I remember during a study abroad information session my freshman year where the presenter created a metaphorical chart of happiness post time abroad. Right upon return, happiness is at an all-time high because you get to reunite with family and friends, and then it dips to an ultimate low because you realize that all the things you had tried to escape from (for me, graduate school applications and impending graduation) comes catching up to you. After that dip, happiness comes slowly back to your “base” happiness before you left in the first place. I have gone abroad twice now: the first to Thailand, and the second to India. When I returned from Thailand, the transition perfectly followed the sequence I [...]
Of course, the title is substantiated on what you’re getting yourself into. I can’t guarantee your chances of camping out on the Siberian tundra, but your chances of surviving a study abroad or an international service trip is pretty dang high. When I told my Chinese mother that I wanted to go to Thailand for a semester, she panicked hard. She worried that I would be forced onto a rice farm, and that the spicy diet would render me malnourished. To my mother’s surprise (but nobody else’s), I was not forced onto a collective tenement, and in fact was able to eat very clean during my four months in Thailand. When I told her I wanted to spend about 2 [...]
Angela W. is a senior studying biochemistry and human rights. She was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2017 from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU. She is spending the summer volunteering in Chennai, India, with Unite for Sight, an NGO that supports eye clinics.
The past two months at Ambue Ari have gone by unbelievably fast. It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in the park, and listened in awe as people casually talked about walking their pumas or jaguars in the middle of the jungle. I can’t believe how quickly I took part in those conversations without realizing how crazy and amazing the work we were doing really was. I had the opportunity to help Wayra move from a small cage into an enclosure that felt more like a small jungle surrounded by some fencing. Me, with Wayra in her new cage. Having lived her entire life in the same place, we had no idea how she would react in [...]
I’ve been in the park for four weeks now, and I’ve decided to extend my stay by another three weeks. The work we do here is simply unbelievable, and I do not want to leave. I have been working with a female puma named Wayra in the mornings, and a male puma named Carlos in the afternoons. I will be working with these two pumas for the duration of my stay. Wayra the Puma Over time we develop a relationship built on trust, something that can take weeks with certain animals. Constant change of volunteers would be too stressful for them. Carlos the Puma Every morning I wake up at 6:30, prepare my breakfast and walk [...]
Antoine M. is a junior studying world languages. He was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2017 from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU. He is spending the summer volunteering with Parque Ambue Ari, a wildlife center in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Finishing up my last week here at Austin Street is bittersweet. I feel privileged to have met so many interesting people, from the dedicated employees, to the selfless volunteers, to the guests themselves. People like Laura and Doris, who manage the front intake desk several days a week, and whose only response to those irate guests are warm smiles and helping hands. Volunteers like Jessica, who has been volunteering at the shelter for years, and due to that dedication has swayed her employer into offering all of the employees a weekly "volunteer day" if they so wish. Amazing employees like Monica, who went from being a guest here at Austin Street many years ago to getting her Masters degree, to now being in charge of one of our most important women's programs. I [...]
An update from M.B.A. student Diane S.: It’s 6 a.m. on a humid summer morning, and I’m standing in a commuter lot at SMU anxiously awaiting our departure to one of the most unique opportunities to date that I’ve ever had. We were about to hop on a bus and start our tour through the South for our “death row” trip. Yes, you read that right. Fifteen of us were going to spend 12 days visiting death row facilities and various human/civil rights organizations in Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana, among others. The trip, organized by the Embrey Human Rights program at SMU, aimed to educate students and community members about the intricacies surrounding the death penalty, but also the implications [...]