Posts Tagged ‘spring break’

Jake the Pancake Kid

Chris, the school’s vice president, maintains a healthy rivalry with the president. “Someone had to be the brains of the operation,” he jokes with us. Brian, the man in charge, just laughs. We’re sitting at Senior lunch, relaxing after the first half of classes, getting to know why these students think the SEED school is so special.

“Without SEED, I don’t know where I’d be. Maybe not in school,” Malik tells us. TJ adds, “our eighth graders are reading like ninth graders, our ninth graders like tenth graders. I was helping a whole class of twelfth graders with Algebra II at the big public high school and they never realized I was in tenth.”

That morning, we began to see how SEED inspires its students to the ultimate goal: college. In Mr. Brown’s English class we talked about our first week at Harvard, making new friends, and figuring out time management. After hearing the phrase, “when you get to college” about 10 times a day, SEED students wanted to know what it was really like.

“What’s the most challenging thing at college?” Malik asked. Organizing our priorities so that we had enough time for class and friends, we all agreed.

“What’s your advice for classes?” we heard. Check out office hours! We responded. The teachers can’t help you all of the time like in high school, but try to reach out to them early and they’ll never be scary anymore.

Students asked about what GPA it took to get into Harvard, and what our application essays were about. I explained that I wrote my essay on my friend telling me to make chocolate chip pancakes whenever I felt stressed. “Really? For Harvard?” TJ asked me. He later introduced me to RayRay as “Jake the pancake kid.”

After lunch we ventured downtown to the see the National Mall. It was unseasonably warm and swarms of tourists tried to walk through our photo in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Sarah, one of our team leaders, recited the Gettysburg address from memory after learning it for a project in sixth grade. I remembered that Mr. Stephens’ class had just finished the Civil War, and will ask the students for their opinion on the speech. Rahim, a Harvard freshmen who grew up in Tanzania, was excited to finally see the Capitol building after three years in the US, but had been under the impression that the White House was much larger.

Back at SEED after dinner we met up with our new friends for some pick-up ball in the gym. After Kevin spun around and slammed the ball through the hoop, Chris tried to show off by dunking for us, but could only get to the rim in his academic-dress Sperry’s. TJ, the only member of the varsity team under six feet, joked, “why don’t we let everyone have some fun and lower the basket down a bit?” After a brief five on five game, where Kai, a sophomore on the trip, scored three times and earned rave reviews as Harvard’s next Jeremy Lin, Chris called off the game. Time for homework.


YEA Decatur and Henderson Farms: First two days of Alabama trip

Henry Bragg hosts a welcome breakfast at City Cafe as soon as we get off the plane. Clockwise from bottom left: Kevin Chen '12, Jim Sober, Jenny Chen '12, Henry Bragg, Gay Maloney, Victoria Liu '11, Karen Narefsky '11, Anna Trowbridge '12, Francis Deng '12, and Aaron Deardon '11.

The Harvard group visits the Carnegie Visual Arts Center

Jenny Chen '12, Jen Gong '12, Anna Trowbridge '12, and Francis Deng '12 admire artwork by Decatur students.

The Harvard groups attends a concert by the Decatur Youth Symphony and members of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra for the YEA (Youth Education in the Arts) Decatur celebration.

Gay Maloney, center, welcomes the Harvard students into her home on Saturday evening.

Karen Narefsky '11, Anna Trowbridge '12, and Eric Chen '12 chat with Decatur residents at the welcome dinner.

Abby Schachter '12, Eric Chen '12, Alexa Stern '12, Victoria Liu '11, Jen Gong '12, and Judith Ezike '13 ride to Henderson Farms.

Alexa Stern '12 and Eric Chen '12 scale a 40-foot grain silo at Henderson Farm.

Chad explains to the group how the planting machine works during the Henderson Farm tour.

The whole group after the farm tour. Back row, L to R: Chad (of Henderson Farm), Eric Chen '12, Francis Deng '12, Kevin Chen '12, Aaron Deardon '11, Judith Ezike '13, Victoria Liu '11, Suzie and Stuart (of Henderson Farm). Front Row, L to R: Abby Schachter '12, Alexa Stern '12, Jen Gong '12, Karen Narefsky '11, Anna Trowbridge, and Jenny Chen '12.

The Mitchells set up an Easter Egg Hunt for us before hosting us for dinner. From left: Kevin Chen '12, Abby Schachter '12, Jenny Chen '12, Francis Deng '12.

Harvard Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) Spring Break Trips: Looking Back at 2009, Looking forward to 2010

There is a strong tradition of public service at Harvard, and current students are responding to needs in even greater numbers. PBHA now encompasses 86 student-led programs that benefit the local community throughout the year and 12 camps during the summer.  While spring break might conjure images of carefree fun, students are also increasingly finding ways to make enormous contributions to underserved communities during their time away from classes.

In 2009, students on two such trips shared their experiences through a daily blog and photographs.  The response from the Harvard community was overwhelmingly positive.  Numerous Harvard alumni, faculty and staff, and students conveyed that they greatly enjoyed following these trips and were inspired by these examples to further pursue public service engagement themselves.

This year, we are following 15 student bloggers and photographers as they participate in nine of PBHA’s 13 Alternative Spring Break and Habitat for Humanity service trips with 135 participants. They are spread out from New York City to El Salvador and have committed themselves to working long days to passionately serve others. We would like to express our appreciation for a donation in honor of Dr. Tom Blyth that helped make these trips possible.

We hope that you will join us in following their efforts during the week of March 14th. Thank you.

Gene Corbin

Class of 1955 Executive Director

Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA)

Katie Koga ‘11


Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA)