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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sure signs of Spring..

Sure Signs of Spring!
So being that it is after Spring Break, you would think there would be no more cold temperatures. Well, West Lafayette was in for a surprise on Sunday! Not only was it cold, it snowed! But this post is not about the cold temperature; in fact it is about the day after, Monday! You can tell it is close to spring time here at Purdue by the following pictures. The first one you will notice is the trees blooming near Stone Hall, ahh it is so nice to see some color!

Second you will notice students around the fountain studying, or in this case taking a nap (lucky them)
Lastly, it is that time of year for Purdue Student Government Elections! Elections run from Tuesday to Thursday this year and you would go to get involved to vote, I provided a link so you can check it out!
( http://www.getinvolved.purdue.edu/Community?action=getMyHome ) Yes, all around
campus you will see chalk, like this… and signs, like this…. With temperatures in the 60’s all week it is a great time to be around campus!
That’s all for now,


Monday, March 30, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime pt 2

Thursday we visited a children’s hospital. This day was emotionally draining, but also very rewarding. We visited a couple different wards of the hospital and delivered beanie babies and hygiene kits to the children and their parents. There was no air conditioning in the wards…keep in mind that the weather in Cartagena is around 85 degrees and humid year round! The children were so happy to see us. They especially loved blowing bubbles and receiving stickers. While at the hospital we also worked on painting a mural in the outdoor courtyard. JR’s niece had sketched out the design and we started the painting. We didn’t get it quite finished but it was starting to look pretty awesome!!

Friday was a day off from volunteering. We visited the Islas del Rosario, a chain of about 28 islands and a national park area. We specifically went to Cocoliso island and it was absolutely beautiful!! It was nice to spend some time just relaxing on the beach!

Saturday was my favorite day, but also the most challenging. We spent the whole day at Villa Gloria, one of the poorest villages in Cartagena. It is less than 30 minutes outside of the city, and yet the people there live in shacks. Most of the children did not have shoes on, and there was trash everywhere. Despite the dismal living conditions, the children and people here were some of the happiest that I had encountered. The children gave us the biggest hugs in the world! The little girls would give us hugs after hugs and then stand with us with their arms around our waists. We again passed out clothes, shoes, education kits, hygiene kits, toys, and stickers. The children were so grateful and it was very rewarding to bring them so much joy. When I was walking back to the bus on our way out, one of the little girls ran up to me and leapt straight into my arms for a big hug. It really brought home the fact that what we did over the course of a week means the world to these children. I was really sad to leave the village. If I could have I would have brought back all the children with me to the US!!!

We returned to the United States on Sunday March 22nd. I was definitely sad to come back, although eager to return to my friends and family. The people in Colombia were all so friendly and happy to welcome us to their country. Their culture is rich in music, dancing, and history and I loved learning about their traditions. Colombians are also much more affectionate than Americans; their custom greeting is a hug and kiss on the cheek. The country and city are absolutely beautiful, and I would not hesitate to visit again. This trip will hopefully be offered again, and if you have the chance to go I would highly recommend it! Happy traveling!


The Experience of a Lifetime!

Hola amigos!! My spring break was spent a little differently than most this year. I was blessed with the opportunity to go on a study abroad trip through CFS and also in conjunction with Ambassadors for Children(AFC), a non-profit in Indy that was founded by a Purdue grad! We went to Cartagena, Colombia and spent about half of our time volunteering and delivering donations at four different sites: Fundación de Semillas Esperanzas, Fundación de Jesús, a Children’s Hospital, and Villa Gloria, one of the poorest villages in Cartagena. Read on to learn about the specifics!!

We embarked on our journey early on Sunday morning, March 15th. Our flight left from O’Hare at 6am! We had a connecting flight in Fort Lauderdale. Most people think of Colombia as being really far away, but it’s actually only about a 2 ½ hour flight from Fort Lauderdale! Once we arrived in Colombia we were greeted by some local high school students and the family of our AFC trip leader (JR). JR is a native Colombian and it was apparent throughout our whole trip how passionate he is about his country!! Sunday afternoon was spent at our own discretion, and Sunday evening we had a welcome dinner at a restaurant in the old city of Cartagena. The old city is absolutely gorgeous!! The pictures definitely do not do it justice! After our welcome dinner, I went back to the hotel and crashed…it had been a loooong day of travel and I was exhausted!!

Monday was spent touring the city. There is so much history around Cartagena, and we covered just about all of it! We visited the San Felipe Fort which was built in the 1500s by the Spaniards. It’s huge! We also had a chance to go down in the tunnels of the fort. Other places of interest that we visited were La Popa Monastery, the Old Shoes monument, the Historical Museum, and the Inquisition Museum. Monday night, JR’s family invited us over to their house for a cooking lesson. We made traditional Colombian foods such as empanadas con carne, empanadas huevos, and arepas dulces. It was delicious!

Some of our group at the Fort-notice the beautiful city in the background!

Our group with JR's family after our cooking lesson

Tuesday we went to Fundación de Semillas Esperanza. It’s kind of like an after-school program for the children of the community. They learn about proper hygiene, manners, how to be good citizens, and Bible stories. The children here performed the traditional dance of Colombia, the cumbia, for us and also taught us how to play their instruments. We passed out backpacks, shoes, education kits (with basic school supplies), administered fluouride treatments, and generally just played with the kids! The kids were really eager to learn English. In the picture below you can see Joe, a CFS student majoring in financial planning, helping one of the little girls with her English. Tuesday afternoon we went to a Mud Volcano! It is one of only 3 in the world!! The mud is so dense that it holds you up. In order to move around you have to grab onto someone else and be pulled towards them! It was a crazy experience, but so awesome!!

The Mud Volcano was a once in a lifetime experience!!!!

Wednesday we visited Fundación de Jesús, a preschool in one of the poorest areas of the city. The preschool serves about 100 local 3-6 year olds. These children were the most precious I have ever seen in my life! They also played music for us and danced with us. We again passed out donations and just played with the kids. AFC has a sponsorship program through this preschool in which one can sponsor a child for only $20/month. Myself and one of my sorority sisters/fellow CFS student/Cartagena traveler decided to join together to sponsor one of the children (picture below). We were able to meet our little girl and everything! We will receive her report card and picture updates of her periodically. It was a lot of fun to play with these children. Despite the language barrier the kids here are just like kids everywhere else…they love to laugh and smile and play games!

Suzanne and I with the student we are sponsoring
through AFC

One of the students at the school, absolutely precious!!

Tune in tomorrow, for the second installment of Leslie's Colombian Adventure!

Friday, March 27, 2009

When Mortar Board Goes Tapping...

So yesterday was quite an exciting day! Three gentlemen came into my resort management class singing “When Mortar Board Goes Tapping, Goes Tapping…” they announced me as a new member. Mortar Board is a senior honors society in which members raise money to provide scholarships and conferences on campus. (Here is a link to their site: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~mortarbd/) Immediately after class I went to Teresa’s office to hear her shriek with excitement! The reception was in the evening, where I was able to meet the current members and the 40 new members for next year. It was an overall experience that will not be forgotten.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Day in the Life of Josh

Today was one of those crazy days in your college life! It started off early around 8:30 when I awoke to the pleasant sound of my cell phone going off. I hurried to get ready as I rushed to church to do my weekly office hours. At 11:00 I left the church and rushed to Stone Hall for a luncheon at the John Purdue Room with the new department head candidate as well as five other students. The lunch lasted roughly an hour as we asked the candidate questions related to their experience in the industry, where the industry is headed, and what ideas he could bring from his current university to ours. After lunch I hurried back to my house to check my email and work on a few papers for classes that are due in a few weeks. Around 3:00, Caroline and I went on to campus to see Miss Teresa Eloff. Yes, in case you were wondering who she is she is the director of undergraduate recruitment, well the secret was out! It was her birthday! After spending some time with her Caroline and I walked from Stone Hall over to Beering Hall of Liberal Arts. Here we had our follow up meeting from our study abroad trip to Dubai and Oman over winter break. The meeting lasted for about two hours, as we went over what we enjoyed the most, what we liked the least, and what improvements could be made for the future trips. I went ahead and posted some pictures just so you could see some of the highlights! That’s all for now!

Me in front of the tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai

A view of Burj Al Arab from one of the hotel tours.

Caroline with a view of the Oman Mountains in the background