Distinction

The Global Studies Steering Committee grants distinction to students who have served the global community above and beyond that which is required for the major's service internship requirement. Recent recipients of the honor include:

Fall 2013: Ben Fine

Kelly Swendiman

Since 2007, I have spent a portion of every summer working with the non-profit organization ESNA (El Salvador North America) Village Network. ESNA’s mission is to improve the health, education, and economic conditions of the rural poor in El Salvador, while building and sustaining effective relationships with the local communities. Throughout my summers with ESNA we built classrooms and homes, financially supported teachers and students, developed water and agricultural projects, along with providing workshops teaching community members how to take advantage of job opportunities in the region. This included learning to become electricians, master wood carvers, and potters. Working with StoveTeam International, we delivered stoves to homes that use less wood and produce less smoke, thus reducing the health risks to the families.

Much of my time with ESNA was spent in the small, impoverished town of Caluco. One of  ESNA's most impressive achievements was working with the community to bring clean water and electricity to 95% of families, more than tripling the percentage compared to ten years ago. After volunteering in 2008 and 2009,  I moved to Caluco for five months in 2010 to teach English at itsbiggest school of nearly 1,000 students. In this time I improved my Spanish, but more importantly, developed strong relationships with community members. Staying with numerous families, I experienced firsthand the daily hardships resulting from living in impoverished conditions.  

The Global Studies’ Community Service Internship presented me with the opportunity to lead a group to work with ESNA in El Salvador. I recruited students from Sonoma State and other colleges. Our group of fifteen represented  Global Studies, Nursing, and Business. We raised over 500 pounds of donations from high schools, friends and family, businesses, and local restaurants. This included financial donations as well as clothing, shoes, school supplies, and athletic equipment. After paying a small fee to MedShare International, we were able to select fifty pounds of medical supplies, specifically requested by the Medical Director of Caluco’s only health clinic. We brought all of these donations in fifteen pieces of luggage.

My group worked with the many villages within Caluco. In Suquiat, we built a kitchen for their school, taught the students English, provided them with clothes and supplies, and installed solar lights into many of the families’ homes. We visited Las Trincheras,  Caluco’s poorest and most isolated village. We were the first group to ever visit this area, and gave them the majority of our donations. Just as significant, we promised to continue building a relationship with their village, and ESNA has since followed through with this promise. We also visited the only pure Nahuatl speaking school in the world. We discovered they needed help to obtain the correct fabric to make their traditional wear, so ESNA has since made that a priority. Our volunteers spent time in families’ homes learning about the hardships they experience. Our nursing students assisted in the clinic, made house-calls, and helped fumigate homes against mosquitoes. We taught the community about the dangers of stagnant water, and how to make their homes a healthier environment. Some of our group's members described their experiences as "life changing, transformative", and that they will "never see the world in the same way". Many have already planned on returning next year.

Fall 2013: Lynn Donk

Kelly Swendiman

I am what is known as a “returning student”. What that means is that after 30+ years as a working mother in various sectors, such as education, finance and media I am back to research papers, mid-terms and studying!  I spent my early career at Disneyland as their Restaurant Equipment Manager then took time off to raise my two sons and ended up as the Marketing/Community Relations Manager at a mid-size newspaper.  After a layoff during the 2008 recession, I decided to return to college, never having finished my BA, a long time regret.  I found that I could retain only 3 of my 33 previously completed units and so  I began again at my local Junior College “taking interesting classes” including viticulture and enology and quickly transformed my casual return to school into a goal of a BA.  That was in 2008 and I am proud to say that I have managed to earn my degree in only 4 years! 
I decided to transfer to Sonoma State after the completion of my AA because of my love of wine and because of my focus on Global Studies with an emphasis on Latin America.  I have rediscovered my love for the people of Latin America through my studies and my Internship at Catholic Charities in their Immigration Department helping immigrants to obtain US citizenship.  I also spent the better part of the summer of 2012 in El Salvador, first as a participant in a program studying the history and human rights of the country and later as a volunteer with a non profit organization helping with the civic development of a rural community.
In addition to my BA in Global Studies, I have earned Minors in History and Latin American Studies and I hope to continue my work with immigrants with Catholic Charities.

Spring 2012: Carissa Green

Kelly Swendiman

What began as the requisite service internship for the Global Studies program has transformed into a truly multi-faceted, cross-cultural, service-learning project that has spanned the past year and will continue long after the completion of the formal internship. Through LandPaths and working with Magdalena Ridley, Bilingual Project Coordinator I have had the opportunity to work with the community at Bayer Farm Neighborhood Park and Gardens. I have become a community leader, continue to help build community through activities and projects, collaborate on the Bayer Farm Ethnobotany Project, volunteer in the garden, and occasionally milk the goat, Eunice. Bayer Farm is a 6-acre urban farm in Roseland, California that allows families that don’t have their own arable land to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

As Activities Committee leaders, we were/are responsible for planning, orchestrating and managing the now annual Solstice Festival (Féstivo de Solsticio) in June and Corn Festival (Féstivo de Maíz) held in October. I have also had the honor of collaborating with Magdalena to create the Bayer Farm Ethnobotany Project wherein we are building a database of herbs/remedies and creating a community resource, the medicinal plant garden. I also participated in an education series put on by St. Joseph Medical Center called Health Promoters (Promotoras de Salud). We attended five trainings as participants, and then created presentations of healthy meals, recipes, and information, at the Free Lunch program for parents through the 2011 summer.

I believe that face-to-face community building is one of the most important aspects of civil society, but it’s increasingly more difficult to do this today. Working in my community has allowed me the opportunity to create meaningful sustained relationships, participate on an extremely personal level, incite my own family’s volunteerism and forge a deeper connection with the concept of community.

Spring 2010: Kelly Swendiman

Kelly Swendiman

Among the many crossroads and challenges with which I have been faced over the years, I look back and reflect upon why my college experience has been so meaningful, and it all stems back to three key decisions I made: 1) I chose right away to become involved on campus, 2) I chose to study abroad for one year in Queretaro, Mexico, and 3) I chose Global Studies as my major. These three decisions have been vital to my successes at SSU and it all started with finding my niche on campus, and becoming involved.

As a freshman in 2005, I was a participant on the Alternative Spring Break trip that was going to Santa Fe, New Mexico to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. It was this trip that sparked something inside of me and caused me to realize that lending a helping hand, and being exposed to diverse peoples and environments was always something I wanted to have in my life. I knew I had to turn that interest into action, and upon returning I applied for the position of the Coordinator for Alternative Spring Break and received the job. That year I took 40 SSU students to New Orleans, Louisiana to rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina, and another 20 students went to Moab, Utah to work on environmental restoration. Both alternative spring break trips were huge successes and served as an incredible learning opportunity for everyone involved.

In 2007, I decided I needed to step outside my boundaries, and make more global connections. Thus, I applied and was accepted into the International Programs at SSU and chose to study abroad in Queretaro, Mexico for one full academic year. Living in a developing country for a year was no doubt the most amazing experience of my life. Mexico showed me another way to live that I never would have considered had I not traveled outside the boundaries of my country and my mind. I returned to the United States fluent in Spanish and gained a cultural understanding of the world, which is something I cherish and value the most.

After my year abroad, I applied for and was accepted as the Chair of JUMP (Join Us Making Progress), the community service program at Sonoma State University, which provides students the opportunity for personal growth, leadership, and education through service to the campus and the community. I oversaw five student-run programs, led official weekly meetings, evaluated student performance and recruited student volunteers on a campus-wide level. This position allowed me to work with both students and community-based organizations, which taught me how to communicate effectively in different audiences and social arenas. Most importantly, I was able to provide engaging service-learning programs for undergraduates, while simultaneously bridging the gap between the professional and student communities through volunteerism.

During the academic year of 2008-2009, while serving as the Chair for JUMP, I also created a tutoring program at Sonoma State University called Moviendo Montanas. My intention with developing this program was to increase high school graduation rates among Latino youth by creating a community that fosters academic success and eradicates truancy rates and other high-risk behaviors. I was also extremely honored to be nominated for Woman Student Leader of the Year in 2009.

Spring 2010 David Bays

David Bays

My community service over the last fours years has primarily been with two organizations, Food for Thought, a food bank for Sonoma County A.I.D.S patients, and Common Vision, a group of ecological educators who put on the annual Fruit Tree Tour. Food for Thought is a grass roots organization, which started in Western Sonoma County in the early eighties as a response to the A.I.D.S epidemic that started to inflect many people in the area. Food For Thought originally was a small group of people who delivered food to the doorsteps of sick people. Though dedication and donations it is now a large-scale food bank, which has 200 volunteers serving over 500 clients. FFT has a community garden, which provides a good portion of its fresh produce for clients as well as a sister project in Malawi which feeds 150 orphans whose parents died from A.I.D.S. At Food For Thought I assist clients in selecting and putting together their food orders. It is an important role as for some of the clients I am one of the few people that they have interaction with during the course of the week. I try to be courteous and attentive making sure to ask question, crack jokes and make small talk, Though the course of my work their I have made many important relationships with clients and staff, as well as gaining more understanding of what it is like to live with A.I.D.S. At the food bank I am also one of the primary “grunt men” performing many of highly physical tasks needed, consisting of a lot of work in the garden as well as minor construction and maintenance.  I am happy to perform these duties because it is where I am truly needed as most of the volunteers are also clients living with A.I.D.S., their stamina is sometimes low and my youthful strength is greatly appreciated.

I have been working with Common Vision for the last five years, my involvement has mainly been at fundraising events where I help set up, take down, and run concessions. However, I have also had the privilege to be on two of Common Vision’s annual Fruit Tree Tours. Fruit Tree Tour takes place every year from mid February to mid April, when Common Vision travels from Southern California to the Bay Area on school buses converted to run on vegetable oil, putting on programs at public schools. During these programs students watch a performance, which is based around protecting and preserving the environment, work with educators planting fruit trees, learn about ecology, as well as take part of an African drumming workshop. While on Fruit Tree Tour I have participated in all aspects of the program as well as performing many of the communal roles which make the tour possible such as cooking, cleaning etc. Though my work with Common Vision I have made and fortified many life long friendships, while learning the benefits of working with the youth, when concerning issues of community awareness.