Gettysburg College students believe in giving back. Just ask first-year students Ryan Kalafsky ’16 and Abby Hoelzer ’16, who devoted their winter break to helping those in need, both abroad and in the College community.
Kalafsky’s endeavor to raise funds and produce holiday cards for Los Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, a Mexican orphanage, began as a pre-orientation exploratory trip to Cuernavaca with Prof. Voonchin Phua, associate professor of sociology.
The trip was designed to increase student awareness of the lifestyles of various social groups through participation in a number of cultural activities, including visits to heritage sites, museums, and landmarks. With a new understanding and appreciation of Mexican culture, Kalafsky was inspired to further aid the area’s disadvantaged and set his sights on helping Cuernavaca’s orphaned children.
“The whole experience was intended to broaden our viewpoints, providing us with a perspective on diversity and what it means to be from a different culture than our own,” said Kalasky, an organization and management studies major.
“I believe [intercultural service] is absolutely pivotal, especially for Gettysburg College students – we raised well over $600 and crafted nearly 1,100 Christmas cards to send them.”
While Kalafsky traveled thousands of miles to make a difference, Hoelzer chose to focus on her own backyard.
Hoelzer donated her time and effort to support a Gettysburg area soup kitchen and its daily residents. The experience was eye-opening for Hoelzer, who was previously unaware of the diversity of individuals in need within her town.
“It was important to realize that not everyone in our community is as lucky as the students of Gettysburg College and how much a small deed like offering our time to prepare and serve meals to those less fortunate could be,” she said.
“Getting off campus for a bit and taking the time to help and get to know a group of people who are quite different from my usual social circle was extremely refreshing and rewarding. Because of the positive experience I had [giving back], I would absolutely recommend it to other students.”
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521.
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