This morning, as I woke up and began my usual routine, I paused for a second to break free from whatever thoughts my brain had been feeding into while on autopilot. I gazed contently at my bathroom sink as I felt its warm water running relentlessly over my hands. And then I did something that might have landed me in the loony bin had someone been there to witness it. I apologized to my bathroom sink. “But what would compel you to do such a thing?” one might inquire with a tone of ridicule and utter bewilderment. Well, I had just learned something a few days earlier that I had not been completely aware of before then. Something that would change the way I viewed even the smallest things in life.
“So what did you learn?” one might ask with eager anticipation. Well, let me show you by telling you a story. This is a true story about a group of incredible people who took a step that many people aren’t willing to take.
The story takes place in Peru where water pollution, inadequate sanitation, and overall poverty plague a population of approximately 29 million people. In certain areas, water must be delivered by truck to villages on top of hills that don’t have access to pipelines. The water is stored in open containers where it can easily be infected by mosquitoes and animals. In other poor areas, the water only runs from 5:30 am to around 7 am. Residents must go out early in the morning to collect all the water they need for the day, including water for drinking, bathing, and cleaning. In Peru, water pollution is responsible for the spread of malaria and dengue fever throughout a country that is still struggling to recover after a history of government corruption and violence.
Independencia district in Lima, Peru
Enter 10 students from NYIT who touch down at an airport in Peru during spring break of 2011 determined to make a change. Rather than spending their break partying and being oblivious to the issues going on around them, these citizens of the world decided to spend their spring break making an impact in the world. It was all part of NYIT's Alternative Break program planned in partnership with International YMCA. During the trip, these 10 students, along with one NYIT staff leader, spoke with some of the families living in extreme poverty about how water was being distributed and handled. The information they gathered has led to several soon-to-be-implemented solutions that could help solve the water pollution issue in impoverished villages in Peru. The group then went on to plant trees and build a playground which took many hours of hard physical work; but it was all worth it when the villagers expressed their delight in having a new safe place for the children to play. The group of students also spent time at an orphanage connecting with children and giving them the attention and affection they so desperately needed. The trip lasted 10 days, but the impact that it made on both the volunteers and the people they helped in Peru, will certainly last on.
When spring break came to an end, the group had to say their good-byes and make their way back home with a sense of accomplishment and a bittersweet feeling in having to leave a place that beheld such inspiring and humbling moments in each one of their lives. But the story does not end there. Dyesha Durm, one of the participants of the trip, was so touched by the experience that she returned to Peru on her own for the entire summer that same year. She has also been selected to be a student leader for this year's trip to Peru which now involves 13 students. This year, the program plans to resolve some of the water pollution issues documented during the first trip by introducing new water purification technologies and safer storage techniques. Following in the spirit of the first trip, they also plan to volunteer at an orphanage and work on ecological and construction projects. The ultimate goal of the program, besides providing a valuable learning experience for the participating students, is to implement lasting solutions to some of the issues impacting developing countries like Peru.
So this brings us back to me talking to my bathroom sink. I thought about all the times that I cursed at it for taking a little too long to let out hot water. Then I thought about the villagers in Peru who kept their water in buckets and basins, rationing it out throughout the day and perhaps reusing some of it. Derek Tao, a friend of mine who was one of the 10 students that went on that trip to Peru, recalled his experience to me. He told me about a bold young boy in Peru named Jack who, no matter how bad his living conditions were, always seemed to be happy. And you know what? I think Jack has got the right idea. If only we can all just be happy and appreciate the things we have. Boy, does this kid have life figured out! To donate to the cause, follow the link below. Your donation will be greatly appreciated! Please be sure to specify the designation of your donation to Alternative Break - Peru.
DONATE HERE: http://www.nyit.edu/giving_to_nyit/donate
Jeremy Ducos just checked in by phone from Peru. The group is doing really well. Phone service is limited as they are situated on the top of a mountain. It is 94 degrees and they have been building a soccer field. By the end of the day the students are exhausted, but express gratitude for the opportunity to work with each other and the community. Jeremy says that the group is amazing. They've jelled very quickly and act more like family than friends. More than anything else, he says the group is moved by the happiness of the families that have hosted them, despite the extreme poverty in which they live. When the group returns they will share photos and videos of the towns they are working in and the living conditions of the townspeople. Jeremy describes some homes as having two rooms housing sometimes seven family members. The homes have no running water and dirt flooring, but the life inside the home is loving and joyous.
After volunteering at the orphanage and meeting and interviewing community members, the group has already committed to carrying on their work when they return to the States. They've discovered that for many townspeople in the area, by the time kids reach their teen years, girls become pregnant and boys join gangs. Prospects for upward mobility are very limited. The cost of the best education in Lima, however, is only a few thousand dollars. The group has already discussed committing to maintaining a relationship with one young person apiece. They will do this by handwritten letters in order to check in and encourage the child to stay in school. Ultimately, their hope is to fundraise enough money for their child to get a better education to increase their chances for better health and greater success.
The group is sad that it is already Wednesday. They don't want the trip to end.
10 NYIT students left on Saturday, March 19, 2011 to volunteer in a community called Independencia, Peru. They will work on clean water and composting projects. When not working in the field they will be volunteering at a local orphanage spending time with @25 children aged 2-12. Independencia is a very poor community with limited access to clean water. Each morning, families fill jugs for their daily water (for drinking, cooking and cleaning). They need help from our students to identify more efficient and sanitary ways of storing and collecting water. The composting project is to reuse and renew all raw materials to garner life from waste. They want NYIT guidance on how to maximize benefits from waste material and ideas for new alternative energy uses.
The Experiential Education Program in Career Services developed NYIT’s Alternative Break Program after nearly 300 students responded to a summer email with interest in participating, or learning more, about such a program. This first trip was developed in collaboration with longstanding community partner the International YMCA, which runs 8-10 of these trips for NYC teens each year at various YMCA’s across the world. We’ve received tremendous support for this project from the whole Division of Student Affairs, especially Student Activities and Leadership Development and Career Services. The students are being led by Jeremy Ducos, NYIT's Assistant Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development, and by the International YMCA's Kelvin Eng. To learn more about Kelvin, see his biography below.
The following ten NYIT students currently on the trip are: Cindy Chan (Architecture), Renny Pacheco (Grad Student Environmental Technology), Derek Tao (Electrical and Computer Engineering - Nanjing student), Freddy Germosen (Computer Science), Jiayi (Claire) Zhong (Com Arts Grad Student), Marisela Nunez (Behavioral Science), Vicky Adelson (Nursing), Dominic Kalathivila (Life Science Bio), Shabia Rehmat (Life Science Pre-Med), and Dyesha Durm (Nursing).
Kelvin was born in Queens, NY and has attended Elementary school to College in Manhattan. He attended Stuyvesant High School and graduated from Baruch College with a degree in Computer Information Systems. Kelvin used his network he built up while working at the law firm of Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP. as a Network Administrator to provide computer consulting services to other law firms and small businesses. This led to Kelvin’s desire to share his computer knowledge with young adults.
To accomplish this desire he took on a part time position at the West Side YMCA Teen Center as a Computer Teacher and Teen Career Connection advisor. He is currently the IT Director of the International YMCA and his responsibilities lie in ensuring that the International’s computers, databases, web sites and its network are running at full capacity.
Being a native of New York City native Kelvin enjoys spending time to learn about the various cultures that make up New York City. Kelvin enjoys reading about technology and finance on his spare time. His hobbies include hiking, bowling, boogie boarding, traveling and learning about other cultures which means trying their food J.
Kelvin loves nature and exploring new places. A few interesting places outside of the United States he’s been to have been Costa Rica, Hong Kong, South Korea, South Africa, Panama, Peru, China, and Canada. His family is from Hong Kong and he had the opportunity to first visit Hong Kong with the Global Teens in 2006. He returned to visit Hong Kong and other parts of China in 2007. He is excited to share his culture and experiences with the young adults and adults and hopes to aid in enhancing their knowledge of Peru and its culture. Kelvin also hopes to show the young adults and adults that there’s a huge world outside of New York City and hopes they will use this volunteer experience as a stepping stone to continue to help others less fortunate then them and have a better cultural understanding of people that might be different then them.
I recently ran searches for several job openings. One search was for a professional staff position in Career Services, and the other was for several student staff positions for the Community Service Centers. The applicants couldn’t have been more different. Candidates applying for the professional staff position submitted resumes highlighting relevant work experience and educational training. Most cover letters referred back to the job posting, and candidates highlighted related skills and identified the top reasons for which they should be considered for the job. Spelling and grammar were nearly perfect. Student applicants could learn a bit from these job seekers.
NYIT students made quite a few errors in the application process. Granted, students have little to no experience applying for jobs, so it is understandable that they’d lack the sophistication that the professional candidates demonstrated. They did, however, make some very undesirable mistakes in the application process. Here are the 6 biggest mistakes they made.
1. Many NYIT student applicants did not follow the application instructions. Applicants were advised to submit their resumes to me and to copy another recipient. Only about half of the students who applied actually sent their resumes to two of us. Students were also asked to answer a question as part of the application process. Very few actually did this.
2. Emails and cover letters were painfully informal. Each time I saw a lowercase “i” used as the formal pronoun “I”, I had to resist from pressing the delete button. Some applicants did not even proof their resumes or cover letters before submitting them, as was evident in the misspellings and grammatical errors. Professional emails – to anyone other than friends – should not use IM language.
3. Resumes were not tailored to the position for which the candidate was applying. Biology and Architecture majors sent in resumes with objectives that read, “To obtain a position in Biology, or to secure an internship in Architecture”. No positions were posted in those areas. Always make your resume reflect the position you are seeking.
4. Applicants did not make it known for which position they were applying or on which campus. I had no idea which position some students wanted, especially if they had an unrelated objective, lived in MA but took classes on OW, and did not mention for which job they were best qualified.
5. Some students addressed me as “Dear Sir,” yet I am a woman. When the position you are seeking is on the campus in which you study, it is not too difficult to find out a little about the department or the staff posting the position. A little research goes a long way. If unsure of the hiring manager’s gender, even after you do some investigative work, stick with, “Dear Amy Bravo” (use full name), or “To Whom It May Concern”. A simple call to the Human Resources department could help clarify some basic questions.
6. While follow-up is essential, harassment is unnecessary. If you submit your application on Monday, then calling on Friday to ensure your resume was received is acceptable. If you submit your resume at 10am on Monday, and then email and call 3-5 times a week thereafter, that is a bit too much. Oftentimes, the hiring process is overwhelming and is not the only responsibility of a person coordinating the process. Incessant calls, emails, and impromptu in person “follow-up” visits are not only inadvisable, they are off-putting and can be the only reason you wouldn’t get the job.
After reviewing dozens of resumes for the Community Service Centers, I felt it necessary to comment on the “”throwing spaghetti on the wall” application process. John Hyde, the Dean of Career Services says that when students send resumes to any and every job opening in the hopes one would get them a job, it is similar to throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping that at least one noodle will stick.
I propose that you make your job search more intentional.
You and the hiring manager should know which job you are seeking and why. Most importantly, you both should know why you are the best candidate for the position. If you need help with your resume or cover letter, preparing for the interview, or with brushing up on your professional etiquette, visit Career Services in Salten Hall-OW or room 611 in 16 West 61st Street. Or you can visit us online (www.nyit.edu/cs) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here (online 24/7) to help.
Save the Spaghetti for the celebration dinner you’ll have after you get the job!