Thursday, May 12, 2011

The End is Nigh (Proszek)

Boxes upon boxes, bare walls, and summer expectations -- Summit isn't Summit anymore. Before I go let's take a look back at what this year has been like:

If I had to describe Summit in just one sentence it would be this: You don't know what you have until it's gone. I've done my fair share of complaining about the project, the house, and the class over the past two semesters. But if I really think about it I've had a great time with my group. When Andrew handed me the certificate for the class I realized that the classes we had taken were also worth it. And as for the project? That tree still looks great.

The most beneficial aspect of Summit, to me, is the resume building component of the experience. Having the ability to tell potential employers that I have engaged in a leadership community wherein I educated young minds about sustainable living is an important part of my college experience. This opportunity has made me a much more appealing candidate for internships and possibly entry positions on my career path.

The greatest thing I learned about living in Summit was compromise. I am generally a person who does the whole "my way or no way" style of living. However when you have three other guys in the same living space (something that is new to me, having only one brother) you cannot control everything around you. People have their own habits and lifestyles and at some point you have to stop being so damn stubborn and meet them halfway. It's funny that I say this in principle because I am the worst at putting my own advice into practice. Still, learning is learning just the same.

Our biggest impact is on the Boyd Community. The Green Team at Boyd was a good idea but did not have the necessary funds to keep going year after year without someone to get the parents more involved. Thanks to our help with the garden and other events the parents would not be as involved with Boyd's commitment to sustainability. I feel that without our group the Green Team would not have been as successful in the coming years at it will be now.

Not living in Summit meant that I would have lived off campus. Honestly I'm not quite sure how it would have changed my experience. I know that I would have spent less time on campus and that has both pros and cons. I know that it would not have given me the career opportunity that I needed but that isn't really related to the overall experience, not directly anyway. Overall I'm glad I lived in Summit but I'm not quite sure how living elsewhere would have changed the experience for me.

There's 3 things I would change:

1. Classes- Instead of once a month on a Friday how about once a week for 1 hour, 3 times a month. This would make blog submissions and activities much easier to facilitate and would give students some regularity instead of saying, "Oh yeah we have Summit this week, just do it every week.

2. Community- The groups really didn't know much about each other, not much of a community. Having a retreat that lasts one weekend for Summit residents could be helpful in creating a better community. I like that we have the socials, but they don't really promote the community as much as try to sustain it.

3. Coursework- I liked having the blog but this could be so much more useful to the students if it were formatted as a portfolio for job opportunities. The blog can be a big part in showing employers how students integrate social media with their work. If we make a portfolio as the big part of class I think it wold be more beneficial than small homework things.

The one piece of advice I would give to Summit groups is to know what you have before you leave -- an opportunity. As many hardships as you will face this semester, always remember that you were picked from a large group and that you have been given a privilege to make Drury a bigger partner in the community. Don't let that slip away. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Adios, Summit!

Our last Summit project culminated with the even we've been organizing for months: the Green Carnival! It was a great event to say goodbye to our awesome project and kids at Boyd, who came out and enjoyed all the games we had set out for them, as well as all the prizes and booths that we helped put together. There were kids getting their faces painted with Desiree, playing Green I Spy with Drew, Taylor and I, posing for pictures with Amy and Anna, and given information bags by Jimmy. This coincided with Earth Day, and the day was beautiful and enjoyable at the circle with all the local stores and coffee shops coming in and presenting their organic treats to everyone.
We also packed the car twice with all the recycling we've been doing, and it made me realize it would be one of the last trips, if not the second to last, we would make to the recycling center for my entire Sophomore year. I'm going to miss Summit, working with my roommates at Boyd, the kids over there (especially Amelia, the really cute child that would always attend our meetings) and living in the best houses on campus. Summer is here in a week, and I'm looking forward to returning to Guatemala and bringing back a few of the things I picked up while living in Summit (such as the recycling of all these different materials) and Skyping with the people I've grown used to seeing every day at my home here. Gracias Summit, Adios!

Goodbye Summit, Hello Summer!

Overall, my Summit experience has been characterized by some frustrations, lots of successes, and countless memories with our group.  Not only will I have my Summit experience to reflect on when I do group work in the future, I will also be able to use the project that we have done to build my resume.  I think the best thing that I have learned from Summit this year is that even if you encounter frustrations or problems along the way, if you simply continue trying to make your project work you will be able to get the results you wanted.  We set out with an extremely ambitious calendar for our project, and in spite of all of our frustrations and miscommunications with each other and our organization, we were able to still accomplish all of the goals we set. In conjunction with the teachers at Boyd, I think our group has made a real impact on all of the kids we have worked with at the school. Teaching them basic environmental principles, we had really great feedback from both the kids and the teachers ensuring us that we made a lasting impression on them. Had I not been given the opportunity to live in Summit this year, I think my sophomore year would have been much less of a learning experience than it was.  Developing time-management, communication skills, and the basics of how to plan and implement a successful lesson plan or activity with the groups we met with at the school, this year was a great opportunity for me to fine-tune my leadership skills and learn how to work on a long-term project.  The only thing that I would have changed, in retrospect, would be to set out better communication agreements for our group to have been able to avoid a lot of the troubles that we ran into. Ultimately we were able to resolve our communication issues much better during the second semester and better coordinated with each other's schedules, but it would have been nice if we could have figured this out sooner.

For future Summit Groups I would recommend to set out really clear, tangible goals for you year. Set a calendar and really try to stick to it as best you can to ensure you can make all of the things you want to happen a reality. And, finally, figure out at the beginning of the year how you will best communicate with each other , and a system of accountability to ensure that everyone does their fair share of the work.

Thanks for a great year, and I hope everyone has a great summer!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

The End's Not Near (It's Here)

1.       In just a sentence describe your Summit Experience this past year?
It was cool. 

2.       What aspects of Summit do you feel will be beneficial to you as you continue your Drury experience?
There were two major aspects of my Summit experience - the living situation and the volunteer work. Both the living situation and the volunteer work helped me to work better within a community of people. I have gained skills in communicating my thoughts and listening to others' ideas. For the rest of my life I am going to be in situations where I have to work with people in order to accomplish and individual or common goal. Summit has taught me the skills I need to work well with others. 
I have also learned to be patient and deal with problems as they come to me. Sometimes things happen outside of my control, and when working with a group of people there are even more factors that are outside of my control, because we all have to work with one another and accommodate for each others' needs and wants. 

3.       What was the greatest thing you learned from living in Summit Park?
The greatest thing I learned form living in Summit Park? That's tough to say. I've learned a lot about working within a team, and working with others and educating them about a cause. As a result of living in Summit and working with our cause, I have also learned a lot about living sustainably. 

4.       What impact do you feel you have made on the community along with your agency and why?
I think that we have taught some bright young children about how to live sustainable. We've taught them that they aren't helpless against huge issues like climate change or deforestation or pollution. I think we've done a little bit to raise awareness about the importance of the environment. We've worked with the kids, and some of them maybe have heard us talk, but didn't really listen. But I think that of all the kids we've worked with there were a few kids who we did affect, and that makes it worth it to me.  

5.       If you would have not had the chance to live in Summit, how would have this changed your experience at Drury?
I would not have had the chance to become as close with my current housemates. I wouldn't have had a chance to meet and and teach and learn from all of the people at Boyd Elementary. I also wouldn't have learned as much about the other nonprofits in Springfield, the ones that other Summit Park participants worked with. 

6.       Looking back at the Summit Experience over the past year what would you have changed and why?
I wouldn't have changed anything. I think some things could have gone more smoothly, but we learned valuable lessons from the "mistakes" we made. 

7.       What is some advice you would give to future Summit groups?
Be willing to compromise and work with one another. Realize that you're all in this together, so do what you can to help, and your team members will look at you as an example and be motivated. Take into consideration that nonprofits are difficult to get a hold of sometimes, but stay persistent. Persistence is key to getting anything done. No matter what you do, you'll run into difficulties, but you just have to take it in stride. The world is a massive place, but there's a place in it for you. Let go of any desire to control everything you do and everything that happens to you, because it's not going to work. Instead accept every situation you encounter and every person you meet for exactly who they are, no better and no worse. 


Well, That's All She Wrote

My Summit expierence--although only for the past semester--has been eye-opening.  I think that what I found most interesting was how I relate to school-age children now that I am a young adult.  Even working with high school students as a college student was something I had never experienced before, and becoming accustomed to that atmosphere will be important down the road.  It's something that I know I will be using this summer because of where I will be working and it will definitely be beneficial for me as I continue to be involved at Drury.

The greatest thing I learned from living in Summit Park had to be the status achieved.  Living in a residence hall or apartment is something that every Drury student does; Summit Park has a certain vibe about it.  I remember seeing the surprised look on some of my peers' faces when I walked into the first Summit meeting of the semester.  It shows how significant it is, both for other Summit Park residents and for those doing other things here at Drury.  That idea of status is something that I think has had the most impact on the community.  We chose to do this community service project because we felt that it would have a strong impact on kids, teachers, parents, and other community members.  It definitely has; just look at the pictures we have of smiling faces and that direct effect on the community is very clear.

I don't really think I am fit to answer the question of what I would have done if I hadn't lived in Summit Park because I didn't for half the year.  I feel very fortunate to still have a strong relationship with my former roommate (and replacement), suitemates, and fellow residents that I left behind.

There are some things about Summit Park that I would like to see changed, both within my group and in the way the program is set up.  As for the group, I think we need to do a better job of performing tasks based on what we are good at.  I felt like some of us were doing this, but others were left without a task to do and looked somewhat uncomfortable in their roles.  This is something that we could have planned for and addressed early on, and I would advise future Summit Park groups to do the same.  As for the program itself, I think it needs to become more community-oriented rather than individual-oriented.  I certainly learned quite a bit from Drury's career planning office and the lady who talked about credit and managing money, but those don't really apply to the true meaning of Summit Park: community activism.  I think that Summit Park class meetings in the future need to be tied to the groups and their service projects and to other community programs that we could benefit from through observing the way they affect people's lives and emulating that in our own work.

Since this is my last post and my farewell to this blog, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to replace a great guy in the Think Green at Boyd Elementary group.  I hope my work has been appreciated by everyone, and I wish everyone a great summer and best of luck in the fall.

-Drew Kemp-Baird

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Over and Out

My Summit experience this year has been so full of challenges, dedication, hard work, achievement, and, above all, FUN! :) As I spend my next two years at Drury, I will definitely continue to benefit from the work that's been done through Summit. I've developed so many contacts with people around the Springfield community, and I've established a reputation for myself with important people connected to Boyd, Central, and even the Drury administration. If I wouldn't have lived in Summit this year, my experience at Drury would have been marked with more individual volunteer work and much less involvement around the Springfield community.

The greatest thing I learned from living in Summit is that it really is possible for a group of students to make a true impact on their community. That being said, I feel that the impact we've made can be seen, not only at Boyd, but also at Drury and in the surrounding community. Visibly, we've planted flowers at the Victims Memorial Garden, we're going to be planting a tree behind Summit Park, and we've worked at the Community Garden. Not so visibly: we've educated 220 Boyd students on the importance of sustainability and environmentalism.

In hindsight, if I had the chance to change something about Summit, it would be involvement in making our house carbon-neutral. We did attempt to make changes to this, but I don't think we were as adamant as we needed to be to see some actual action.

My advice to future Summit groups is get started early and work until the end. The sooner you contact your organization, the faster you can get to volunteering and the more impact you will have!

Peace out Summit! What a long, strange trip it's been. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Month Left (But Who's Counting?)

Between our summit project, classes, and other extra curriculars, the month of April has been an extremely busy one. Although the spring semester always seems to be an extremely busy one, our group has found time to continue our work at Boyd Elementary in some new and exciting ways.  While we generally do more hands on work at Boyd, this month has mostly been geared towards planning and preparations for some of the big events we are going to hold in the next couple of weeks. Amongst these things we have been planning for is our biggest, most exciting event: the Green Carnival we will be hosting at Boyd.  At this Carnival we will be coordinating with Boyd faculty and staff to maximize the amount of time that kids will be able to come out onto the playground and participate in all of the exciting booths we set up. From recycled crafts to planting plants, we hope that the Green Carnival will be a fun, interactive way to teach the kids at Boyd how to be a bit greener, and how to have fun doing so.
Over the past month one of the most difficult issues our group has run into is coordinating times that work for the whole group to plan for the Green Carnival.  We have partnered with a group from Central High School who will be working with us to make the Green Carnival a success. While this partnership has been extremely helpful in delegating all of the work that needs to be done, it has been frustrating trying to coordinate times to meet with them since they are limited to meeting right after their school gets out at 3:00 pm.  IN spite of this, however, different members of our group who are free at that time have been very committed to going over for every meeting and working to get everything lined up.
As far as the rest of this semester is concerned, the Green Carnival will be our biggest project, but we also have some smaller, fun events to set up too. Amongst these is a fun little community project going on this Sunday where our group is meeting with Paula Tindell, a woman from the Springfield community who works to maintain a memorial garden at Phelps Grove Park.  Working with Ms. Tindell, our group will be buying and planting flowers in memory of victims of crimes in Springfield. Along with this, our group will be doing a Summit Social here in the next couple weeks, more details to to follow on that so stay tuned!

Happy April!!
Anna Regan

Friday, April 15, 2011

April Showers Bring Cool Lightning...

Although I missed Summit class today and this blog post isn’t quite on time, let me tell you that the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City is phenomenal.  Check it out even though the website is far from doing it justice:

I feel that just the past week has had the most opportunities for me to help out the group since joining at the beginning of the semester.  My final project in Design IV was due at the end of March, so hopefully I will be able to continue to increase my involvement even more.  Still, what I have is an update from the “Eye Spy” group of Taylor and myself with regard to the upcoming Green Carnival.  We took pictures on Thursday afternoon of various objects being hidden in everyday imagery, took some pictures with minute changes between them, and even took some with blatant examples of littering (we picked up afterwards, of course).  We will have eight 18x24 boards for the Boyd kids to challenge themselves with next Thursday that I will have printed at the architecture building ASAP.  I was very excited to take charge of this Green Carnival activity, and it will certainly be something that Taylor and I can be proud of.

One of my challenges over the past month has been—as with most people—time.  As I previously stated, my final studio project was due at the end of March, and I felt that every second I had (waking or not) was being spent at the architecture building.  I was mentally and physically drained, and it was taking a toll on my ability to work on the project at hand and communicate with the people in the house.  Fortunately, the project is done, so I will hopefully be around more.  This may be why I feel that the most substantial thing I feel that I have to report on has occurred within the past week.  Still, in my opinion, the timing of the Green Carnival couldn’t have been better.  I am really looking forward to seeing what our overall product is at the Carnival next Thursday and at the rest of our events for the semester.

-Drew Kemp-Baird