How I spent my summer vacation

Grant Butler
Myrtle Beach, S.C.

For those of you who visited the coast this summer, someone had to be responsible for your safety and the upkeep of the beach.  Specifically if you visited Myrtle Beach, S.C., Grant Butler was there all summer patrolling the shores.
Butler, senior from Paducah, Ky., worked for Lack’s Beach Service seven days a week.
“I had two days off all summer,” Butler said. “A typical day would be waking up at 6:20 a.m. and setting up around 100 chairs and 50 umbrellas. The rest of the day I would watch the water, write out receipts, replace broken equipment and enforce regulations.”
This was Butler’s third year working for the company. Butler said he found out about the job from an employee at the Wellness Center.
“I wanted to do it because it threw me out of my element,” Butler said. “I was going knowing virtually no one. All the guards usually live together in affordable condos for college kids.
The great thing about being a guard is that you work with so many different people. I now have really close friends from Ireland, England, Bulgaria, Australia and Canada. I also have really good friends throughout the U.S.”
The day ended around 5 p.m. for Butler after putting up equipment.
“All the guards drive to the station to turn in our money, charts and radio,” Butler said. “We cut up and talk about any rescues or difficult customers we had for the day and talk about what we will do that night. The lifeguard lifestyle phrase for Lack’s Beach Service is ‘Every night is a Friday night and every morning is a Monday morning.’”
Butler said a deciding factor in taking the job aside from the great experience and nightlife was his parents’ move to Columbia, S.C., which allowed him to visit them more often without a long drive.
“This past summer completely changed who I am,” Butler said. “I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in doing something new and exciting. You don’t have to be in great shape to do it. All you need is your lifeguard certification and the ability to work a lot.”

 

Hannah Koch
Champaign, Ill.

Sometimes a typical summer can include working a minimum wage job while our dreams and ambitions are put on hold for “when we’re older” but Hannah Koch gave full attention to her desire to be a leader at the LeaderShape Conference this summer in Champaign, Ill.
Koch, senior from Shelbyville, Ky., attended the week long conference at the urging of her oldest brother.
“He told me how the conference could impact my life,” Koch said. “I was hesitant, but then realized this was the perfect opportunity to really find what I’m meant to do in the future. If I hadn’t taken this opportunity I would have missed out on one of the most powerful weeks of my life.”
The LeaderShape Institute is designed to provide students and young leaders with the chance to understand their potential and to be leaders in their community, whether it is in the public view or behind the scenes. Their motto is to “lead with integrity,” and the program stages conferences throughout the country at different colleges. The LeaderShape website elaborates on the mission of the program.
“We want to be a part of creating a just, caring, thriving world,” it states. “Participants of our programs and members of our community know what that world is like because they have tasted it – even if only for a day. And they want more. Until we have that world, there is LeaderShape and we have work to do.”
Koch said she had many favorite moments from the event, including learning how to develop and put together the steps to her vision and meeting students from different parts of the world.
“My ideal future is to create a world that empowers children who have been abused by giving them a voice,” Koch said. “To break the cycle of abuse, we must educate others. Throughout the week we discussed strategies on how we can obtain and move forward with our vision.”
Through various activities and discussions Koch said she grew closer to other students and wouldn’t have changed anything about her decision to participate.
“I learned to have a ‘healthy disregard for the impossible,’ which was one of many mottos for the week. LeaderShape has changed my life in an amazing way and I would never take it back.”

 

Luis Aponte
Belo Horizante, Brazil

Belo Horizante, Brazil had a few unfamiliar faces this summer as Luis Aponte and 17 other students from the University spent two months exploring ministry in another culture.
Aponte, senior from Clarksville, Tenn., participated in the Cross Cultural Project to grow his world vision and to assist in the long-term Campus Outreach team in Brazil in hopes of impacting lives.
The eight-week project consisted of visiting two local universities every weekday and spending time with Brazilians to expose them to religious ideas different from their own.
“Our activities ranged anywhere from inviting them to our house to watch a movie or playing cards between classes,” Aponte said. “The social interaction allowed for multiple opportunities to share why we’re there and our beliefs. It was a life changing summer and we all left with life-long friendships and encouraged hearts.”
Aponte said getting to know Brazilan college students and trying new food were his favorite parts of the trip.
“The food was great,” Aponte said. “I tried a lot of awesome new foods that are very popular in their culture, and I would do anything to have them available here.”
However, learning Portuguese presented a challenge to some students.
“We tried our hardest to learn as many phrases in Portuguese as we could,” Aponte said. “Many words in Portuguese sound alike, but mean totally different things. The word ‘coconut’ for example sounds almost identical to the word ‘feces.’ Let’s just say one of the guys on our team went to a grocery store and grossed out the workers when he asked where the ‘coconuts’ were.”
Along with language barrier struggles, Aponte mentioned other obstacles he encountered during his travels.
“It was hard to adapt to change, and there were many uncomfortable moments because their culture is so different than in the States,” Aponte said. “We didn’t get much rest and it was draining to spend hours upon hours of quality time with the people of Brazil.”
Although he missed out on his family vacation, celebrating his 21st birthday with his friends back home and the Fourth of July, he said his experiences in Brazil were more than worth it.
He said: “I wouldn’t take a minute of it back. The mission trip changed a lot of my perspectives in my life and made me a better man.”

 

Paige Graves
London, England

My final weekend studying in London is something I will never forget, and the riots that began about 10 miles north of London had nothing to do with my experience.
On Saturday, Aug. 6, riots took place in Tottenham as the public sought justice for a man shot by police. Unrest escalated as the weekend progressed.
As for those of us studying aboard, we were next to oblivious to the riots as we tried to wrap up our month-long trip.  For the length of our stay, weekend trips to Ireland and Scotland seemed more important than watching the news, and Stonehenge and a visit to the Globe Theater made me forget I wasn’t living a dream. I took an absurd amount of pictures with Big Ben, bought my mom the tackiest William and Kate coffee mug I could find and walked the streets Jack the Ripper called home.  The opportunity that was presented to me was unreal and I was happily uninformed until my last weekend.
I spent my Saturday in a state of ecstasy after seeing two theater productions: “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Wicked.” Between shows I did the traditional tourist shopping, had my last fish and chips and gave my remaining British currency to street performers.  This was also the point at which I thought maybe I could get away with becoming a street performer to avoid the inevitable end of my trip.
Sunday was my last full day in London, and I spent it in the Natural History and Science Museums. Traffic on the Subway system (or what I fondly call “The Tube”) was busy as ever, and tourist crowds were out in full force.      There was a noticeable increase in security on the streets and several announcements were made on the Tube system regarding extra safety precautions.  London is a big city so I didn’t think much of it.
When students left King’s College at 5:30 a.m. Monday, we were none the wiser that shops were being broken into and set on fire. Even as our plane left Gatwick International airport the skyline suggested nothing but peace.
After a 9-hour flight over the pond and several hours worth of security under my belt, I dragged my frazzled self into the arms of my excited mom and dad and heard everything about the riots, how they spread and how lucky I was that the trip ended when it did.  My lack of awareness is not something to be proud of.  However I can say the surrounding trouble did not compromise taking a great class in a great country.