Buenos Dias! Our first week gone—Where did the time go?*

[the what] When I first landed in Cuzco, Peru, I was immediately hit with altitude sickness. Never thinking that I will be sick from the lack of oxygen, I spent the first few days in Cuzco with a constant migraine and fear of throwing up again. Once I settled in and got used to the change, I found that Cuzco was nothing like I expected. From the mountains surrounding the city to the traditional Inca landmarks throughout the alleys and streets, Cuzco is extremely beautiful in the city’s representation of their heritage.

One of the shelves painted for supplies at Abrepuertas (taken by Sarah Glose)
One of the shelves painted for supplies at Abrepuertas (taken by Sarah Glose)

Not only did the people breathe the essence of Peruvian culture, but the way in which they have conserved many of their beliefs and values has amazed me every day during my daily walk back and from Maximo Nivel. Since the first week, I have learned so much from just observations. From the stray dogs that wonder the streets, to the venders constantly trying to attract tourists with souvenirs, to the constant beeping of taxi drivers, Peruvians thrived on the amount of constant activity during the day.

Just these past few days, our group visited AbrePuertas, our first service-learning site. There we reconstructed recycled containers into shelves for materials within the classroom, helped build a new computer station for the children there, and interacted with the children. For example, we helped children with their homework and held games of soccer and kickball. The director, Ellyn, was very excited to have us help out and meeting the children was one of the best experiences ever. Although I am very excited for our next service-learning project, I will miss the people I’ve meet at AbrePuertas and hope to carry on the excitement I have for our next adventure at our second service site of Coraźon de Dahlia.

 Bing students with AbrePuertas students (taken by Sarah Glose)
Bing students with AbrePuertas students (taken by Sarah Glose)

[so what] As the first week has passed, I find myself realizing that three weeks here in Cuzco, Peru is extremely short. While learning Spanish for two hours in the morning every day before heading off to our service partners in the afternoon from 1pm to 6pm, there is not enough time to explore Cuzco. I wish I had more time to continue to fully immerse myself into the Peruvian culture!! In the following weeks until the end of this journey, I hope to learn more about the Peruvian people. Through observations and personal interactions, I hope to understand the culture better and broaden my understanding of its unique beliefs and heritage.

[now what] For someone who will be working in public service, I find that it is important to understand the service partners’ motivations and ideals in regard their own beliefs of what should be done to help their community. As our first service-learning site was at AbrePuertas, it was important to know what Ellyn needed us to do, to know that we are there to learn and to be able to communicate that we are there as learners who wish to commitment themselves to public service. At AbrePuertas, I felt that it was important for me to play an active role. I was no only very much learning but it brought me closer to many of the public service values of CCPA such as collaboration and working in fields of social justice.

 Ellyn, AbrePuertas founder and director, receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from Binghamton University (taken by Sarah Glose)
Ellyn, AbrePuertas founder and director, receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from Binghamton University (taken by Sarah Glose)

Our next stop would be at Coraźon de Dahlia. There we will be spending more time with the children and our task there is to come up with activities. I hope that my experience from AbrePuertas will allow me to better demonstrate my service-learning skills. Despite us only being there for the next two days, June 8th and June 9th, I believe that our time there will be awesome and it will also allow use to better understand the local development and municipalities in Peru. It will not only provide a better perspective of the student organization we have on campus which helps support Coraźon de Dahlia all the way from Binghamton, NY, but allow us to understand nonprofit work in Peru.

I hope those who are reading this blog are following along with our experiences here in Cuzco! Continue to follow us on our trip hashtag: #binguperu15 on either twitter and/or instagram. This is all new and exciting for us and I can´t wait to continute this experience with my classmates and two professors. For those who await for us to get back, I still can´t believe we´re able to go through this program. Challenges will be ahead of us, but I believe that as we continue on, we will gain even further knowledge of how to overcome them and stay true to the values of public service, especially as our group continues on to the second week of our adventure.

Helen Li

Master of Science in Student Affairs Administration (MSAA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) Dual Degree Student

* This CCPA blog series is by CCPA graduate students participating in the Peru International Service Learning Program led by CCPA Professors Susan Appe and Nadia Rubaii. The blog series allows participating graduate students to reflect on their experiences during their time in Peru in June 2015, using a what, so what, now what? model (see: Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001). Critical Reflection in Nursing and the Helping Professions: a User’s Guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan)

Careers in Student Affairs: Stacy Marrow and the Challenge of a New Office

Stacy Marrow enjoyed her job with the Public Administration program, but she wanted more. With graduation from the Student Affairs Administration Master’s program looming, she was looking for a position that challenged her and allowed her to use her newfound mastery to create programs and opportunities for students. Then Dean Patricia Ingraham created a position that localized career assistance and international travel information for students at the University Downtown Center, tapping Marrow as the best candidate for this brand new office and its strategic initiatives. The Office of Career and International Programs for CCPA has gone from a good idea to a high impact office in just three short years. Stacy Marrow discusses some of what she has learned as a professional and practitioner, along with her vision for the future.

Stacy Marrow will tell you that Year One was discovery. “I needed some time to identify what the needs were, what we could do, and how to do it best,” she says. “We did a lot that first year.” Year Two was reflection. “I needed to reflect and understand what we did well, what worked, what was a good opportunity, but needed a little fine tuning for it to have the impact I would have wanted.” In Year Three, Marrow is now focusing on development: what does she need to be as strong as she wants to be in this role, and how can that take into consideration the needs of the growth of the department? This is presenting itself in a few distinct ways. One is a partnership with the Fleishman Center for Career Development, which has created a new level of support for CCPA students in their identification of internships and potential employers. “We now have a liaison, Dara Riegel, a Career Consultant with Fleishman, and she is working with us on CCPA specific initiatives.” Another is Marrow’s participation in a NASFA: Association of International Educators, working on the development of an international toolkit that will strengthen the opportunities and support that can be offered to students. One of Marrow’s visions is for a short trip option for students who work. “We have many part time students who work full time, and professional students; this would be a great opportunity for them to get international experience, without having to be gone from work or family responsibilities for too long.” The shorter term trips could be the length of a spring break, with foundational and reflective coursework, providing the study abroad experience that many non-traditional students and adult learners want. Though not necessarily as comprehensive as the traditional model of a semester abroad, these opportunities may help students see a common problem they encounter in a new light, participate in the rituals and customs of a culture, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

As Marrow is gearing up for the future, she articulates what helped her get to this point. “I was given a lot of autonomy in this position, and I think that, as scary as that was at the time, I had the tools to make this office what it needs to be.” With Marrow’s vision, this office has gone from a good idea to a great resource for students who are ready to implement their CCPA education domestically and internationally, for the greater good.

Binghamton University to host its 2nd Student Affairs Day Conference!

Innovation to Implementation: Emergent Student Affairs Practice through Praxis
Call for Session Proposals

About the Conference: Innovation to Implementation: Emergent Student Affairs Practice through Praxis is a one day conference held this spring at Binghamton University for graduate students in student affairs programs as well as current student affairs practitioners. The conference features a diverse range of presentations and perspectives from an array of institutional and organizational types.

Call for Presentations and Posters:

The 2015 Student Affairs Day Committee is seeking session proposals which feature innovative Student Affairs praxis. Sessions and posters can focus on ideas that may still be in development, pilot programs, and new programs you have already benchmarked which are informed by theory, research, and practice. Presenting is a great opportunity for new, mid-career, and seasoned practitioners to share knowledge by bringing their concepts to an audience of their peers and crowd source for ideas and implementation strategies, as well as workshop their national conference presentations. Sessions may be 50 minutes in length and are open to all conference participants, with audience sizes ranging generally from 30-50. A good session covers one topic in depth, rather than giving an overview of many topics.  Posters will be displayed throughout the conference and there will be a session for those who showcase a poster to meet and answer questions of attendees.

Highlighted topics may include:

  • The integration of academic and student affairs practice
  • Transformative student engagement
  • Faculty engagement and program development
  • Student Affairs Professionals in the Classroom

The committee invites session proposals that:

  • Reflect innovation and cutting edge content
  • Stimulate and provoke discussion and audience engagement
  • Collaborative benchmarking is desired
  • Use multimedia approaches, including video, audio, etc.
  • Are approximately 50 minutes in length
  • With formats such as research or program poster, roundtable discussion or interactive workshop

Stay tuned for more details!

From theory to practice, from CCPA to Colgate!

When I started the MSAA program at the CCPA at Binghamton University during the fall of 2012, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, undergraduate studies were difficult at times, but graduate school? I was a first generation Master’s student in the dark and to make matters worse, it was 2 weeks before school was starting and I didn’t have a graduate assistantship. Like any 20 something would do, I went to social media. Sure enough, the hashtag “studentaffairs” sparked some interesting threads on twitter. It wasn’t long that I connected with a former MSAA CCPA graduate for some advice. As fate would have it, she knew of an opening at the Career Development Center of Binghamton University. I quickly jumped on this opportunity and interviewed with who would soon become my two (amazing) supervisors, Laura O’Neill and Wendy Neuberger. I was now ready to take on graduate school with a graduate assistantship in hand.

Starting the coursework as a first year in the MSAA program while juggling a graduate assistantship was challenging at times but with an amazing cohort at hand, we all soon became a support group. Study sessions, group work, and evening socials become our norm and we all quickly fell into our student affairs departments. Some of us started to focus on admissions work, res life, and for me, well; I found my calling in career advising. The coursework throughout the MSAA program was just the beginning for my personal and professional career. Whether it was Law of Higher Education, Counseling Methods, or Advising, I was quickly applying the theory of the coursework to my graduate assistantship. It was only after a couple of months when I was promoted from a part-time graduate assistant to full-time (and some additional work over the breaks). If it wasn’t for the amazing faculty, staff, peers, and CDC (now the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development) family, I wouldn’t be where I am today: a career and pre-law advisor for Colgate University.

I cannot explain the compassion, generosity, and comradery that my CCPA family offered during my two years. Through the struggling comps, late night lectures, and endless presentations, we all pulled together and found who we wanted to become. I am thankful that I was able to bring with me my passions of women’s rights, race, and social justice into the CCPA Master’s program through courses such as Student Development Theory, Student Addictions, and Race. My background of Sociology and Educational Psychology was not placed on the back burner during my time at CCPA; instead, it was enhanced. The classroom conversations flourished and, at times, seemed intense, but it was a learning experience for everyone involved. I believe I not only found my true professional calling, but I grew as an individual as well. I have my two years at the CCPA and the Masters of Student Affairs program to thank for that. I am excited for my future as a higher education professional and I wouldn’t be here today without the support and experiences Binghamton provided me.

Kelly Brant, Master of Science in Student Affairs Administration ’14

Career and Pre-law Advisor at Colgate University, kbrant@colgate.edu