Aug 25, 2011
In mid May, after finals, classes end and summer begins. But for many HSU students, the hard work and important lessons continue.
This summer, students Sophia Kline and Phoebe Sager each traveled thousands of miles to volunteer for and gain hands-on experience with causes they believe in.
Ever since she was 3, Sophia Kline (’13, Psychology) has traveled with her mother to Mexico every other summer to offer medical assistance to patients at a rehabilitation clinic.
This summer, Kline and her mother continued that tradition in a new location: the Caribbean country of Haiti.
For two weeks, Kline and her mother Susan Johnson, chief physical therapist at California Children Services in Alameda, Calif., volunteered with earthquake victims at the Hanger Clinic in Deschapelles, north of the capital Port-au-Prince.
The opportunity was offered through Physicians for Peace, an international non-profit that provides medical training and education to health care professionals in developing countries.
While Kline’s mother treated patients injured in the earthquake, Sophia acted as her assistant, helping amputees relearn how to walk and playing catch to help them regain their balance.
“To be able to be there when they accomplished something for the first time such as standing up on their new legs or taking a first step was highly rewarding,” Kline says.
Most of Kline’s patients were injured during the 2010 earthquake, which killed an estimated 300,000 people and injured an additional 300,000, according to the Haitian government. Many of those who were injured lost limbs due to an initial injury or secondary infections.
Kline is considering writing a blog about her experiences to shed light on the situation. She leaves this fall for Grenada, Spain, where she will spend a year studying through California State University’s International Programs.
When an internship in rural Missouri fell through, Phoebe Sager (’12, Industrial Technology) pursued her interest in appropriate technology in a different setting: New York.
As a volunteer and current project manager with the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT), Sager was already familiar with environmentally conscious building and reuse of materials. With the nonprofit organization Build it Green! NYC, she helped save reusable building materials and fixtures from the landfill, while finding them new homes with New Yorkers.
The retail warehouse receives donated materials and recovers materials from remodeled or soon-to-be demolished buildings in the city. It then resells those items at half price or less. In addition to salvaging original pieces, the organization upcycles—or combines “waste” goods like unwanted floorboards and empty bench frames—to create “new” and usable goods.
“When I found Build it Green online, it seemed perfect,” Sager says. “The materials and the people had a great quirk to them. Plus I was really interested in learning about green movements in urban environments.”
During her two months with the organization, Sager’s main role was to take inventory and post product photos and sales descriptions online.
“I had a tape measure and camera on me constantly,” she says. “And I loved to come up with cute and quirky product descriptions, like a classic-looking claw-foot bathtub that’s ‘Sporting a rustic look and brimming with nostalgia.’”
In addition to posting items, Sager contributed to the weekly newsletter, helped train fellow interns and volunteered at the Solar One symposium on technology, an organization affiliated with Build it Green’s parent company, the Community Environmental Center.
“I was happy to do whatever they needed me to,” she says. “Being a part of the organization was more important to me that what I was doing. I was looking for a group I felt good to be a part of.”
“I was going through a journey to find something I wanted to apply myself to,” she says. “I found it.”
According to Build it Green! NYC’s website, the organization has kept 900 tons of materials out of the landfill, provided over $250,000 worth of materials to other nonprofits and has saved its customers over $1 million.