Archive for February, 2009

February 28, 2009

February 28th, 2009 by emhest09

I am currently tucked into a sleeping bag on an army cot wondering how on earth I made it to Waverly, Virginia without a hitch! It’s hard to believe that at 7:00AM this morning we were pulling out of the gates of Holy Cross, not knowing what to expect at the end of the 10 hour drive we faced.

This morning, we packed up the two rental vans as best we could (14 people, everyone’s duffels and mountains of snacks made for a pretty tight squeeze) and left campus right on time. Our group only had three drivers so we rotated every 2 hours, that way no one drove for over four hours at a time. We drove through Baltimore and then got rather lost when the navigator in my van (ehem, BRIAN) missed a sign for an exit. Luckily we had a native of Virginia in our car and got to take a different, quicker and more scenic route around Washington D.C. and we could actually see most of the city when we passed over a bridge nearby. The toughest section to get through was probably Virginia, not because of traffic or anything but because it was getting late and it started to rain, not a good combination! We made it through though!

When we were about 20 minutes away from Waverly, I called Pastor Drew who was our host for the week. I cheerfully told him we were about 20 minutes away and the silence that followed was a bit nerve-wracking. Turns out there was a bit of a miscommunication and we were not supposed to arrive until the following day…you never would have known it though with the reception we got! Both the Waverly A group and the Waverly B group arrived at about the same time and, even though we interrupted a wedding party, we were welcomed with open arms. We got a tour of the church, Lily of the Valley Deliverance Center, then heard from Pastor Drew about the various projects we would be undertaking and how they would help in the community and with the church. We all went out to dinner at Giuseppe’s, an Italian restaurant down then street, and it was great to finally meet the people and see the place I had been wondering about for weeks.

Most of us are currently passed out in our recently assembled army cots, but there is music being played in the church (the room we are sleeping in is the community room attached to the church by a short hallway). It’s certainly a good way to fall asleep and I can’t wait until tomorrow when our time here truly begins!


Appalachia 2009!

February 27th, 2009 by emhest09

For the third year in a row I spent my Spring Break doing an Appalachia Immersion Trip. This year I was actually a group leader for 13 students who headed to Waverly, VA on February 28th. We had the unique experience of having another Holy Cross group join us as well as a group from Boston College so we had 42 total volunteers at the site. The Spring Break Immersion programs work to immerse students in a culture different from what is found on Mount Saint James and gives us a chance to reflect, through prayer and nightly reflections within our small groups, on the blessings, challenges and goals of our own lives. I had a truly eye opening experience in Waverly and I formed connections that I know I will remember fondly and always cherish. I kept a journal, knowing I would blog when I got back so here are some of my thoughts, pictures and videos to capture the time I had there!

February 27, 2009

February 27th, 2009 by emhest09

How in the world did February go by so fast? I know it is the shortest month but I just can’t believe it is March already! The passage of time was something I was forced to think a lot about this past week when the senior class had their “100 Days Ball”. 100 Days is a dance just for members of the senior class that supposedly marks 100 days until graduation. My roommate Kena did the math and there were actually only 91 days but I will take the extra nine if the college is willing to give them! The dance was a lot of fun and a unique experience to have a great event just for my class; the Purple Key Society did a great job planning it and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Last week was also a big one for the Holy Cross Men’s basketball team. On Saturday they played our big rival Bucknell….and lost. It was really heartbreaking but I did enjoy seeing the randomness of some Holy Cross students. In the attached picture, see if you can spot the chicken (no, I am not joking). The game on Wednesday made up for it though, we beat Navy in a real nail-biter! The game was especially fun because my grandmother, aunt and two cousins came up from Holyoke to see the school and watch the game with me. It was great to see them and having my parents come the next day was another treat! We walked around campus (well, my mom and I did while my dad sat in the room with a broken foot). I showed off the new science complex and then made a trip to the bookstore WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING! That’s a big achievement, believe me.

It has been a fun-filled past couple of weeks but what I have really been looking forward to is Spring Break, specifically Appalachia! This will be my third time going to Appalachia through the Spring Break Immersion Program  and this time will be a little different because I am a group leader. My group of 14 students will be driving, yes driving, 10 hours to a town called Waverly in rural Virginia. There is another Holy Cross group at our site and a Boston College group as well and it seems like we’ll be doing some construction work, lots of painting and even some dirt moving. We will immerse ourselves in the community there and work to make it better in any way possible. Waverly is also home to the world’s oldest peanut museum so that will obviously get a visit. All kidding aside, I really cannot wait to head down there. It may not be as relaxing or tropical as Florida or the Bahamas, but I feel that doing a service program like this leaves you spiritually and mentally invigorated, though maybe not physically. I attached a picture of my group from sophomore year (Rural Retreat, VA) and junior year (Glasgow, VA)…can’t wait to add more!

I have written so much about the Appalachia program in some of my applications for programs after graduation that it comes as second nature now. I am currently applying to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) and the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) program. I will definitely write more about those as the time for decisions gets closer but my next entry will probably be full of lots of exclamation points and excitement over my week in Virginia. I will have many pictures and probably some videos, wish me luck!

Lovefest 027

February 15, 2009

February 15th, 2009 by emhest09

You know you are from New England when you break out the flip-flops the minute it goes above 45 degrees. We have had a stretch of nice weather which has definitely helped in melting all the ice around here and while more snow is predicted for the upcoming days, at least it won’t keep building up! School has been moving right along, I can’t believe there are only 13 days until Spring Break!

Speaking of Spring Break, I am going to be spending my 7 days on an Appalachia service trip for the third time in a row. Holy Cross has numerous immersion programs but there is a special place in my heart for Appalachia. Each year about 250 students spend their break in either the Gulf Coast or Appalachia, living simply and trying to make a difference within a community doing everything from demolishing houses, to painting bathrooms to working with students. This year I am lucky enough to be a group leader and will be headed to Waverly, VA with 13 of my classmates. I can’t wait and obviously many pictures and videos will be taken so you can all see what it is about!

There is still a lot of work to be done in my classes before leaving however and since I just realized I never described what I was taking, I will do that now! I have to say I am a bit proud of myself and my ability to plan ahead. As a double major in History and English I am currently in 2 elective courses in my last semester of college, not too bad for having to take upwards of 20 classes to fulfill both majors! One of my electives is Introduction to the Old Testament with Professor Murphy. I haven’t taken a religion course since freshmen year even though I work in the department and it is great to study a part of the Bible I am not as familiar with. My second elective is education: social & political change with Professor Dobles and by far my favorite part of this class is the CBL (Community Based Learning) that goes along with it. Every Thursday afternoon as part of the class I go over to Heard St. school in Worcester and work with two third graders (Brooklyn and Brittany) in an after school program devoted to preparing for the MCAS tests. I have grown very close with them and I love being around kids and helping them learn.

My other two classes are fundamentals of music and artist’s books. I took the music class to fulfill my art requirement and it is something I have always wanted to take so I can learn to read music again (I played the guitar until 6th grade) and learn to play the piano. Artist’s books is my last English class to fulfill the major though it is something completely different from any other English class I have had. We study books with the viewpoint of an artist and since the course has a studio art portion, we are working on making our own books through printmaking. To give you some idea, the first day of class Professor Sweeney brought in a delicious cake which had “I am a Book” written across it and pages made out of icing. We spent the majority of that class trying to figure out what constituted “a book” in the traditional form. My favorite part of this class so far would have to be the field trip to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester; it is truly a hidden gem! We toured the stacks of over 2 million newspapers, manuscripts and prints, all made before 1876…it was a librarian’s dream come true!

Next week will be a bit stressful with papers and tests, but I am looking forward to presenting at two information sessions for Admissions! On Tuesday and Friday at 11:15 in Rehm library I will help talk about admissions, the application process and Holy Cross in general in prospective students. Hopefully all goes well!