Elizabeth Adcock ‘08: The World Race Part 2

During the first month of The World Race my team and I partnered with a ministry called The Philippine Christian Foundation in the dumps of Manila. Imagine a large dump where 90% of the trash in the Philippines goes. Five thousand people live there because collecting trash and plastic is their best shot at an income and survival. We worked in a school right in the middle of the dump, started by a woman from the UK named Jane Walker.
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We didn’t know what to expect going in. Without being there, there is no way to help you understand the overwhelming smell that greets you as you enter, the mud and grime that everyone wades around in, or the smoke that makes it hard to breathe. There is no way to describe the harsh realities they face, that when you look into their small homes there is literally NOTHING there, that disease and infection and starvation are more rampant than my small mind can comprehend. But there is also no way to describe the thing I least expected to find there – and that is their JOY.

Elizabeth Adcock '08, photo 5Oh, how I loved the people that I found there. They loved me and challenged me in so many ways. Their lives and outlook defied so much of what I was taught in America. Wealth does not bring happiness. Knowledge and understanding are helpful, but they do not always make people better persons. One can literally not know where their food is coming from the next day, and yet give you everything they have…because they want to.

One of my favorite people I met there was a man named Pastor Nell. He had a deep wisdom and faith that shook up my idea of what faith even is. He was constantly asking how we were and trying to make us feel at home, and in his impoverished state was freely giving his time to teach the technological skills he had to teenagers in the school. On top of that, he had adopted a baby girl when he wasn’t even sure how he was going to feed his own family. In America we might call him foolish, but somehow by God’s grace he had everything he needed each day.

Elizabeth Adcock '08, photo 6My team and I spent time making relationships with the children and helping build a library in the school with all of the books that had been donated to the school over the years. It was mundane and dirty work – imagine moldy, wet books and boxes of books that hadn’t been touched in years – we never knew what kind of critters we would find! But it was all worth it. Now the children can use the books, and I hope each of them will be able to read them too.

Currently The Philippine Christian Foundation is trying to end child labor in the dump by providing schooling for the children. They are building classrooms out of recycled shipping vans to create enough space to do this. If you would like to give towards their efforts or learn more you can visit their website: http://pcf.ph.

Kylene Beshore ‘03: Splashing around Part 2

Kylene Beshore '03, photo 4Why do we train dolphins? There are actually quite a few reasons why dolphins in human care are trained. First of all, there are safety reasons. Throughout the year, thousands of people pass through The Dolphin Connection getting the opportunity to meet our dolphins. Dolphins, amongst themselves, play quite roughly with one another. In short, it is okay to bite your friends and family members if you are a dolphin. Training the dolphins allows us to provide our guests with safe interactions where the dolphins remain gentle around them.

Second of all, we train for educational purposes. As a trainer, I am viewed as an expert in my field. How would I know anything about my “craft” if it weren’t for research? Research with dolphins in human care not only allows us to learn about our dolphins, but also their counterparts in the wild. The more we know the better care we can provide for them.

Lastly, we train dolphins in order to provide them with the best care possible. In order to do this, we need the dolphins to participate in their own medical care, much like us opening our mouth after the doctor has asked us to. Our dolphins are trained for certain medical behaviors which allow us to give them daily checkups as well as routine physicals throughout the year.

Kylene Beshore '03, photo 5How do you train a dolphin? Positive reinforcement is a very powerful tool that we utilize. Think of it this way, you do something good and you receive your favorite treat, which then increases the chance that you are going to do what you just did again in order to receive that treat again! Obviously, the best treat for a dolphin would be their fish. When our dolphins are young, 3 to 6 months of age, they are fed after hearing a crisp blast that comes from our trainer’s whistle. By pairing the whistle with their fish, we are teaching the dolphin that the whistle is a positive thing. After all, once they hear the whistle they get fish.

After this association is accomplished, we introduce a tool called target training. For this, we use our hand in a fist position and touch the dolphin on a part of their body we wish to target. One spot may be the dolphin’s mouth. As our fist touches the dolphin’s mouth, we blow the whistle and feed them a fish. Eventually, we are able to pull our fist back and the dolphin figures out that it needs to lean and touch our fist in order to hear the whistle and receive fish. Once that is established, there are lots of behaviors that can be trained.

For example, if I continue with the dolphin using their mouth to target my fist, I could move my hand from right to left in order to train the dolphin to shake its head “no”. Keep in mind that each dolphin is different. Some learn very fast and some learn slowly. Some behaviors are easy and some are hard. A headshake “no” may only take a couple weeks to learn, but a flip could take 2 to 3 years to learn.
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Elizabeth Adcock ’08: The World Race

Liz Adcock '08, photo 1For the past year I have lived out of a backpack, and I kind of miss it. I don’t miss living out of a backpack per se, but I miss the lifestyle that came along with the pack. After I graduated from Elon in May of 2008, I participated in a program called “The World Race.” In September 2008 I jumped into a group of fifty strangers, was put on a team of seven (we joked we had been put in an arranged marriage to six other people) and traveled around the world doing mission work. We would stay in each country for about a month, and then move on.

You may be wondering what would motivate me to do such a thing, and when it comes down to it…I’m not sure. But I do know that in the past year I learned more about who I am (the good and the ugly), really began to see who God is, and felt just an inkling of the love He has for people all over the world. With all of the hurt and suffering I came face-to-face with, I wouldn’t have survived without knowing who He is.
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Nothing was predictable. We changed culture, climate, language, currency, schedule, and activities every month. We traveled on planes, crowded overnight sleeper trains, buses (on bumpy dirt roads without AC for DAYS!), taxis, rickshaws, by foot…you name it, we probably did it. I made friends with the poor living in trash in the Philippines, those who lost loved ones in the devastating earthquake in China, and street children and survivors of the violent 2007 Kenyan election.

We befriended those with great needs living by daily faith in Uganda and Tanzania, rescued sex-slaves and prostitutes in India, those who had grown up knowing nothing but oppression in Ukraine, and the Roma (“gypsy”) people who are ostracized from the rest of society in Romania. We made friends with those better off financially but losing themselves spiritually in Slovakia, orphans and others in need in Guatemala, and Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica.

Liz Adcock '08, photo 2There are still times when these faces and their heartaches haunt me. I stumble upon something in a magazine or online, or just look around a single small room and remember how in most places of the world whole families would live in that space. I realize how blessed I am materially, and yet also realize there is so much I have to learn from those I met. They taught me so much about faith, giving without restraint, servanthood and humility. I want to be like them.

Although I don’t know where or what exactly my role will be, I’ve realized there is nothing else I want to do with my life. If you want to hear more about my experiences you can visit the blog I kept throughout the year: http://elizabethadcock.theworldrace.org, and read my next two alumni blogs where I will share about specific places and ministries.

Kylene Beshore ’03: Splashing around

Kylene Beshore '03, photo 1While growing up, I always had a very strong determination that I was going to become a Dolphin Trainer. Little did I know just how hard getting my “dream job” would be. Entering Elon, I thought I had it all figured out, however, there was not a major set up just for my career that laid out an exact path to reaching my dream, like going through the Education program to become a teacher. Using my opportunities in the past to find out the best educational path to take to become a trainer, I decided to major in Psychology.

I am sure you are going “HUH?” like every other person I have encountered when I tell them I studied Psychology only to become a dolphin trainer. In training we use the behaviorist theory of Operant Conditioning (think Positive Reinforcement), which I studied during my years at Elon.

Kylene Beshore '03, photo 2Like any other college student I participated in an internship to get a feel for the career. Unlike any other college student, my internship experience required me to work with cold, dead, slimy, fish! I quickly learned that the dream job I had always viewed as such a glamorous position, was not as glamorous as it appeared. I would say the glamor is only 25% of the job! The other 75% is cleaning, prepping fish, and maintaining the environment around where the animals live. However, I stuck with it, and a couple months after my internship ended, I got the break of my life.

In September of 2004, I started my career as an Assistant Dolphin Trainer at The Dolphin Connection in the Florida Keys. This career has been a complete journey. I can’t say that any 2 days were exactly the same in the 5 years I have been here. At The Dolphin Connection, we conduct dolphin interaction programs for guests that stay at Hawks Cay Resort. We have a number of interactions that guests can choose from, and as a trainer we are responsible for educating the guests all about the dolphins, but at the same time having fun.
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In our programs, guests get the opportunity to listen to a trainer teach them all about the dolphins in our lagoon. Then, they get the opportunity to meet the dolphins, whether it is from a wooden platform that is waist deep in the water or from the docks. I thrive on teaching our guests about the animals that I am passionate about. Within our programs, we allow the guests to pet and feed the dolphins. Through this experience, our guests take home a love for these animals and a drive to help protect them. I love seeing the reactions people have when they touch the dolphins for the first time! It brings a smile to my face. Often a guest will tell me that I have the “best job in the world.” And you know what? I have to agree!

Durice White ’09: Searching for the Perfect Job Part 3

In my previous post I talked about my video conference interview. Well, the video conference interview went perfectly! I interviewed with six people in the Atlanta based division of the job and quickly fell in love with the job, the staff, and the location. Atlanta is new, hot and somewhere I wanted to be. The staff is young, friendly and quite remarkable, and the job is with an amazing company with an extraordinary cause doing exactly what I wanted to do!

After my video conference I was left waiting to hear back from the company. I was to expecting a call within a week. Well, I was on week two and during this time I had many doors open for me. I heard back from one of my Boston contacts regarding a job and also had received another interview and job offer for a company I had applied to previously. Things were definitely heading up for me! I was faced with a decision to wait for my dream job or to take a job that I liked and was offered.
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I decided to wait…sounds crazy right? After months of unemployment and complaining about not having a job I turn down a great job offer! Well, I did this because I knew that my heart and passion was with that first job. That was a job I would not only learn a lot from but be able to give a lot to as well. I called the office and left messages and emails anticipating my next encounter with them. I stayed positive and prayed for the best results. I also used this time to learn even more about the company. Well, in the next few days I received a call back and was able to set up another interview in New York with the headquarters for this company. I took the trip with my boyfriend and mom to the Big Apple and had the interview. I wasn’t as confident with this interview because quite frankly I was intimidated. I already gave up a job and had so much riding on this interview to do well that I think I psyched myself out. But as the interview went on I tried to pull it together as best I could. Once it was finished, I talked to the AA in the building and described to her my fit with the company. Next thing I knew I was out the door and onto my matinee show.

Yet again, I was waiting to hear back from the company. Well, I heard back….and I GOT THE JOB!!!! Yay!!!! All my persistence, tough decisions, and hard work really turned out for the best! I could not be more excited to move to Atlanta and start working with this company! It is great to be employed and have an idea of my future but it is by far just the beginning of my journey!

Durice White ’09: Searching for the perfect job Part 2

As time gradually went by I noticed that I had been on the job hunt for months and was quite honestly just growing frustrated and a little under the weather. I used this time to talk to people I looked up to and find out how their experience post grad compared to mine. In talking with my cousin he informed me that this was an extremely difficult time and that most recent grads never faced what this class was going to face in finding a job. That was reassuring. He told me to search and work hard but to also take some time out to enjoy the fact that I was a college graduate. So I took his advice…well, the second part! I started going out with my friends and just enjoying my time. Hey, this was the best decision I could make. It wasn’t until I took my trip back to Elon for graduation that I realized I might have been doing a little too much “relaxing.”
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Upon arrival to Elon I met up with my closest friends and we chatted on everything that was new. It seemed like most of my friends had their lives together. They either were going to graduate school or had their job lined up. WHAT?!?! I’ve been out since February and they are already set. I decided that it was time to get back on my job search and utilize the resources that I had on campus. I talked to my intern supervisor and she gave me a contact for someone in the Boston area. After enjoying my graduation, I went right to work and called that contact. Well, that did open doors! This person sent me a list of 5 people all in the field I was looking to get into. I set up informational interviews with all 5 people and took a trip to Boston.
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Meeting them was great and I learned so much about job searching, networking, and working in the event planning industry. It was a relief to hear their positive comments about my experience and a great help to get their critiques regarding my resume, cover letter, etc. This was the best thing I could do. On my second to last day in the city I received a call from a job in Atlanta that I had applied to about a month and a half ago. Instantly, I was given a phone interview and was called back the next day for a video conference interview that was located in Boston! How coincidental!

During this time I learned that persistence was key! I had to call, email and call again most of my contacts to get 10 minutes of their time. Also, I kept a binder/folder of all the jobs I applied to. This made it easier for me when I received that call to quickly find the job and the qualifications along with it.
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Durice White ’09: Searching for the perfect job

Durice White '09, photo 1I completed my graduation requirements in January 2009 (after an amazing winter term abroad in Barbados). I spent the next few months “starting” my job search. I could have never guessed how difficult that was going to be. I utilized every job search engine that was out there…CareerBuilder, Monster, Craigslist, Yahoo, etc. I instantly fell in love with Indeed.com. The website combines every job search engine into one and you can make your search as specific or vague as possible. What’s even better is that whenever you enter into the website it automatically pulls up your most recent searches and includes any new job posts that would fit under your category. Perfect, right?

Needless to say I spent numerous hours everyday on that website…searching jobs…finding jobs…applying for jobs…waiting to hear from jobs. It started to turn into a chore and a boring one at that. At first I was so excited and thinking I was definitely next in line for a job…WRONG! I would rarely hear back from anyone. When I would call to verify that my resume and cover letter was received I would hear: “You need more experience” or “We are not hiring right now” or even better “That position is already filled…is it still up on the website?” REALLY?!?! Again…needless to say I grew very hesitant to my possibilities on getting a job.

I really started to reconsider my major and the direction I was heading. Maybe I should go to Graduate school. I questioned why I didn’t do more internships and where I was heading. But than…I received an email from this “perfect” job I found. The job included event planning, marketing, promotion, etc and it was in the sports industry. What else would an LSM major want?

So I set up my first interview. As soon as I walked into the office I was greeted by about 15 people waiting for their interview. Each and every one of them had the same interview time as me and way more experience. I pretty much felt like I should have just walked right out that door but I stayed. When I entered the interview room I was greeted by the manager and it went something like this: “Yo girl, whassup?” Excuse me? By the time I was half way into my interview I decided this wasn’t the match for me. But I did learn a valuable lesson which was to do my research on the company and never settle for a job. Now I was right back to where I started…Indeed.com.