbye to, the more I realize how many people I´ve gotten to know this summer.

My main jobs this summer have been doing two solar oven construction workshops and interviewing 50% of the women who have solar ovens so that FUPROSOMUNIC can evaluate the whether or not the women are using the ovens and what changes should be made to the project. In the construction workshops, we worked with groups of women to build solar ovens. Each woman gets to take home her oven at the end of the workshop. Through these workshops, we got to know two different communities of women, one in Catarina and one in a very poor community called Monte Horet. Although the basic ideas were the same, the workshops ran very differently. The first one was much more disorganized, and there was a lot of tension between the women running it. At the beginning, a few of the women from Catarina only showed up a few times. By the end it was definitely going better, with women showing up on a daily basis. In Monte Horet, however, the experience was completely different. Almost all of the women were there all of the time, willing to learn and work, and the coordinators seemed to have put aside their differences and seemed to be enjoying working together. Everything was run in a much more efficient manner. Towards the end of the workshop, Mercedes, the director of the organization, asked us how we thought the workshop was going. When we told her it was going really well, she told us a large part of that was because she had had a meeting with the women and told them the suggestions we had made to her after the first workshop. It was really cool to learn that our suggestions had actually really made a difference.

Yesterday, Amanda and I went to visit the women in Monte Horet. It was great to visit; they seemed really excited to see us. Although only about three out of the ten of them have tried out their solar ovens (it´s been raining a lot…), but they all seemed to have them covered in their houses to protect them from the rain. We sat and talked to one woman, whose house was only about 12 feet by 12 feet. Despite this, the solar oven got a prominent spot inside so that it wouldn´t get damaged.

The three weeks of interviews I did really showed me the good, the bad and the ugly of the solar oven project. We encountered one woman who claimed that the “the women who actually manage to cook anything with them must have three to make it work.” Although this was a rare extreme, it shows the reality that goes with any project like this. There are bound to be women who are not willing to even learn to use the ovens. This is a large part of our job in the interview; to figure out what the problems are with the project. If there are women who are unwilling to give the solar oven a fair chance, their ovens are given to another woman in the community who has a greater interest in the project. For the most part, however, the women really appreciate the ovens. Many spoke about how much money they save for gas and firewood, how nice it is not to breathe smoke every day, and how much more time they have for other things when they can just leave their food cooking in the solar oven.

It´s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. Last night, we had our goodbye dinner with the women from FUPROSOMUNIC. One of them said that she honestly didn´t really want to come because she hates goodbyes because they´re so sad. In some ways it seems like we just got here, and in some ways I´ve become completely accustomed to life in Nicaragua. It will be strange to be back in the US in just over a week. When I get the question about when I´m coming back, I really do wish I had a better answer. I would love to say see you next summer or next year, but who knows if that will be possible. As the women in Monte Horet said to us, however, “even if it takes a while before you can come back, always remember us.” This has definitely been an experience I will never forget.

Katie Clay ’11

I had had a tedious morning and was walking through town. After about five children called “BYE MZUNGU” to me, one grabbed my arm to test whether my skin was magically different, and twelve boda boda drivers asked me “sister, sister, where are you going,” I was mildly annoyed. All of a sudden, I hear someone yelling, “Nakiwala, Nakiwala!” (one of my Luganda names that I use to introduce myself since Hilary is a bit hard to say and a man’s name here.) Upon turning around, a boda boda driver I took a few days ago waved to me and asked how I was doing.

But now not only do boda boda drivers recognize me but also my neighbors. One man came up to me and welcomed me back as I was walking home. Even better, a few weeks ago, I was at a training session for teachers; students from a nearby school saw me and asked the headmistress to introduce me to them. Next thing I know, I am standing in a room with over 200 children being asked questions like “what is science?” and “what are the names of your parents?” A week later, I showed back up at the school, turns out this is the second school piloting my project. I stood up and introduced myself as Hilary. Since so many people have problems pronouncing my name, I asked them to repeat it back to me. My question was met with 130 blank stares. Finally, one brave boy raised his hand and told me my name was Nakiwala. I squealed a little, clasped my hands together happily, said yes, and sat back down. They remembered me.

I have a morning routine. Wake up, stretch, wash face, brush my teeth, listen to music as I dance around my room putting on make-up, drink some tea, greet my family and workers, then head off to work. When I get home, sometimes, I help the workers for our catering business peel potatoes. They all try to talk to be in Luganda, and I attempt to string together simple sentences. They laugh at me, and I just clumsily keep at the potatoes or whatever else they think I can handle.

If I am not helping out, Tosha, my host sister, and I try to bond over our mutual love of Disney movies. I sing along and she laughs at me. If we aren’t watching movies sometimes we take photos on my computer or tuzina (we dance) to random music videos or the radio. Once again, my family laughs as I twirl her around or try to teach her the twist.

The place that is building the ballot boxes for my project is called Masaka Vocational and Rehabilitation Center. This organization trains disabled students in things like knitting, carpentry, and computers. Last semester, I took a sign language class and can pull out some random phrases and sentences. The man building my boxes is mute and an absolute sweetheart. Literally, I just want to hug him. Anyways, I really wanted to show him how thankful I was for the amazing work he was doing so I signed thank you. He asked my name, something I am still competent enough to be able to sign. After that, I was far out of my league. But the way he smiled when I tried to sign to him…

It is little moments, tiny things here and there, that make it so hard for me to consider I have less than a week left. I am not only comfortable here but enjoying the haggling with vendors, the calls of mzungu in octaves only audible to canines, falling on my ass because I step in potholes, chowing down on banana chips, spending time with my family, and meeting truly amazing and lovely people.

Hilary Lanfried ’13

 

 

First off I’d like to say that all of us here in Uganda are safe! As I’m sure you’ve heard, there were two bombings in the capital city, Kampala, right after the World Cup Final. It is a real tragedy and very shocking to hear about. I have never once felt unsafe while here in Uganda, even with the recent bombing. Out here in the village, I have honestly heard very few details about the bombings except what I’ve learned by word of mouth. It is interesting to see how the news spreads out here, when most people don’t have television or really even read the newspaper. It is a shame to hear about such an event in such a beautiful place, but it goes to show Uganda still may not be as stable as it appears. Our thoughts and prayers are with Uganda and the families of the victims.

On a lighter note, our time here in Masaka is quickly coming to an end! It’s hard to believe our 8 weeks here are just about finished. While I am looking forward to returning to the conveniences of everyday American life, I will miss the way of life here, which has been so great to be a part of these past two months. I keep a personal journal of my time here, and I looked back on my thoughts I wrote on my 10th day in the country. I had just moved in with my host family, and was overwhelmed, confused, and anxious about what the coming weeks had in store. Now with only 10 days left, I am sad to leave my home away from home. My host family and the community in Kayannamukaaka have taken such great care of me and have been nothing but welcoming. These are truly some of the most hospitable people I’ve met, and it’s been a pleasure living and working with them.

This past week I completed the three rainwater collection tanks that I have been working on for my project. It was a definite learning experience, to say the least. The most challenging parts were the language barrier, which made everyday…interesting…, waiting for materials to be made, and dealing with the Ugandan work ethic. For example, we were supposed to have a carpenter named Kalungi install gutters on the three houses for us. We originally chose Friday to do this, but he informed us Thursday that he did not really feel like working on Friday. Getting a clear explanation as to exactly why he did not want to work was difficult, and ultimately I never learned why he did not want to work. We scrapped the day and said, “Ok, let’s do it on Monday.” Monday morning came and he called us saying we had inconvenienced him, and he was not going to put up our gutters, not today, not tomorrow, never. Left, again, with no real explanation, I had to now leave it up to my other crew of 4 men from a neighboring village to install the gutters. They ended up being able to put them up for all three houses on Monday, as well as finishing up the other work needed on the tanks. It was very relieving to finally be finished! The tanks came out great, and the members we built them for were ecstatic that they now had fewer trips to the far away wells. Despite all of the frustration, working with the community to build these tanks was incredible. The four men who constructed the tanks were great to work with, and we were able to trade stories of our lives on different continents. The families who received the tanks were so thankful, and always had a feast prepared for lunch. One day, when Jake was helping me as well, we even had the honor of eating the special piece of chicken, which translates into English as “the piece for the big man,” which translates further into “chicken liver.” Yum. Uganda is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, and I hope to be back very soon. Peace,
Mike Lahoda

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After posting my entry I realized I hadn't included any pictures. So here is one from when a group from the Lincoln Intermediate Unit volunteered in the kitchen. We had a lot of fun working with these kids and teaching them about what we do and the organizations that we make meals for. Two groups from the LIU volunteered with us, and both were a great help, and a blast to have in the kitchen. In this picture you can see students snapping peas, and a student ladling yogurt into the Meals on Wheels meal boxes. I am in the background helping people with aprons, hair nets and gloves. This group also had a question and answer session with Jeremy of Seasons Bakery and the SCCAP Food Service Development Program, where he answered questions about culinary school, owning a small business, and the Food Service Development Program.
Carter McClintock, Campus Kitchens

Although I started off the summer worried about whether or not I would be able to handle figuring out what to make, ensuring food safety, explaining CKP to volunteers, facilitating and teaching volunteers, and everything else that goes on in a Campus Kitchens shift, while finishing on time, I now feel very comfortable in the kitchen. Now when I run out of protein for example and don't have anything defrosted I pop open the freezer, grab a bag and get to work defrosting it. And so far we've always managed to finish on time, or even early. So that has been a really good learning experience for me. As has receiving Community Supported Agriculture donations and produce from the Gettysburg Farmer's Market. I now know a few ways to prepare Bok Choy, Kale, and a bunch of other vegetables I hadn't handled much before. Including Kohlrabi which I didn't even know existed until this summer.

 

I've also really enjoyed working with our volunteers. The Campus Kitchen attracts a wide-variety of people and each shift has a different dynamic depending on who is in the kitchen. When we have college students, faculty or staff our conversations tend towards discussions of majors, departments and college news. Whereas when we have community members we talk about goings on in town, the heat wave and things to do in Gettysburg. And with our younger volunteers we discuss classes, school, activities, sports and such. I really enjoy that part of my job, it's fun to not know what we're going to talk about in the kitchen each day, and who exactly we'll have. I have also gotten to know some of our volunteers and that has been very rewarding.

 

Circles is another exciting part of our work. In fact in many ways it is the focal point of everything we do. Devan and I plan all week for Circles and put a lot of energy and thought into providing the best meal we can for that dinner, and then as soon as we're done with one Circles meal we move on to planning the next. But it's not only that planning and cooking a hot meal is fun and interesting, especially when we have to improvise or have odd ingredients to work with. But eating dinner with and talking to people from the community is a lot of fun. I've learned more about Gettysburg while at Circles this summer than I think I did in my first two years of college. And because we spend so much time in the kitchen it is nice to get out of the kitchen and talk to the people we are making meals for, and hear their stories and about the challenges they face. I wouldn't say that Circles has completely changed my world view, because I was at least somewhat aware of the inequalities in our society and the challenges faced by those in poverty, but I would say that Circles has added more of a personal aspect to my understanding of poverty and through Circles and working at CPS I have learned much more about the specific challenges. Like the gap between self-sufficiency and the end of benefits, the way so many people rely on emergency food systems and not efforts to help people get out of poverty, and even the flaws in some agencies designed at least in theory to help people.

 

There are of course still challenges for me at the Campus Kitchen. Over the summer I have been trying to find new donors for the kitchen, but that process is a very slow one. A few businesses agreed to donate, but haven't yet, and many businesses told us they didn't create waste. So that has been frustrating. I think the main challenge in getting businesses who are interested in donating is regularity. It seems to me that many of the businesses who were very enthusiastic at first do not donate because they eventually forget about CKP because of all the other things going on in their kitchens or businesses. So I'd like to figure out a way to help interested businesses start donating, without nagging them about Campus Kitchens and totally turning them off of the idea. I haven't really figured out how to do that yet, and I'm not sure how many donors the project will have added by the end of the summer, but luckily we have some very strong supporters, including the guys at Servo who have saved us on numerous occasions with generous donations.

 

Another large part of our work is preparing food for the winter. This is fun because though I have canned before I had never dehydrated food, and I had also only rarely frozen food from the garden. So now I know how to dehydrate potatoes, and a few other things that we haven't dehydrated but that we thought about dehydrating. And I also know how to prepare strawberries, sour cherries, apricots, peaches and sugar snap peas for freezing. So hopefully the program coordinators for the fall will have some vegetables and fruits to fall back on if they run low.

Carter McClintock, Campus Kitchens Project in Gettysburg

 

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Going into this experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I get fit in at the program? Would I be able to carve a niche out for myself and make a difference in this specific community? Would I feel challenged? Yes, yes and yes. I can honestly say that this summer has been one of the most interesting and challenging of my life thus far. I have learned more things about community action, social change and myself in the past month than I could have ever hoped for. This summer I am working with SCCAP’s Family Development Services with Lisa Connolly, the program coordinator. A component of the South Central Community Action Programs, Inc, Family Development Services (FDS) is devoted to impact wide-ranging change in the larger Adams County community, one individual at a time, by focusing on persons affected by homelessness, poverty and unemployment.

At first I was a little uncertain of my role in the program and wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to be doing. However over time I have gained confidence in my ability to effectively adapt to the program and the staff and have actually grown quite comfortable in my role as a GED tutor, coordinator of fundraising, Life Skills assistant and office aide. The people I have met, the clients I have served and the relationships I have formed have truly made this experience much more than I expected it to be. I knew what kind of program this was but I had no idea about the hands on experience I would get actually helping people to change their lives by encouraging self-reliance and healthy interdependence. Everyday I go to the center very assured of the positive work I am doing and well aware of the impact of my community work with individuals facing such daunting issues.

Lisa Connolly, the program coordinator of Family Development Services, is the unsung hero of this program and is one person I have truly grown to respect and admire. This work is her life’s work and she goes over and beyond what is required to assure the success of this program. Her dedication, passion and sincere desire to help people is visible every single day and I am so very lucky that I was placed in this program to work with her. The responsibility and trust she has placed in me runs contrary to the role I thought I would be playing in the program: merely doing paperwork and making copies. She has given me a role and told me to run with it, putting full faith in my ability to do what needs to be done. The experience that has come from this faith and responsibility has surpassed my greatest expectations and is undoubtedly a long-lasting and beneficial contribution to my understanding of how society, individual responsibility and collective action interconnect and overlap.

John Carney, Heston Intern: Gettysburg – SCCAP’s Family Development Services

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