February 6, 2020
Eight Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) students spent a portion of their 2020 winter break volunteering at the Give Kids the World village near Orlando from January 12 through January 18. Give Kids the World is an 84-acre nonprofit resort that provides weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with critical illnesses and their families.
The students completed different hours of shifts throughout the week totaling to 27 hours of volunteer service at the village. Before each shift, students received training on how to manage the different resources the village provides. The village includes specialized attractions such as amusement park rides designed to accommodate children confined to wheelchairs as well as games and activities.
BMCC students who participated in the trip included Jessica Castro (liberal arts), Salimatou Doumbouya (liberal arts), Irma Rodriguez (liberal arts), Seunghye Jeong (art foundations, art history), Amaury Mateo (psychology), Irons Burgos (business administration), Chizaram Chibueze (computer science) and Mamadou Bah (engineering).
The group’s chaperones were Assistant Director of Student Activities and Civic Involvement Kayla Maryles and College Discovery Academic Program Specialist Bryce Tolbert.
The trip was the BMCC Alternative Winter Break, part of a program led by the Office of Student Activities and Division of Student Affairs. The students shared their experiences with college community members that included Division of Student Affairs Vice President Marva Craig and Dean of Student Affairs Michael Hutmaker during a post-trip presentation in the Hudson Room at 199 Chambers Street on February 4.
Business Administration major Irons Burgos said the children as well as the families visiting the village had an impact on himself and his fellow students.
“Before becoming professionals, we have to be successful human beings, we have to know the meaning of humanity,” said Burgos. “It’s our responsibility as the new leaders of tomorrow, to make the world better.”
Among their daily activities, the BMCC students spent part of their time working as a team in the World Village cafeteria’s kitchen. Seunghye Jeong, who is from Korea, shared a story about meeting a Korean family at the dining area.
“The family had never really dined out before, it’s really impossible for them,” because of their child’s condition, Jeong explained. “But in this Village cafeteria, the family didn’t feel awkward. Even the tables are adjusted to the correct height for their child.”
At the close of the post-trip presentation at BMCC, Salimatou Doumbouya shared the group’s straight from the heart take-away quotes from the trip which included, “We are a tiny sparkle that could cause a great fire in the universe by the quality of our service to humanity.”
“We all agreed that this experience redefined our understanding of leadership,” said Doumbouya. “Leadership is about service. To be a leader, you don’t have to have followers, you just need to be out there and be willing to help others.”
- BMCC students participated in Alternative Winter Break
- Alternative Winter Break sponsored by the Office of Student Activities
- Give Kids the World provides cost free vacations to children with critical illnesses