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)
Tomorrow, November 15th, and Saturday, November 16th, 63 S. Kamehameha Highway will be overrun by artists and musicians, vendors, surfers and surf enthusiasts from all over. STN’s ‘Surf Art And The Surfer’ art show serves to gather the island of Oahu to celebrate the sport of surfing and the people who make it great.
In the 30’s and 40’s surfers were viewed as the deadbeats of society who threw off responsibility in exchange for what was deeemed a wasted life. However, today you are just as likely to find a US Senator, a doctor, lawyer, pastor, or any type of businessman in the lineup with groms and surf bums. The sport is now widely enjoyed and appreciated for the simplicity, beauty and positivity that it promotes.
We have invited some of Hawaii’s best surf artists, photographers and collectors to feature their work and show the public how surfing is documented as an art form and as a lifestyle.
Join us as we kick off the winter season on the North Shore and celebrate the world’s greatest sport!
A portion of the art sales this weekend will go towards the humanitarian work of Surfing The Nations.
Yesterday, Surfing The Nations was honored to be named as an Outstanding Advocate For Children and Youth in the state of Hawaii. Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii State Representatives honored several other individuals and organizations as a part of Children and Youth Day, and Children and Youth Month.
We are humbled and stoked to be a part of bringing hope to the next generation of Hawaii!
Surfing The Nations has been working for several years with the kids from a transitional housing shelter in Waianae, teaching surf and swim lessons every week. The kids that participate are living through some unstable and challenging situations and need something to give them hope, and more importantly, someone to be there for them and believe in them.
Throughout the years, Surfing The Nations has seen the Waianae Surf Club grow and thrive. Cobian sandals came alongside the Waianae Surf Club and TJ Barron taught at the first Waianae Surf Camp last year. Ever since then, our partnership with Cobian has given the kids some amazing opportunities.
This weekend, for the second year in a row, kids from the Waianae Surf club will be participating in STN’s Freedom Surf Contest. Cobian has sponsored five contestants from the club, giving them the chance to use everything that they have learned to compete. The big picture is to not only enable the kids to compete, but to inspire them to dream without limits and view themselves and their futures with hope, despite the hardship and poverty that they’ve experienced.
Check out the Cobian video with TJ Barron at the Waianae Surf Camp, and come to the contest to cheer them on this weekend!
Fall is officially here! Some people know it’s fall by the changing of the temperature or the leaves changing color (or the return of pumpkin spice everything) but at STN we know it’s fall because of the new arrivals! We’ve started a new SLS class with five new students from Switzerland and the United Sates and this weekend we welcome 35 new interns from all over the globe!
Alas, although the season has changed, summer is not soon forgotten! Summer 2013 was one for the books. To give you some proof of that, we’ve put together a little video for your enjoyment.
Thanks to all who participated in the trips, internships, and summer challenge!
Last Saturday, Surfing The Nations got to participate in the 11th annual Wahiawa Pineapple Parade and Festival! We had a fun day celebrating the little town of Wahiawa we proudly call home with the rest of our community. From delicious local food vendors to an entire row of colorful bounce-houses, nearly everyone resident of Wahiawa came out on the sunny summer afternoon to take part in the festivities. The change that is occurring in Wahiawa is amazing and we love getting to be a part of it! Enjoy the photo recap below and see yet another reason why we love Wahiawa.
To learn more about the Pineapple Festival click here.
This past week, we said ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Aloha’ to our graduating students in the Internship and Surfers Leadership School.
The summer internship was composed of five students representing five different nations: Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia and The USA. It was the one of the most internationally diverse internships yet! The interns accomplished a lot over the past three months: book reports, essays, working with our Ulu Pono kids program, teaching surf and swim to at-risk youth and feeding hundreds of people each week. Topping all that off, was a 10 day outreach to the Big Island!
Surfers Leadership School also graduated five full-time students and two part-time students this week.
The SLSers completed three months of leadership training, which included apprenticing in an STN department, leading activity days, teaching leadership principles, book reports, a final project, and of course, their Big Adventure trip to the Big Island where they lived off the land for a week!
Our part-time students, Jonas and Ann-Sofie, from Sweden, made the leap and moved their whole family to Hawaii to work with STN! They participated in the SLS assignments while still balancing their family and work life.
Now with the three months of SLS behind them, these students are stepping into full time staff positions at STN.
We are so stoked to have new members in our Ohana and an amazing crew of new staff members!
Let me set the stage for you: Crowds numbering over 1,000. Flowers falling from helicopters like snow in the sky. Oversized photos of teenagers hoisted into the air. Leis made of flowers and money held in outstretched arms. What is this? A Hawaiian high school graduation, of course!
I was incredibly blessed to be able to attend a friend’s high school graduation this Spring. His name is David Dawson. David is one of the most caring and generous men that I know. He gives more than he takes and is always willing to extend an open hand. I met David over a year ago while I was a part of STN’s Service Team. We met in a hole. No, not a metaphoric hole, but a real dirt and mud one. I was digging an eight foot pit in order to get to a blocked sewage pipe and that is when David arrived on the scene. He had come STN to volunteer with us and thankfully, was there just in time. We talked quite a bit that day, as you tend to do in a confined space, and really got to know one another.
Over the next few months I got to know David quite well and was really impressed with his character and work ethic. We were doing hard work at the time, but David never complained or shirked his duty; he persevered and continued to serve STN and his community, Wahiawa.
David has lived on Ohai Street since he was eight years old. Living in a place notorious for violence and drug activity, a child’s future on this street often has far too many dark options. But David knew who he wanted to be. To stay focused in the face the temptation of drugs, fighting, and vandalism was a challenge, but he fought against the drift and used his football and volunteer work to stay on course. Going to college has always been a goal for him, and a dream for his family as well.
Through hard work and dedication, David graduated high school. His name was called and he went up on stage to receive his diploma, smiling the entire time. Not only did David graduate, but he also received a full tuition scholarship to the University of Hawaii, Hilo! I am incredibly proud of David. He put his mind to it and succeeded as a result. Dedication and determination are truly the ingredients in the recipe for success.
Thank you David, for being a true friend and for all your work in the community! ” -CJ
Header photo credit: western.edu
This past week was a busy and bittersweet one, as we said our congratulations and goodbyes to some of our Ohana. This week was the graduation of our 10 Surfers Leadership School students and our twenty-nine interns. It was an exciting time for the students to reflect back on the three months of their time in Hawaii and celebrate their accomplishments. For the interns, that meant reading books, passing tests, and working hard in several different departments at STN, including Waianae surf and swim and Feeding the Hungry. Many of them are going back to different corners of the world: Sweden, Canada and all over the United States. The SLS students celebrated the completion of their leadership training and apprenticeships (not to mention their Big Adventure!) and they are pressing on in their full time staff positions for the remainder of the year.
We are so thankful for the interns and staff that have chosen to come to STN. You guys are what make us run and what makes this Ohana incredible.Thanks for giving back!