Thanks to the foresight and generosity of alumnus Fred H. Parkin ’59, the Parkin Fellowships for Global Service Endowment Fund was established June 15, 2006. Parkin Fellowships award travel grant money each summer to assist students in completing service or environmental projects around the globe. These experiences make an impact not only through the direct service or environmental improvements that students engage in, but also through the stories students share upon their return, stories that enrich the Shady Side community while inspiring others to make a difference in the world.
- 2017 Parkin Fellowships
- 2016 Parkin Fellowships
- 2015 Parkin Fellowships
- 2014 Parkin Fellowships
- 2013 Parkin Fellowships
- 2012 Parkin Fellowships
- 2011 Parkin Fellowships
- 2010 Parkin Fellowships
- 2009 Parkin Fellowships
- 2008 Parkin Fellowships
- 2007 Parkin Fellowships
- 2006 Parkin Fellowships
Jeanne Lauer '18
Jeanne traveled for three weeks in Seville, Spain, to work with troubled and marginalized children through several workshops that entailed teaching the children English, leading art & crafts activities and tutoring children
Shaila Fye '18
Shaila spent two weeks in the Dominican Republic, through Global Health Initiative, working to improve the quality of health care of impoverished children and adults
Christian Taylor '18
Christian traveled for three weeks in ShaXi, China, through ZenQuest, to improve the natural world by engaging in varying acts of environmental service.
Shwetha Shinju '18
Shwetha spent four weeks in Kerala, India, to make the government aware of the negative effects that burning waste has on the environment.
Shivam Patel '18
Shivam traveled for two weeks in the Dominican Republic, through Global Leadership Adventures, to help local doctors treat patients who are physically hurt, work on building projects that will help neutralize the spread of disease, assist in therapy and help jumpstart a healthy environment for rural families.
Sophia Del Sole '18
Sophia spent two weeks in Sri Lanka, through Projects Abroad, to focus on teaching English and caring for children and special needs children living in underdeveloped areas in order to promote their educational, physical and mental growth.
Leila Skinner '18
Leila traveled for two weeks in the Aida Refugee Camp, West Bank, through Volunteers Organization, to assist with developing and improving the garden land, and learn about socio-political issues affecting Palestinians.
Ananya Satyawadi '18
Ananya spent three weeks in Belize, through Global Leadership Adventures, aiding in the conservation of marine and tropical ecosystems and helping to improve the literacy of the children in Belize. Read about Ananya's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Arjay Mehta '17
Arjay volunteered for two and a half weeks in Chennai, India, with Crossover Basketball Scholars Academy to organize camp, mentor children and teach basketball. Read about Arjay's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Ashvin Dhawan '18
Ashvin spent three weeks in Cusco, Peru, through Global Leadership Adventures working to improve public health by building a greenhouse at a school, cleaning burning stoves for families and repainting school classrooms and buildings. Read about Ashvin's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
James Dollard '17
James returned to Yamasá in the Dominican Republic for three weeks to continue work with Father Leandro Blanco to improve the living situation and community for the people in the town. Read about James's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Julia Johnson '17
Julia spent one month in Chang Mai, Thailand, working with Thai Freedom House, to teach English to adult and children Burmese refugees living in Thailand, and to help out in the restaurant.
Mehr Jalil '18
Mehr volunteered for five weeks in Islamabad, Pakistan through Citizens Foundation Project, to create an arts and crafts curriculum for elementary school students. Read about Mehr's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Rakesh Ravi '17
Rakesh returned to Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India, through Rising Star Outreach to work with children in the leper colony. Read about Rakesh's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Shelby Latterman '17
Shelby volunteered for one month in Madriz, Nicaragua, with AMIGOS to create, lead and support a summer program through Plan International. Read about Shelby's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Sameer Annamraju '17
Sameer spent two weeks in Montana at the Blackfeet Native American Reservation where he built homes and worked with tribal leaders to help preserve the land given to the Blackfeet by the U.S. government. Read about Sameer's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
- Parkin Fellows: Browning, Montana
- Parkin Fellows: The Chronicles of Browning: the Sundance, the Ramp, and the Garden
Annika Dhawan '17
Annika volunteered in Dharamsala, India, where she worked at child care centers for families who cannot afford to send their children to preschool, ran a summer camp for the children and helped out in the homes of the Kareri village. Read about Annika's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Mario Lagnese '16
Mario volunteered for two weeks at an orphanage and school for the blind in Tanzania. Read about Mario's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Arman Lateef '17
Arman spent four weeks in India working to expand First Aid and CPR training in rural villages. Read about Arman's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Noah McDaniel '16
Noah spent three weeks at the Kigio Wildlife Reserve in Kenya, taking on numerous tasks such as wildlife indexing, endangered species research and monitoring, invasive plant removal, road maintenance, anti-poaching patrols, construction of water holes, building/maintaining tree nurseries, and habitat restoration. Read about Noah's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Juliana Sandford '16
Juliana volunteered for two weeks in Guatemala teaching indigenous children at a local school. Read about Juliana's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Cronin Wilkes '17
Cronin spent three week in the Amazon Rainforest developing a Portuguese-to-English DVD specific to the needs of indigenous people as they apply it to an Eco Tourism business, allowing them become more familiar and comfortable with the English language.
Emily Winterhalter '17
Emily volunteered for two weeks at hospitals in Bolivia, shadowing and helping doctors treat patients in various hospitals and departments of this developing country. She also traveled to orphanages to assist with dental outreach and visited rural areas to assist in providing medical care to the young and elderly who do not have access to it. Read about Emily's experience on the Global Learning Blog:
Mara Barron '15 returned to her birth land of China, volunteering with Lifeworks at the China Little Flower organization in Beijing. She cared for and played with children with and without medical problems, worked in a shop that benefits China Little Flower and learned about Chinese culture first-hand. She said, "I think people actually do underestimate how over time, little things can accumulate into becoming great things. The children we worked with might not remember each and every one of us, but they will remember how well they were taken care of and how they were happy and smiled." Read about Mara's experience.
Nico Bodkin '16 joined a group of volunteers from Global Vision International in Giannistochori, Greece, where he monitored the beaches of Kyparissia Bay, home of the Mediterranean Sea's second-largest nest of sea turtles. He learned first-hand about the effects of pollution on the natural world. He noted, "This project has really put everything into perspective and made me think more about conservation, because the little things we do every day (e.g. recycling) really do count." Read about Nico's experience.
Shaan Fye '16 built a functional, organic garden in the backyard of a youth care center in Cordoba, Argentina, with the goal of providing fresh, nutritious vegetables for the center. Although it was winter in Argentina, he created raised beds and planted crops and flowers from weed-laden ground. Reflecting, he said, "I find within myself more empathy, enthusiasm and willingness to immerse myself in foreign situations than ever before. In essence, Argentina has given much more to me than I have given to her." Read about Shaan's experience.
Armaan Jethmalani '16 volunteered at Umang, a special needs school in Jaipur, India, where he introduced the Best Buddies concept to local high schools – a program that pairs students with special needs students to enjoy simple things like the mall, museums or sports. At the end of his trip, Armaan said, "I want nothing more for the students than to have extra friends that talk to them and take care of them. I feel that special needs students do not get enough social interactions outside of school and this will certainly give them an opportunity to explore a life that would be completely new to them." Read about Armaan's experience.
CJ Keim '16 traveled to Athens, Greece, where he worked with the nonprofit organization Boroume ("we can" in Greek) to collect and distribute food. CJ learned about food waste and homelessness, and has since joined a local organization to address these issues. His takeaway was, "Never think you can’t change something you feel strongly about – look at what just four committed, passionate and humble individuals have done at Boroume." Read about CJ's experience.
Krishna Patel '15 volunteered at the East Takai Health Care Practice in Auckland, New Zealand, where he helped to provide screenings and counseling to individuals and families without health care. While there, he learned about the indigenous Maori and Polynesian populations. He marveled, "This experience was truly enriching as there is nowhere else where I would have been able to learn so much about this particular group of amazing people." Read about his experience.
Alison Thai '15 returned to her father's homeland of Vietnam, volunteering at Christ's Church Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City. There she cared for the children, serving as a teacher, playmate and caregiver. Alison reflected, "I truly saw good work being done. The sisters at this orphanage put all their energy into giving the children the love and care they needed." Read about Alison's experience.
Sophie Abo ’14 traveled to Vestri-Petursey, an organic carrot farm in southern Iceland. While there, she worked with a team of international volunteers tending to carrots, weeding and milking cows, while learning about Iceland's sustainable farming techniques and renewable geothermal energy resources.
Philip King ’15 traveled to the Galapogos Islands, Ecuador, with a program called Project Abroad. While there, he coached a children’s basketball team and worked with an autistic child in the local kindergarten.
Anna Malone ’14 spent one month in Ladyville, Belize, working at Liberty Children’s Home. She worked with children, ages 3-15, who where orphans, had suffered abuse, were handicapped or affected with HIV/AIDS. She completed a variety of tasks, including working at an on-site summer camp, cleaning and spending time with the children.
Akul Mitra ’14 volunteered at an orphanage in Sing Buri, Thailand. He provided medical care and first-aid to children in need, as well as taught English and math, assisted with the expansion of the compound and helped with building maintenance.
Madison Taylor ’14 traveled to Hekima Place, a faith-based home for girls in Kiserian, Kenya. While there, she mentored 40 girls, serving as an after school tutor and a manual laborer around the compound.
Rebkah Tesfamariam ’14 traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she volunteered at Kidane Meheret Care Center. She worked with orphan children, ranging in age from newborn to 17. She cared for and fed babies, and taught older children in math and English.
Vinay Umapathy ’15 spent two weeks at the Kigio Wildlife Reserve in Kenya, Africa. He lived at the wildlife reserve and participated in a variety of conservation projects, including giraffe surveillance, alien plant removal, bird census, a town cleanup and community outreach at the local school.
Sophie Wecht '14 traveled to Tecoman, Mexico, where she contributed to the night watch for a project to protect sea turtles. While on watch, Sophie rode down the beach, extracting eggs from nests to place in the protected grounds of the organization. Once hatched, she would escort the turtles safely to the ocean. Sophie also participated in a biodiversity study that focused on crocodiles.
Taylor Duncan '13 traveled to Panama for two weeks to work at a center for malnourished children. Taylor’s efforts helped the center to combat the child malnutrition problem in Panama, which affects 68% of indigenous children ages 6-9.
Carianne Lee '13 taught English to students in Haojiping, a rural village in the Hunan province. The four-week trip was the second time volunteering at the school, which allowed her to further develop relationships with her students and act as a mentor for new volunteer teachers.
Aya Agha '13 taught English at a vocational school and volunteered at an orphanage in Pemba, Mozambique. With a GDP of about 1,000 per capita, Mozambique is one of the world’s 20 poorest nations.
Selina Yosseff '14 volunteered for 10 days on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which is the home of the Lakota Sioux Native Americans. Her group of 11 volunteers worked to build a house for the White Bull family and help other members of the tribe who live in poverty.
Tarah Wright '14 volunteered at a community center in Senegal and also helped in the construction of a daara, which is a center for teaching the Koranto children. The community center houses children who were abandoned by their parents.
Maggie Elias '13 taught English at a school in Tanzania for her Parkin Fellowship. She also volunteered at an orphanage and helped to care for the babies living there.
Athif Wulandana '12 traveled to Jogjakarta, Indonesia and volunteered with a temporary shelter for three weeks. The shelter was founded to house refugees from Mount Merapi's eruption. Athif, along with volunteers from local colleges, learned about disaster management, organized events for the refugees, and tutored children. During this time, he also lived in the shelter complex for two weeks.
Campbell Nilsen ’12 spent twenty days in Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuttiaq), Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic, working with the Nunavut Literacy Council and the local cultural center as an intern, helping with mailings and publishing. The Nunavut Literacy Council works to increase literacy in all four official languages of Nunavut, but especially in Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun. He also helped preserve artifacts and worked with children at the local cultural center.
Tess Rosenbloom '12 traveled to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. She spent her time working in an impoverished Haitian refugee camp, where she taught English to the children. She also organized and led activities in which they participated.
Jacob (Jack) King ’12 traveled to Costa Rica to volunteer with Projects Abroad in the National Park Barra Honda. The park is situated above an intricate cave network and as recently as several decades ago was only farm land until the natives made an effort to conserve the ecological wonders of the region. For four weeks, King spent his time working with local park staff to maintain the park and to do nature observations with the park biologist to record ecological data trends.
Alex Levy '12 traveled to Kishorit, a kibbutz in northern Israel for adults with special needs. For three weeks she lived and worked with the members of Kishorit, as well as a group of Israeli volunteers that had been living there for the past year. She spent time working doing various tasks, ranging from serving meals to taking care of horses.
Shivum Bharill ’13 traveled to northern India for three weeks, completing a self-designed program with the local medical college in Amritsar, Punjab. He took water samples from villages and tested them to ensure they were fit for consumption. Bharill then advised these villagers on how to keep their water supply safe. He also visited an immunization clinic, which provided most necessary vaccinations to the community free of charge.
Joe McMahon ’13 spent three weeks traveling throughout Ecuador with a Global Works program. During his time there, he helped initiate the construction of a therapeutic playground for a children’s rehab center. Joe and his group then made a stop in a lodge in the rainforest of Ecuador to learn about the culture of the indigenous and the life in the rainforest. Joe finished his trip with a homestay in a rural village in the Andes Mountains doing various projects for and with the inhabitants.
Elisa Borrero ’11 traveled with Putney Global to Santa Teresita, Belize. The group was immersed in the new culture while building an indoor plumbing system for the community. She also completed additional projects including painting a community building and building a playground.
Shannon Kirk ’11 began her program in Valle Grande, Argentina, with Putney Student Travel. The group spent a few days getting acquainted with the culture and geography, and then spent the remainder of the time working in small groups to complete the construction of a classroom space. She also taught English in a local school and volunteered at a national park.
David Lembersky ’12 joined the Earth Watch Institute along the Amazon River in Peru for 15 days. He learned about the local ecosystems and conducted research on five unique expeditions. Lembersky and a group of six additional students focused on discovering ways to protect the local ecosystems after loggers illegally chop down the rainforests.
Vivek Nimgaonkar ’12 traveled to Gudalur in southwest India to work with the Adivasis people. In the Gudalur area, the Indian government and private enterprises have slowly encroached upon land that belonged to the Adivasis. Nimgaoankar worked with Accord, a group of lawyers, to preserve the land and better the healthcare for the Adivasis. He spent time at local hospitals, focusing on the sickle cell program, which has a high prevalence in the region.
Rashaad Phillips ’12 participated in the Global Leadership Adventures program, traveling to Ghana, West Africa for 21 days. Phillips lived at the home base in a coastal town called Anloga, which is two hours away from Ghana’s capital, Accra. He went to local schools and orphanages to teach English, mathematics and science. The trip provided him with the unique opportunity to visit the home of his African ancestors.
Katie Prochownik ’11 spent three weeks in Uganda as part of a self-designed independent study. She taught English at local schools, focusing on her passion for creative writing. Children at numerous local schools completed stories, using narrative writing and proper paragraph structure. Prochownik is currently working with faculty member Elizabeth Garvey to compile the Ugandan children’s stories into a narrative book for her senior thesis.
Samantha Schwartz ’11 traveled to Arusha, Tanzania, for three weeks putting a self-made pen pal program between SSA Middle School students and Tanzanian students into action. As part of the Bricks + Books Foundation, in which she has been active since 2007, Schwartz spent time volunteering at local schools and writing responses to their pen pals letters.
Melissa Wolz ’11 spent three weeks at Pro Vita Orphanage in Romania as part of the United Planet organization. The orphanage houses children, mothers and babies, and adults with both mental and physical disabilities. Wolz spent most of her time with a group of 12 adult women who grew up without normal social contact in state-run orphanages during the Communist reign and were unable to care for themselves. She also spent time building a garden and restoring furniture for the community.
Shannon Achille ’11 – Shannon traveled with a group called Rustic Pathways to their rice fields base in Udon Thani, a city in northwest Thailand. Shannon focused on teaching Thai children English, math and sports, as well as giving them swimming lessons. She also shared information about organic family practices and techniques to eliminate the use of pesticides.
Tory Bruch ’10 – Tory participated in the Putney Student Travel’s Malawi Global Awareness in Action program, traveling throughout villages in Malawi, Africa, to help spread AIDS awareness and provide hospital assistance. The last destination was the Luwawa Forest Reserve, where students prepared for their conference at Yale with other Putney Global Actions groups and shared their experiences.
Kelly Casey-Latterman ’10 – Kelly traveled with the Crossroads Foundation to the Banareng region in Africa, where she was part of the new village community. She helped the Sekororo African tribe to build a pre-primary school, which was the first school for the village. It gave young children who were previously unable to attend school the opportunity to be educated.
David Jimenez ’11 – David’s program began in the village of Ollantaytambo in Peru with Putney Community Service. The group spent a few days getting acquainted with Peruvian culture and geography, then spent the remainder of the time working in small groups alongside locals and skilled craftsmen to complete the construction of classroom space. He also made adobe bricks, taught in the local school, assisted at the trucha fish farm and prepared meals for local school children.
Jamie Kurke ’11 – Jamie traveled to Tanzania through the Global Routes program. The program was broken up into three basic parts: in-country orientation, community service/cultural exchange and travel adventures. The program’s contribution to the village was the construction of a school and helping teach English to natives. Jamie learned about the ancient culture of the Bantu tribes on the remote island of Zanzibar, Africa, the birthplace of Swahili.
Jeffrey Shogan ’10 – Jeffrey participated in the Global Routes program, traveling to the Chiang Mai province of Thailand. Jeffrey spent his time teaching local children and involving himself in various building projects. He took away a great understanding of the Thai culture by living with a Thai host family.
Giovanni Zenati ’11 – Giovanni joined the Armenia Tree project in the mountains of Caucasus, located in the country of Armenia. He had learned that the lack of natural resources, coupled with poverty and the effects of a devastating earthquake in 1998, have led to extensive loss of forests in the region. Giovanni worked in tree nurseries and was very instrumental in sharing his knowledge regarding environmental concerns.
Sonum Bharill '09: Sonum traveled to Australia's northwestern coast for two weeks as a volunteer at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. She assisted with zoo and environmental projects, such as cleaning and monitoring beaches and waterways. She also visited modern recycling facilities and communities based on sustainability and green design.
Katherine Brill '10: Katie traveled to Xi'an, China, for five weeks with the Cross-Cultural Solutions program to accomplish the service project of helping to educate children of low-income communities in the subjects of science, music, sports and drama. She also helped care for disabled children at a local orphanage.
George Domat '10: George traveled to New Zealand and Australia for four weeks with the Global Works volunteer program. He worked alongside 15 other volunteer students, as well as local volunteers, on an ecological reserve where he completed conservation work, reforestation and the cleaning of local harbors.
Elizabeth Diggs '10: Elizabeth traveled to the Dominican Republic for three weeks with the Global Routes summer volunteer program. Initially planning to be part of the construction of a water tank for the village of Jarabacoa, she learned that she would aid in the construction of a local women's center. Her group helped to protect women's rights, raise environmental issues and advocate for preventative health care.
Logan Handelsman '09: Logan, volunteering with the Global Routes summer program, spent two weeks in Puerto Rico to assist in the rebuilding of impoverished villages that were destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. He also traveled to the rainforest to be part of community service projects that included construction of research facilities for resident scientists and educating school groups on the importance of rainforest conservation.
Aurelia Henderson '09: Aurelia participated in a three-week project in Padua, Italy, with the assistance of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, in collaboration with the Miriam and St. Anthony's bread projects. She volunteered at a shelter for immigrant women and children who are victims of human trafficking.
Basyl Stuyvesant '09: Basyl participated in a four-week opportunity with the Putney Program, located in the Pali District of Rajasthan, India. While there, he taught English to children in underserved rural areas who otherwise receive little, if any, education.
Kathryn Vincett '09: Katie traveled to Senegal, Africa, with the Putney Program to participate in an international service and environmental program. During her four-week stay, she assisted with the construction of irrigation systems, taught English to children and learned how the African health care system is dealing with the mounting HIV problem.
Hannah Berkowitz '08: Hannah traveled to Ghana for approximately one month with the Global Routes High School Summer Volunteer Program. She traveled to a village near the city of Cape Coast where she assisted in the construction of a new school or library and assisted local farmers in their fields.
Alexandra Bodnarchuk '08: Alexandra traveled to Medzilaborce in Northeastern Slovakia for two weeks, where she taught English at St. Nicholas orphanage.
Hannah Foster '08: Hannah traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia, for two weeks, where she volunteered at a local orphanage for handicapped children and served a community of poor families, all connected with the Society of the Sacred Heart. She took crayons, coloring books and other arts and crafts to teach to the local children.
Sam Heuck '08: Sam will travel to Haiti with John Fisher for three weeks to work with the Albert Schweitzer Hospital conservation program and Snavely Forest Products. The project involved research on reforestation of trees that will survive and thrive in Haiti.
Nia Phillips '08: Nia attended the "Sun, Sand and Community Service School " hosted by Rustic Pathways. She traveled to Fiji to teach English and music to elementary school children as well as assist with the repair and upkeep of the local school grounds. She also assisted with many other smaller community service projects where needed.
Luke Racek '09: Luke traveled to San Salvador, Bahamas, for a week to participate in Earthwatch's Bahamian Reef Survey Project at the Gerace Research Center. This study focused on the impact of environmental changes on the coral reefs in the area.
Charlie Rosenthal '09: Charlie participated in a Global Routes program, assisting to construct an addition to a local school in Nepal for five weeks. He also participated in several local service projects while there.
Anna Rued '08: Anna traveled with the Putney Community Service Student to Vietnam for one month. There she worked in the village of Son My, assisting in building brick homes for the local population in an area often ravaged by flooding. She also taught English to local students.
Laura Bagamery '08
In the summer of 2006, Josh Falk and I spent two weeks in Chiapas, Mexico with the Perez family, whose youngest son, Orlando's, education is sponsored by the club Chiapas Connection. During our stay, we spent our time doing farm chores for the family, chopping wood and tending to the needs of the coffee trees that the extended family harvests and sells as free trade coffee beans. Because it is Orlando who must usually perform such chores, he cannot get a summer job as most men his age do to pay for college. Also, his family cannot afford to hire additional help during his absence. Thanks to our efforts, both this past summer and now, and through the money we still raise at school, we were able to aid the family and to help provide Orlando with his family's first university education. He hopes to find a job involving computers. Our time spent in Chiapas was absolutely incredible. By extending our schoolwork on the Tzotzil language and through our more traditional fundraising during the school year, we were able to learn something essential about hard work and dedication that extends far beyond the classroom.
Laura Daigneau '07
I went to the British Virgin Islands where I lived on a catamaran for three weeks with nine other teens and three counselors. We traveled to different islands performing different community service projects, such as repainting the entrance to a church, beach and city clean-ups, mangrove reforestation, playing with local children who were in summer school, and, most exciting of all, catching turtles for research purposes. My favorite part of the trip was getting to meet the local people who helped us with the projects; they helped me see a new perspective of life. Overall, each of us did over one-hundred hours of volunteer service.
Joshua Falk '08
Our international service project took place in Chiapas, Mexico. The project involved distributing used clothing acquired at Shady Side Academy to members of a local Mayan community and then assisting the community with various tasks, including work with the coffee plants. We spent eleven days in San Cristobal de las Casas, a city in Chiapas . Each day, we traveled to San Pedro Chenalhó, a rural agrarian community in Chiapas . After our work, we spent afternoons studying Mayan culture and Tzotzil, the language spoken in the community, with a native speaker. I would like to thank Mr. Parkin for this amazing opportunity and I hope the project will continue to benefit Chiapas and the Shady Side Academy community.
Vijay Kedar '08
The Parkin Fellowship allowed me the wonderful opportunity to experience an environmental and community service expedition to Costa Rica through the organization Eco-Teach. I traveled to San Jose , Atenas, Alajuela, Pacuare, Fortuna, Arenal, and Puntarenas. The primary focus of the trip was to help in the conservation of the Leatherback turtles. Consequently, most of the time was spent at the turtle reserve, a turtle conservation establishment in the Costa Rican rainforest. During the days, I, along with my group, cleaned debris from the beach, constructed walls for nearby homes, and engaged in a number of community service projects. At night, we traversed the beach in search of Leatherback turtle eggs. Once found, we transported them to our turtle hatchery: a stretch of the beach that had been cordoned off for the safe hatching of turtles. Once the turtles had safely hatched, we released them into the water. In this way, the turtles were safe from predators such as birds, crabs, and crocodiles. Aside from the time spent at the reserve, I have a number of memorable experiences including counting scarlet macaws for an official parrot conservation survey and zip lining through the rainforest canopy at 300 feet above the ground. Throughout the trip, I was able to observe the immense Costa Rican biodiversity including howler monkeys, poison-dart frogs, spiny lizards, exotic butterflies and an array of plant species. Furthermore, I became immersed in the Costa Rican culture, living with Costa Rican families, and learning a little Spanish in the process. Overall, my trip was an adventure that I will remember for the rest of my life. I sincerely appreciate the generosity of Mr. Parkin, who made the trip possible, and am very grateful to him. I have been changed by my experiences in Costa Rica and hope that other students will have the same opportunity in the future.
Mara Leff '07
As I walked along the river that ran through the small Kenyan village with my host sister Ayeiko, I gazed at her in awe. Her gorgeous skin glowed in the setting sun and the silhouette of her perfect posture and delicate neck stood out against the red and orange sky. On top of her head rested a large bucket of water. She walked barefoot along the water's rocky edge, never faltering, while the bucket remained steadfast atop her head. She asked if I would like to try and apprehensively, I accepted. I hoisted the bucket to the top of my head but could barely make it a few steps before I had to grab it as it began to fall. I handed the bucket back to her, and with great poise and grace she walked the rest of the way back. My trip to Kenya was filled with moments like this. Living in a village in western Kenya and constructing a classroom for five weeks challenged me to look inside myself to find those small things in life that I seldom appreciate. Staying with a family and giving up my everyday luxuries was incredibly rewarding. My time in eastern Africa truly made me appreciate my life and the privileges that I have been fortunate enough to have. Along with the other eighteen teenagers in my group, we were able to create a learning environment for over fifty children. I saw what one person could do in a community. I now understand the importance of perseverance; one person can truly make a difference. Memories of my trips to the river with Ayeiko will stay with me forever. Her bright smile when we unveiled the classroom, and then her tears when we departed, are images that I will never forget. With incredible gratitude to Mr. Parkin, I thank him for giving me an opportunity to make a small difference in the village.
Carlie Marous '07
During this trip, I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Guatemala for one week with a group called SurgiCorps International to participate in a medical mission trip. I spent a day in Patzun, Guatemala with a group of approximately eighty young orphans ranging in age from three-weeks-old to sixteen-years old. I helped out by doing small jobs around the orphanage in addition to helping the children with their English homework and playing games with them in their free time. But the majority of my trip took place in the city of Antigua, Guatemala where I worked in the operating rooms in a local hospital aiding Pittsburgh-based plastic surgeons and general surgeons. These surgeons, for the most part, treated and corrected cleft pallets, cleft lips, burn scars, gallbladder disease, and hernias. My duties consisted of taking pre-op and post-op photography of our patients and their wounds, running instruments to and from operating rooms, compiling medical files, and assisting doctors with whatever needed to be done. I had the amazing opportunity to scrub in with one of the doctors on two of her cases; one being the removal of extraneous digits on a patient's hands and feet, and the other case correcting a severe burn scar which involved taking skin grafts. In these two cases, I was the physician's main assistant and I was accountable for handing the doctor instruments, blotting, and assisting with the stitching of the wound. This trip was incredibly eye-opening, not only because I was exposed to such a large range of medical work, but also because I had the opportunity to react with an entirely different and unique type of culture in a context that, here in the U. S. , would never been possible. These people were in such dire need, as Guatemala is a third-world country, and had no financial means to correct their potentially harmful medical conditions. By the end of the week, my medical team had treated roughly eighty patients and brought many smiles to loving family members. Medicine is a field that I am very interested in and I am strongly considering it especially after such an incredible volunteer trip.
Elizabeth Modoono '08
I was awarded a Parkin Fellowship to perform community service in Costa Rica for four weeks. I went through an organization called Putney Student Travel. I lived with sixteen other high school students from around the U.S. I was the only person from Pennsylvania. Our main service project was to help construct a bridge over a river in the small village of Zaragosa . This task was very labor-intensive and took us the entire four weeks to complete the job. Costa Rican construction workers supervised the project and we provided them with labor. We had to move large rocks from the site, shovel out dirt, and carry away bags of dirt on our backs. We also mixed cement by hand and filled buckets of cement for the Costa Rican construction workers. At the end of the four weeks, we completed two cement end supports for the bridge. The work definitely was hard and challenging, but also very rewarding. I really felt that I helped to make a difference in this Costa Rican village. The Parkin Fellowship provided me with an opportunity to take a risk, to do something by myself, and to grow as a person. It was an amazing experience, and one that I will never forget.