Engaging in Life-Changing Experiences

Courtney Kamiya is a senior at OSU studying finance within the College of Business. Below she talks about the numerous service activities and trips she has participated in through the Center for Civic Engagement — experiences she describes as life changing and eye opening.

Ever since I was little I was taught to always give back when I can and to always stay involved within my community. I’m from Hawaii and back at home there are so many different opportunities to get involved with amazing organizations. When I was in high school I volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House of Hawaii, the Special Olympics and the food bank. Through volunteering with these organizations when I was younger, my love for volunteering and getting involved has grown. I always want to get involved with service and its something that I really enjoy doing during my free time. I have participated a lot with the Center for Civic Engagement here on campus by doing service projects and service trips.

Through the CCE I have participated in the MLK Day of Service, where I volunteered with Corvallis Parks and Recreation to trail surface, remove invasive species and perform a cleanup. I also have participated in the Day of Caring. I learned that even though it’s just a few hours out of your day, you’re making an impact. This stuck with me. I came to realize that no matter how small the service project may seem I still made an impact within that community. Making that small impact is important and at the end of the day it is something that I’m proud of.

Courtney Kamiya packing boxes during Alternative Spring Break

Courtney Kamiya packing boxes during Alternative Spring Break.

During my first year I was a part of the Alternative Spring Break trip that the CCE organizes. This is a week of learning and service that takes place in three different locations. My freshman year I went to Yakima, Washington. During this trip we did service work within the Native American and Latin@ communities. We helped teach English to recent Latin@ migrant workers, assist with after-school children’s programs and complete projects with members of the community experiencing homelessness. This was a life changing experience and very eye opening. It taught me a lot about these different communities, things that I never knew before. I was never familiar with this city within Washington, let alone these communities. When I got there it was interesting to see what the location was all about. Also during this service trip I was able to work with fellow OSU students. We were all of different majors, but came together because we had an interest in service. Some of the relationships that I built on this trip are relationships that I still hold today.

During my junior year I was a part of another Alternative Spring Break trip and this time I went to San Francisco, California. During this trip we focused on factors that impact hunger and homelessness in San Francisco. We participated in service projects that addressed these issues — like volunteering at food banks and nonprofits. Again, this trip was very eye opening and life changing. Before this trip I had made generalizations about the houseless and homeless communities. I learned quickly that all of these generalizations and stereotypical ideas were wrong. It taught me to keep and open mind when it comes to issues and topics like these, because more than likely our previous assumptions are wrong.

This year I’ve been given the opportunity to co-lead the spring break trip to San Francisco. I am excited to be going back, but also excited because I get to lead this year, which is a different role from the past. I am in charge of coming up with the itinerary for the trip as well as coming up with the pre-trip meetings with my co-lead.

My experience at OSU has been amazing. In the future, I want to go back home to Hawaii. Though I don’t anticipate my job will directly relate to community service, the experiences I’ve had are something that I want to carry with me for the rest of my life. I want to stay involved with my communities. It’s not just about giving back and helping out because it’s the right thing to do, it’s about helping out a community and helping people help themselves.

—Courtney Kamiya

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