A group of Clark University student-athletes spent their holiday break participating in the Clark Athletics Service Learning Trip (CAST) to Guatemala, where they conducted research on ecotourism and led sports development activities for area children.
Watch a video about the CAST trip here.
The nine-day international service trip was the brainchild of former men's tennis captain and current graduate student Harris Rollinger, B.A. '13, M.P.A. '14, who received funding and support from the University, Clark Athletics andSeven Hills Global Outreach (SHGO), a Worcester-based non-profit organization that supports humanitarian efforts in more than eight developing nations. Rollinger used funds from the Thomas M. Dolan '62 Outstanding Service Award he received last fall to start what he hopes will become an annual opportunity to allow Clark athletes to practice first-hand the University's mission of global citizenship.
Prior to the trip, the student-athletes partnered with Real Futbol Training and the Little Grasshoppers, who organized soccer equipment drives to collect sports equipment and school supplies to bring to Loma Linda.
While in Loma Linda, the students spent four days leading more than 90 children ages 4-13 in sports activities designed to promote individual development, cultural sharing, education and team building. They spent the rest of their time working with David Jordan D.H.A. M.P.A., president and CEO of the Seven Hills Foundation, applying research he had begun on Loma Linda's ecotourism business during a previous trip. As an adjunct professor at Clark, Jordan teaches Social Entrepreneurship and has taken more than 100 Clark students on similar trips to help developing communities in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Bangladesh, Kenya, Haiti, Jamaica, Brazil and New Orleans over the past four years.
Ashley Emerson Gilbert '09, director of SHGO, and Jesse Mattleman '11, assistant director of SHGO, also worked with the Clark students and helped to strengthen their organization's partnership in Loma Linda.
According to Professor Jordan, trips such as these "get to the core values of Clark and certainly of the Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) initiative in terms of a liberal education."
"Students come back changed…transformed, and inspired about what power they have in changing the world, one small piece at a time," he said.
SHGO supports many travel abroad activities, Gilbert noted, and through the years has supported internships, international conferences, courses and more.
Before, throughout and after the trip to Guatemala, the students posted profiles of participants, photos and trip updates on their Facebook site.
"I've studied abroad twice and I've traveled to a decent amount of countries, but I've never had an experience that compares to my CAST experience," said Rollinger. "As the lead student organizer and trip founder, watching these students grow and come together not only as a team, but as a family, is a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my life."
"This group of students took action and for the nine days we were in Guatemala, they made Clark's motto, ‘Challenge Convention, Change Our World,' a reality," he continued. "I cannot imagine having a better group of students on the first-ever Clark Athletics Service Learning Trip."
Other students who accompanied Rollinger on the trip include: Aaron Segura '14, Rachel Spera '14, Jenna Zarou '14, Rose Koerner '14, Liz Gomes '15, Courtney Pharr '17, Spencer Brightman '14, Robert Holden '17, and Dennis O'Brien '15. Clark graduate student and former student-athlete Hana Chamoun B.A.'13 M.P.A.'14 helped lead the group.
The CAST group will host a Pictorial Journey and reception on Thursday, Feb. 20, from 6:30-8 p.m. in the John and Kay Bassett Admissions Center, 1 Maywood Street, Worcester. The event is free and open to the public.
For a video of Harris Rollinger talking about the trip (footage from fall 2013): http://clarkvoices.clarku.edu/tag/rollinger/
The trip, as featured on the Clark Athletics webpage: http://www.clarkathletics.com/News/2013-14/CAST_Release
A Boston Globe story about the trip: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/west/2014/01/16/lexington-harris-rollinger-clark-athletes-lend-helping-hand-guatemala/W02Xmg0THrk5HCc34fzniJ/story.html?s_campaign=8315
A feature on the Clark Athletics' website about Harris Rollinger's awards: http://www.clarkathletics.com/sports/mten/2012-13/releases/20130509d9ub86
www.asodill.org (partner organization in Guatemala)
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark's faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University's motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.