The week of March 7 marked the official beginning of spring break for college students all over the nation, including those who attend Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. In celebration of their spring break, 27 students from the Big Four on-campus student organization traveled to Orlando for some fun at a different type of tourist attraction: Clean the World’s Recycling Operations Center. The Big Four is a student organization that comprises members of four multicultural groups: Asian American Student Association, Latino Student Union, Black Student Association, and Spectrum, an LGBT student association.
As a part of their service project, the four organizations took over our Pittman Street warehouse and sorted bottled hygiene amenities for Clean the World Hygiene Kits. For five consecutive days, the students gave their time to volunteer and understand the importance of hygiene and global health.
Sidney Rice, a graduate student at Ball State and member of the Big Four student organization, planned the service trip. Sidney described a meeting her group held every evening after volunteering at Clean the World. The students referred to these meetings as “reflections,” and they revolved around the takeaways individuals had from their volunteer experience that day. Taking soap and hygiene products for granted was a common theme.
Sidney never realized the severity of hygiene as a global issue until learning about Clean the World. Like many people, she recognized the lack of water and sanitation in developing countries as an issue, but overlooked hygiene as a vital puzzle piece to global health.
Students Ani Thomas and Ishmeal Allensworth also shared their reflections on the volunteer spring break trip.
“You just throw away the bottles of soap after using them once or twice,” said Ishmeal describing the average life of a bottled amenity in the hospitality industry. As he reflected on his experiences at Clean the World, he realized more than ever how “the little things count for people in other countries.”
Sidney, Ani and Ishmeal all spoke of their experiences at Clean the World as an “overall positive experience.” Back in Muncie, unique volunteer opportunities are more difficult to find. The students had worked with local food banks and shelters closer to campus, but said the different atmosphere at Clean the World made for an altogether unique and memorable spring break trip.
While sorting soap, Ishmeal made friends with Tiffany, a Clean the World volunteer from Florida. Tiffany and Ishmeal have remained friends since the Ball State volunteer trip and stay in contact outside of their shared experience.
Ani, a nursing major at Ball State, was moved by her experience and eager to spread awareness about Clean the World’s life-saving mission among her peers and local hotels.
“I didn’t realize how many hotels were involved in this Clean the World organization, and that’s inspiring,” Ani said. “From this point forward, I want to go to hotels and ask them ‘Do you know about Clean the World? Are you involved in this?’ You know, just be an advocate for this organization because it is doing such an amazing thing for people across the country and in third-world countries.”
The Ball State group played trivia games, participated in a lip-sync battle, danced, listened to music, and made new friends all while supporting the Global Hygiene Revolution.
Ani hopes this experience will continue to bring the Big Four groups closer, help them get to know each other better, and offer each group the understanding of a different community within the Ball State Campus.
“I hope we can all become allies for each other,” she said.