Beyond the Brick: Spring Village Travel Opportunities

Five Living and Learning Villages invited residents to participate in alternative and diversity trips to places from Charleston, S.C. to Portugal. Students broadened their horizons outside of NC State and explored different cultures through a variety of tours and group activities. 

SAY Village, North, Watauga and Avent Ferry travel to Charleston

Thirteen students from the Students Advocating Youth (SAY) Village visited Charleston, S.C, along with students from Avent Ferry Complex, North and Watauga residence halls. It was an opportunity to explore different cultures through tours of Gullah and Boone Hall Plantation and the assistance of James Island High School students.

Tyra Kornegay, a freshman studying elementary education, attended the trip because she wanted to experience something new and had never been to Charleston before.

“I wanted to see everything the city had to offer,” she said.

Kornegay enjoyed working with James Island High School students the most.  SAY participants helped the students with homework, classwork and answered questions about life in college.

“I liked how they were so open to tell us about themselves,” she said. “Because they did that, it was a perfect way to encourage them and to be able to share experiences and make goals in order to achieve what they wanted in their lives.”

Daniel Shiels, a freshman in First Year College, also found tutoring the students the most rewarding aspect of the trip.

“The energy and eccentricity of the teachers and the excitement of students made it a joy to be there,” he said. Shiels decided to go to Charleston because he loves getting involved in programs like SAY and the experience of meeting and working with different people.

One of his fondest memories was the first night of the trip: seeing the breathtaking sights, eating excellent food and knowing that the group had an incredible week ahead of them.

Shiels described the trip as “a bit of a persuader” in his process of choosing a major. “My plan is to go into business administration and design studies, but I also have an interest in technology, design and engineering education,” he said. “The trip was definitely beneficial in the aspect that it gave me more to ‘chew on,’ metaphorically speaking, in terms of my major.”

As for Kornegay, the trip taught her about adapting to different cultures. “We should embrace it and be able to use it to inform others and broaden our knowledge about the world,” she said. “It was a very eye-opening experience for me that I will never forget.”

Joy Jackson, a junior studying Business Administration, attended the trip because she knew that the diversity trip last year was successful and participants learned a lot, so she wanted to experience a trip like that for herself.

“My favorite part of the trip was definitely the Gullah Geechee tour,” she said. “Our tour guide did a great job of telling us about the history of Charleston and informing us of interesting facts about the Gullah Geechee culture, which was really interesting since my family is Gullah Geechee.”

EcoVillage travels to San Francisco

EcoVillage residents visited San Francisco and created a blog to share their experiences and insights from the trip.

“I chose to participate in the trip to San Francisco because I thought that the class that went along with the trip, Intro to Sustainable Urban Development, sounded interesting and could help me decide what I wanted my focal area for environmental science to be,” said Maddison Hightower, a freshman studying environmental sciences.

Before the trip, students were asked to read Walkable City by Jeff Speck. In the book, Speck theorizes that making a city walkable is the best way to create a sustainable community. His 10-step process focuses on the negative impacts of cars, mixing building uses, fixing city parking, setting up public transit, pedestrian safety, bicycling in an urban context, shaping spaces and landscapes to be interesting and inviting and planting trees. The students then evaluated San Francisco’s sustainability.

“I was interested in how a densely populated city like San Francisco was becoming more sustainable,” said Daniel Marulanda, a junior studying Environmental Science.

However, his favorite part of the trip, as well as Hightower’s, was seeing the redwood trees in Muir Woods. “It was nice visiting a forest so close to such a large city,” Marulanda said. “It was a drastic change from the urban tour.”

Hightower discovered San Francisco’s goal of zero waste in its landfill through a three-bin system for their residences: compost, recycle and trash is still a work in progress. Only 20 percent of the cities’ waste goes to a landfill, and about 70 percent of that could have either been recycled or composted, she said.

“San Francisco wants to help eliminate the remaining waste by putting a ban on single-use plastics,” Hightower said. “They have kick-started this plan by banning the use of plastic bags.”

The trip was beneficial for Hightower because it proved that a city-wide goal to have zero waste to landfill and a banning on plastic bags are possible and successful.

Marulanda also learned that sustainability doesn’t have to be restricting. “The San Francisco Department of Environment and Recology make it convenient for people to live a sustainable lifestyle,” he said. “This trip has given me a new perspective on what it means to be sustainable, and hopefully I can use this knowledge to benefit NC State’s campus.” 

Scholars Village travels to Portugal

Belem Tower, St. George Castle and Padrão dos Descobrimentos are all places University Scholars visited on their trip to Portugal this spring. Each place encouraged students to explore, learn about Portuguese culture and get out of their comfort zones.

“Since college is a time for self-discovery, I knew that I wanted to travel to an exotic location for spring break,” said Rebeka Galeano, a sophomore studying Genetics. “With its rich history, intriguing culture and beautiful beaches, Portugal fit the bill.”

Even though Galeano has always wanted to go to Portugal, she never thought she would have the chance, so she jumped at the opportunity to explore the country with the members of the Scholars Village.

“On the third day of the trip, we were given free time to explore Lisbon,” she said. “During this time, I walked around the city with really no destination in mind. As I explored the Alfarma, walked through residential areas and watched the sunset on the harbor, I was surrounded by locals, so I was able to immerse myself in the Portuguese culture. Since I was able to experience and appreciate the culture of Portugal during this afternoon, it was my favorite part of the trip.”

The trip to Portugal taught Galeano to appreciate the journey and not the destination. “Much of the time, travel tends to focus on the destination, but I learned that that is not what matters,” she said. “During much of the trip we really had no set plan, which allowed me to notice the small things and learn about the country and myself.”

The group toured a multitude of additional places on the trip such as Evora, including St. Francis Church and the Roman ruins. They also toured Sagres, including Cabo San Vicente and Fortaleza.

Engineering Village travels to Nicaragua

Members of the Engineering Village traveled to Nicaragua as part of an Alternative Service Break (ASK) trip and worked with El Porvenir, a local non-governmental organization, to improve water quality in Camoapa.

Eric Beppler, a junior studying Electrical Engineering, said participants prepared and planted about two thousand seedlings to aid in groundwater retention and reforestation. The students worked specifically with Las Trincheras—a local elementary school. The students also toured the local hospital and college, and the local radio program interviewed them about their visit and what they do at NC State.

“The project was an excellent opportunity to serve a global community, but the cultural experiences of living and working in Camoapa proved to be far more valuable for me,” Beppler said. “The level of ingenuity and creativity displayed by the locals was astounding.”

Beppler said when something was broken, a replacement would appear seemingly from thin air and was often made from unconventional materials. “The ability of the town to adapt to changing situations with nothing but wits, hard work and a few basic skills was truly incredible and a lesson in both humility and innovative thinking,” he said.

The highlight of the trip, for Beppler, was sharing the message of NC State, engineering, entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship with children of the community.

“Through our work with the children planting trees, we helped protect the immense and widespread natural resources of Nicaragua and instilled the engineering mindset of solving problems,” he said. “Entrepreneurship seems to come naturally to the kids the group helped, many of whom were making and selling hielado—a local frozen treat.”

Engineering students helped the children adopt the mindset that owning a business isn’t so farfetched. They taught the kids NC State’s mindset—that they can achieve more than they might imagine when they ‘Think and Do.’

Albright Entrepreneurs Village Externships

Each semester, the Albright Entrepreneurs Village (AEV) offers local, one-day Entrepreneurial Externships for the Albright Scholars designed to provide residents with an inside view of entrepreneurs at work. The externships also taught students how to apply different academic disciplines to a wide variety of entrepreneurial opportunities, according to Ebony Hinton, former director of AEV.

The experience connected students with entrepreneurs and potential future internships. During these trips, students interact with valuable contacts and gain the experience of speaking about their backgrounds, what they are interested in, how they overcame obstacles and discuss entrepreneurial aspirations with practicing entrepreneurs.

On Oct. 24, the Entrepreneurial Externship was held at the National Agents Alliance Headquarters in Burlington, N.C. The National Agents Alliance (NAA) was founded by AEV donors Andy and Jane Albright and has agents in all 50 states with annual financial services more than $100 million in annual sales. Andy Albright spent time speaking with the students and touring them through the facilities. Albright provided students with more motivation to pursue their own ambitions in the Village.

In March, the Entrepreneurial Externship was held at HQ Raleigh on March 27. HQ Raleigh is a shared workspace designed to empower, foster and cultivate companies that produce long-term job growth and positive social impact. The scholars spent time listening to local entrepreneurs, touring the facility and learning about the core values of HQ Raleigh and how to get involved in the local entrepreneurial community.

Each year, Albright Scholars also travel with the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) to Silicon Valley during spring break to visit tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook, as well as cutting-edge start-ups, like Prezi. During the trip, students met with entrepreneurs and executives from small start-ups to large multi-national companies, many of which are NC State alumni.

Other Trips

Residents of Wolf Village and Wolf Ridge who enjoyed music and were interested in exploring how the theme of music shaped culture in Nashville, Tenn. visited the city during Fall Break.

Students participated in multiple team-building and diversity activities that helped them think critically about intersects between privilege and opportunity.

“The one activity that has stuck with me these past several months was the activity we did while on Vanderbilt’s campus,” said Sabrina Anderson, a junior studying Business Administration. She said the group leaders asked all the students to stand in a line facing them. One of the leaders read a sentence, and if the sentence applied to them, the students took a few steps forward. The purpose of the activity was to see the diversity within groups and note the variety of different backgrounds.

“It was really interesting to learn more about my new friends’ pasts and how we all had different ideas about what it is to be privileged,” Anderson said. “Every night we would gather in the common area in the hostel and discuss different diversity topics. These talks became very in-depth very quickly.”

Students also participated in a service event during the trip when they visited Second Harvest Food Bank and worked with other volunteers to organize and package non-perishable food products to be stored and handed out to the needy in the area.

Anderson’s favorite part of the trip was visiting the Grand Ole Opry. “This was my primary reason for signing up for the trip,” she said. “I am a huge country fan and I always wanted to go out to Nashville. Also, I really enjoyed meeting and interacting with the students.”

Students benefited from the trip because of the bonds formed during travel. “I transferred from UNC-Wilmington and having the opportunity to bond with NC State students really made me feel more comfortable and welcome on campus,” she said.

Regardless of the time or place, Spring Break trips, diversity and ASB trips all provide an unforgettable experience for residents and Village participants.