Project Serve, an alternative spring break program offered by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, allows students to travel together on an adventure and experience a “vacation” where the focus is not on themselves, but on serving others.
Project Serve teams, which are composed of students and led by students, travel to many locations in the U.S. as well as internationally. The goal in doing so is to remove comfort zones and increase student awareness of issues being faced by others around the world.
For the past two years, Surfing the Nations has been selected by Pepperdine University as one of the opportunities offered within the program. While both Pepperdine and STN have similar goals regarding the service of others and fostering leaders, we find a significant point of connection through surfing. Rated one of the top ten surf colleges by SURFER Magazine, Pepperdine’s association with STN is a perfect fit.
Pepperdine students that have been involved with STN’s programs through Project Serve share the experiences they have had with our organization and the impact our interactions have had on their learning experiences.
Sarah Madsen, Senior at Pepperdine:
This past spring break, I had the honor of co-leading a group of 25 students on a service project in Wahiawa, Hawaii, where the organization Surfing the Nations is located. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. My team and I did a wide array of activities, from barbecuing at Waikiki and sharing meals with homeless and visitors alike, to helping hand out donations from the food bank, to surfing (of course!)…and I loved every minute of it.
All of the interns at STN were so welcoming and hardworking, and they really showed love in all they did. I am overjoyed that Pepperdine has strengthened their ties with such a wonderful organization, and I’m excited that more of my peers will have the opportunity to volunteer with STN!
It is amazing to see how STN is being used to do great things in Wahiawa, and I’m excited to see [future groups of] Pepperdine students be inspired to join in!
There are a several memories that stand out most prominently when I think back on my time with Surfing the Nations. One, among many, is watching a poor, single mother’s face light up when founder Tom Bauer sold her a computer for $4. Another is STN treating us like family from our first encounter and teaching us to surf during our first day there. Another is having lunch and conversations with homeless people on the beach.
Falon Opsahl, Junior at Pepperdine:
I was a member of the first Pepperdine team to work with STN for Project Serve in 2013. We were given the chance to explore the island and serve the people for a week. By the end, my body was sore and exhausted, but my heart was refilled, my mind was refocused, and my soul was rejuvenated.
Between surfing on the North Shore of Oahu, clearing a riverbank of debris, cleaning and reorganizing an ex-strip club that had been converted into a storage house for goods for the poor, hiking and jumping off waterfalls, feeding and hanging out with the homeless, and staying up late bonding with my Pepperdine team and the long-term STN team members, it was one of the most draining and inspiring experiences of my life.
I am grateful that I was able to pioneer the Project Serve partnership with STN. I am excited for my fellow Pepperdine students, present and future, who will be able to experience and spread the love, generosity, and selflessness of the STN organization and its team members.
Esther Kang, Sophomore at Pepperdine:
When I first found out that I was assigned to spend my Spring Break in Hawaii, I was “stoked” as the Hawaiians call it. Great waves, an opportunity to serve the people of Hawaii and an awesome group of friends….What more could I ask for? My experience at STN, however, was so much more than this. STN has left a mark on my character and now holds a very special place in my heart that I will treasure for the rest of my life. During my stay in Wahiawa I was consistently challenged, exhausted and pushed to my limits but this further ensued an increase in my faith, a deep sense of connection with the people around me, and the most fun and satisfaction that I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Our first day serving food at Waikiki beach especially opened my eyes and helped me to reflect on my own character; It not only prompted me to see how blessed I am to be able to afford shelter, education and basic necessities, but this experience and the people I’ve conversed with also forced me to see the selfishness and oblivion that I have been living in day to day. One of my jobs that day was to hand out grocery bags that contained different canned foods and other goods in them. I remember giving a bag to one woman who waited next to me until most of the bags were given away. She finally shyly approached me and said that she already received a bag but that she would like one more to bring to her neighbor who needs it more than she does. She had politely waited another hour to make sure that she could bring home another bag for her neighbor. As I handed her another bag she thanked me with all her heart and I couldn’t help but think that I should be thanking her more for showing me what true selflessness looked like. Throughout the week I was able to witness many more similar acts of genuine altruism and kindness by people who I would have simply passed by if I was in Hawaii as a tourist.
Furthermore, each and every STN crew member has taught me that a life of service and devotion is far more valuable than a life that is lived to serve myself. The enduring enthusiasm and determination of the STN staff has inspired me to take further steps to live a life for a greater purpose and adopt a heart of service even if this simply means taking baby steps within my community. The peace and satisfaction that I felt while serving at STN was like no other and if I had the opportunity to work with STN again, I would do it a hundred times over.
As Pepperdine students and the STN crew worked hand in hand, I truly felt surrounded by my family, or my “Ohana,” and I am thankful every day that we have been paired together for a greater cause. I personally feel that Pepperdine’s accreditation of the STN internship program would be a great way to lead Pepperdine students to an experience of a lifetime. There are very few experiences that significantly leave a mark on a person’s character, and I have no doubt that my experience at STN has done this to my life along with many others. It has impacted the way I see the world, and helped determine the path that I will ultimately choose to take in life.
To learn more about Pepperdine University visit: http://www.pepperdine.edu
To learn more about Project Serve visit: http://www.pepperdine.edu/volunteercenter/opportunities/projectserve/
Written By: Akela Newman
(Photos courtesy of Esther Kang, Pepperdine Project Serve 2014)
Although a free T-Shirt for someone in need may seem like a small act, we believe that it can lead to greater and bigger acts of kindness ,progression, and togetherness. We would also like to raise an awareness of selflessness and the spirit of giving. For who ever wears “BLSD” apparel, we want them not to just look good but to feel good as well.”
For every shirt that BLSD sells, they will give one to a child in the Ulu Pono Kids program. It is a very special and often rare thing for the kids to be able to get brand new clothing items. It will be an amazing way to invest in a child and show them they are worth it!
Aloha for Hawaii Charities (AHC) is a unique fundraising opportunity in which charities selected by the Friends Of Hawaii Charities can raise funds through the community’s involvement.
Through AHC, Friends Of Hawaii Charities plans to match a portion of individual donations in an amount to be determined by the Friends of Hawaii Charities.
The Friends Of Hawaii Charities has played a huge role in the transformation of lower Wahiawa and bringing hope to the neighborhood. Specifically, the grants received from FOHC have helped to start and sustain the Ulu Pono after school program. Through this support, dozens of at-risk youth have received tutoring, lessons in art, dance, and music, as well as mentorship and a safe place to enjoy childhood.
The funds received from this Aloha for Hawaii Charities fundraiser will go towards the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the STN headquarters.
The donation period is now through January 12, 2014, 4:00 PM HST.
To give, visit http://www.friendsofhawaii.org/aloha-hawaii-charities and select ‘ Surfing The Nations’ on their list of charities when prompted.
Thank you for making this holiday season one of Aloha!
”I first heard about Surfing The Nations when my Uncle took us to a fundraiser dinner at STN’s headquarters in Wahiawa. I was inspired by the variety of people involved in the STN event and began to think about how I could come alongside them. What inspired me to support STN was my combined interests of Hawaii, spreading aloha and surfing. Hawaii is mine and and my sister’s birthplace, so it holds a special place our hearts. Now that we live in Korea, helping STN was a way of giving back the aloha, even while we are away from our Hawaiian home. I saw an opportunity to introduce others to the concept of aloha through creating the STN club at our school. This club provided us a gateway to raise awareness for STN. At the STN fundraiser dinner in Hawaii, the ukulele player Bruce Shimabukuro was playing, so I used my own ukulele playing to spread aloha and attract people to our booth at our school’s activities fair. We sold snacks in our homeroom to raise the funds for STN, and ended up raising $318.00 total. I am so inspired by the idea of changing lives through surfing, and the amount STN has accomplished so far to bring change is amazing. I am excited have be a part of this community of Surfers Giving Back!”
We are stoked to announce that Movement 52 has chosen Surfing The Nations as one of their charities to raise funds and awareness for!
Movement 52 is an organization of that has an amazing vision to raise awareness and funds for one charity a week in an effort to be a ‘catalyst for generosity’. They aim to take complex problems all over the world, and help find solutions with a simple formula: 1) Identify a need 2) Raise Funds 3) Repeat.
How do they raise funds? This is the part where it gets fun for all of us!
They design a few different shirts for a different company each week, and then sell the shirts, with a percentage of the profits going to that week’s charity.
That means, for one week ONLY, they’ll be selling their shirts with three different designs with our logo, on 8-12 different shirts (and just in time for fall you can buy the first ever STN hoodie through the campaign)!
For every shirt purchased 6-8 dollars will go to fund Surfing The Nations International outreach efforts in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, The Philippines and The Middle East!
It’s running for one week, starting Wednesday, October 9th through October 16th. You can purchase the shirts through their website http://movement52.org/
Check out how M52 works here:
Don’t you love it when something that’s already good, gets taken to the next level and made so much better? That is what has happened at the Surfers Coffee Bar.
Thanks to the generosity of people in Hawaii and all over the world, The Surfers Coffee Bar, already an amazing coffee shop serving quality, fair trade coffee, is now serving drinks using a new grinder, filtration system and top quality LaMarzocco espresso machine.
Stop by and get your chance to test out the new machine! If you’ve already been to SCB, come try out your favorite drink with the new machine. It’s almost like visiting an all new coffee shop, but with all the things you loved about it still perfectly in place. If you’ve donated through the Kickstarter campaign, come and redeem your rewards!
As for my own personal review: this is not only for coffee drinkers! I took a break from my usual cappuccino and I ordered a chai latte. It was so good, that I literally turned around and got another one right after!
(Note to self: order the largest size next time!)
Come by this weekend! Surfers Coffee Bar, 63 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, Oahu.
Surfing is infamous for being chosen by kids over school since anyone can remember (probably since its existence!) And who can blame them? Of course, surfing is more fun than sitting in a classroom hour after hour. But the freedom that is felt when skipping class to surf, crashes down as the kids go into the ocean of adulthood; when their lack of education hinders their ability to live productive and debt-free lives.
One non-profit organization, Balikbayod (Returning Wave) is revolutionizing the way kids approach education and surfing by creating a program that incorporates both. When you break down Balikbayod, bayod is Suriganon (language of the island of Siargao) for ‘wave’ and balik means ‘to return. Balik both reflects the Filipiono-American founders who return to their island, and the culture of giving back that they are committed to bring with them.
The concept of bringing opportunities for surfing to the kids of the Philippines came when Balikbayod founder, Lynn, was visiting her native country. She noticed that nearly everyone enjoying the Philippine’s waves were not local Filipinos, but tourists. Lynn wanted to see the kids enjoy the wealth of their country’s waves. One of the kids asked her to bring them a board when she came back. Knowing that she could not bring a board for just one child, she started to think of ways to make surfing possible for the kids in Siargao.
Through a team of hardworking volunteers, an after-school board borrowing program was put together at the surf break known as ‘Cloud 9’. The dream of seeing the kids of Siargao have access to boards was realized, but there was the age-old problem of the kids choosing to surf over their studies!
The teachers on Siargao island sought out a partnership with Balikbayod, and together they came up with a plan to keep the kids in the water and the classroom.
The kids are not allowed to attend the program unless they are confirmed by the teachers to be attending school and maintaining good grades. If they’ve already dropped out of school, they have the opportunity to use the boards if they continue their schooling through the alternative learning system. The after-school program instills a culture of sharing and mentorship, as the kids learn to share all of the boards, make repairs when needed, and the older kids teach the younger ones how to surf. Surfing The Nations has had the chance to see the local groms stoked and thriving through this powerful combination of ambition in and out of the water that Balikbayod promotes.
Balikbayod has found a way to not only integrate education into a surf lifestyle, but make it a primary part of it: They have made education the currency of surfing for the kids on Siargao. This system is changing the mindsets of kids and teaching them how to value their education and take care of each other. It’s teaching them to honor, care for and take ownership of the opportunities given them, whether it’s a homework assignment or a surfboard. Balikbayod’s motto is, “Supporting education first, through the love of surfing.” One can only imagine how much of a positive impact this is going to have on future generations of Filipinos.
While there are team members running the board borrowing program at Cloud 9, there is a whole team facilitating the acquiring and sending of the boards in the Bay Area of California. The community in San Francisco comes alongside Balikbayod, from donating boards, to participating in board repairing parties and fundraising events. If you’re in the San Fran area, make sure to check out their art fundraiser at the I-Hotel, July 28th and August 25th! Check out their website for more ways to get involved!
Like most people, we love having coffee to start our day off, or to accompany a book, meeting, or chat with a friend. It’s a simple pleasure in life; a companion to your daily grind. We at Surfing The Nations are fortunate to have the amazing Surfers Coffee Bar right next to us that is completely non-profit and volunteer-run. All of the STN staff has had a chance to volunteer in it and seen the way that The Surfers Coffee Bar has become a haven for many community members and a place where hospitality and kindness is cultivated. Read below to find out more about what the SCB is all about and how you can help them in their kickstarter campaign to continue the good work.
The most loved photos that are taken on Surfing The Nations international trips are the ones where there is an unexpected clash of worlds: where the little boy in Jordan is skateboarding on Roman ruins, or a camel is strapped down with surfboards in the middle of the desert. Surrounded by different environments, to find something familiar is a rare treasure, and often it is those seemingly small things that end up building friendships.
Surfing The Nations connects with people from all walks of life on the common ground of surfing, and second to that comes sharing a cup of coffee (or tea!) with those we meet. For whatever reason, there’s something that bonds us when sitting down over a warm drink: doors are open, hospitality is extended and strangers become friends.
Surfers Coffee Bar shares a similar vision as Surfing The Nations in using their passions to give back to the community.
The Surfers Coffee Bar wasn’t always in a welcoming area. The strip where the building is now was once home to seedy businesses that caused people to avoid the street altogether. The people behind SCB had a vision to take a dark, cigarette-stained bar and make it into a welcoming coffee bar; not only serving up coffee, but providing a place where the community can study, meet, relax, and enjoy the live music on Wednesdays and Fridays. Their motto ‘More Than A Cup Of Coffee’ reflects the fact that they’re a non-profit whose earnings go towards the humanitarian work in Hawaii and internationally through Surfing The Nations. Even the tips are used for the furthering of humanitarian programs! Another way that SCB gives back is that the coffee beans they use in their drinks are all fair-trade and benefitting the local communities that the coffee is coming from.
The Surfers Coffee bar has been all about giving back and for almost two years now.
Now they are asking for you to in turn, give back to keep it going! Right now until July 26th, the Surfers Coffee Bar is running a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a new espresso machine! Things get old and everything needs replacing eventually, and this hard-working machine is seeing its last days. It’s a simple thing to pitch in to help purchase an espresso machine, but it means that the doors of Surfers Coffee Bar will stay open and ready to serve countless people.
Check em out! http://surferscoffee.com/donate/
This time of year is always exciting as we get ready for our bi-annual Ulu Pono kids Art Show!
This Saturday, from 6-10 pm, Surfing The Nations invites you to be a part of this amazing evening. There will be live music, pupus, and artwork from local renowned artists displayed alongside the art of the Ulu Pono kids.
This is a special night for the community as we acknowledge the accomplishments of each child involved in the Ulu Pono kids program and celebrate the creativity that thrives on our island.
To read more about this awesome program, check out our blog on the significance of art in the kid’s lives at http://www.thegrommom.com/the-hawaiian-renaissance-guest-post-from-surfing-the-nations/
Here’s the invitation made for you by the kids themselves! Hope to see you there!
In 50 years, do you think you’ll still be surfing?
When you paddle out, the only thing you’re thinking of is that present moment. It’s one of the beauties of surfing- your mind is completely pulled into the here-and-now, no matter how distracted you were before. Most surfers don’t take the time to imagine the future of their home break; the future of their surf community, or the others that will come after them.
Fifty years ago, six boys whose names would one day be well-known, started to surf. They are still surfing even to this day, and now it is their time to look back on a time when they never looked back, and tell their stories through the upcoming film A Life Outside.
A Life Outside is a feature length documentary by Catherine Brabec that tells the story of Greg Mesanko, Chris Mesanko, Kevin Casey, Jim Purpuri, Richard Luthringer, and Bucky Walters. These six men followed a passion that brought them to pioneer the surf break at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
Their story is one of courage; of braving the crowd that spoke against their surfing, and of proving themselves in the highly competitive surf break. It’s about passion and the unreal commitment that has caused them to paddle out time and time again over these past fifty years. It’s about a time where surfing was looked down upon and unpopular, and the relationships that were bonded through that experience.
Being a surfer from the East Coast, I appreciate men like these who have established the surfing lifestyle in their area. They’ve done it by doing something as simple as loving surfing and pursuing it with passion, and as difficult as standing against the ridicule and disapproval of others. It is men like these that we have to thank for bringing the surfing lifestyle to life in places it never had been before. They are leaving a legacy for The Pier, for New Jersey, and the entire East Coast for generations.
This is a film that is still in the works and can only be brought to completion through your help. In this day and age, everyone is able to effortlessly document their lives: Instagram, youtube, etc. Immortalizing something takes literally a few minutes. What we can’t do though, is have easy access to the valuable memories and stories of the past. Here is a unique and worthwhile opportunity to invest in the production of this film, hear and see these stories and immortalize them for future generations. And maybe one day, fifty years from now, you’ll have your own story because of those people before you who at one point, never looked back.
If you want to see this film, make it happen: Donate through Kickstarter now! There’s only 15 days to go!
Photo courtesy of Catherine Brabec.