Chocolate University 2018 Student Reflectionsaskinosie2019-03-28T16:20:45-05:00
Q1) What was the most impactful moment from this trip? Why?
Q2) How does the Chocolate University experience change your plans for the future?
Morgan Pessina, Central High School
Through all of the amazing experiences on this trip, the one that stands out the most to me was going to church in Mababu. I have grown to be a very cynical Sunday Christian over the years and I found it very refreshing to be around people who wanted to worship out of awe rather than obligation. It was a nice and timely reminder of why I go to church and why it is important.
My biggest regret from this trip was definitely not preparing enough Swahili. The times when I was without a translator were stressful. I think this was the first time I was ever in the “language minority.” I’ve been planning on studying French beyond high school for a while, but this trip has taught me the value of being able to communicate with people who speak other languages. I feel very motivated now to pursue fluency in French even though I am sometimes resistant to the work involved. Now I know, the work is worth it.
Leigha Kuntz, Springfield Catholic High School
I loved seeing the excitement the farmers had when they heard that their cocoa beans made a chocolate bar that won an international competition gold medal for best chocolate. They knew then that their hard work had paid off and that the product from their village was being shared with millions of people. This taught me to never give up on my vision because good things come to those who work for it.
My vision for the future is to take over my father’s business, Andy’s Frozen Custard. With that being said, I want to use some of the best ingredients in the world for our products. I also realized having a very strong bond with the person you’re trading with is very important – it is a key to being successful.
Isabel Eiserman (Izzy), Central High School
The part of the trip that had the most impact on my life was visiting the farmers and their cocoa shambas (farms). Initially, I was extremely humbled by how little they physically possess, but then I quickly learned that their community and homes have something much bigger – something that we lack – genuine, constant joy and love. This kindness towards everyone made me realize that there is always room for more joy in your life and that this trait can bring more fulfillment to you than money or objects ever can.
Career wise, this trip has changed my plans for the future by making me realize that I want to work in human rights. Meeting the middle school girls during my Straight Talk session led me to think that everyone deserves to be educated about their rights and be respected by everyone in their community, country and on our planet. Personally, this trip also changed my plans to leave Springfield as soon as possible. The village of Mababu taught me about how important where you come from is and how special your community can be.
Heath Fusco, Nixa High School
Observing the trust and camaraderie between the farmers and Shawn was truly eye opening. Often, the western world over-generalizes developing countries like Tanzania. To see the faithful and powerful partnership between Askinosie and the CCF Farmers was very inspiring. The trip showed me that trust and friendship can transcend borders and language alike and build better businesses.
Through the trip, I learned that my aspirations to promote human rights and international kinship are well founded. I observed the strong relationship that Mababu farmers have with Askinosie Chocolate and realized that the world needs more people like Shawn to bridge age-old divides through trade, cultural experience and love. I hope to do the same in the future.
Marin Billionis, Central High School
The hospitality I felt in Mababu has had the greatest influence on me. Being surrounded by such extreme care and kindness allowed me to recognize my personal lack of hospitality. I was able to reflect on my relationships with loved ones and gain inspiration on how to improve. I believe that experiencing the riches of the Tanzanian culture genuinely has made me a better person.
The trip has inspired me to seek out meaningful relationships. Shawn shared the Askinosie Chocolate and Mababu CCF farmer relationship with us on this trip. I learned it is possible to build a relationship so true and meaningful that can surpass language and distance barriers. I hope to build relationships like that in the future and share them with others. I also was impacted by the oppression and poverty present in the village. I confirmed that I will include service work and/or volunteerism in my life. I want to mesh my career plans in art and design with service. I have not figured out exactly how to accomplish this yet, but I’m very determined to find a way.
Brendan Fusco, Nixa High School
I think the part of the trip that had the biggest impact on my life was experiencing the pure joy and friendship in Mababu. At a time in which people are divided, the joy and friendship between the people of Mababu and Askinosie Chocolate was a great example of how people of completely different backgrounds can come together for a common goal.
This trip has not necessarily changed my plans for the future, but it has cemented what I want to do with my life – international diplomacy. Watching the partnership between Askinosie Chocolate and the Mababu CCF was really inspiring as both parties helped each other to be better at their respective craft.
Sara Snelson, Glendale High School
I was not at all expecting to have had the experience that I did. The village of Mababu taught me how to be gracious, loving and kind. The people have changed me for the better. I do not believe that their sense of community and friendship could be found anywhere else.
Our trip to Tanzania, specifically Mababu, has reaffirmed that I want to use my life to serve others. The people of Mababu and the team from Convoy of Hope provided clarity to who I want to be.
Delaney Cannon, Parkview High School
The most impactful moment on the trip happened to me on the last day at the chekechea day camp. In my group, I had a little boy who came to my group late. I greeted the boy who sat with is face in his hands. When I finally got him to look up at me, I saw that he had down syndrome. The local teacher that was working with my group said about the boy, “no talk, stupid.” Hearing these words broke my heart. It was a shock to me that a teacher could say this, but I understand that down syndrome is not understood in the village. I quickly realized all of the resources in the US as compare to the very few available for this little boy in Mababu. He was treated like nothing.
My experience with the down syndrome boy at the chekechea camp will forever impact my life. My lifelong dream is to open a Special Education school in a developing country. Meeting this young boy has made my dream more real and will make me try even harder to accomplish my goal.
Isabella Sanders, Springfield Catholic High School
My Straight Talk session with the Matema HS Empowered Girls had a very big impact on my life. It changed my perspective and made me realize what simple things I take for granted. Their joy and happiness, despite their oppression, is something I will hold forever.
The trip changed my plans for the future because I really want to stay connected to the people in Tanzania. I also will always remember to be grateful for all that I have. It also made me see how big of an impact I can make in someone’s life and that is something I will want to continue to do forever.
Hunter Skornia, Springfield Catholic High School
Throughout this trip, there were just a ton of impactful moments. One that I will always remember is meeting Steve and Ovaloki. I knew “Steve” by name on the second day and noticed Ovaloki always tagging along. It turns out they were cousins. I don’t remember many moments when we were outside of the CCF meetings where Steve or Ovaloki were not close by or holding my hand. It was truly touching how comfortable they were with us during the entire week, but I will never forget the last day with them. After we hosted the Checkachea camp, I gave both of them a juice. As we walked to the profit share meeting, Ovaloki did not let go of my hand for a split second. He was either grasping my hand, or my elbow if my hands were occupied, or the back of my shirt if I turned the other direction. We were connected. I found our translator, Aron, and asked for his help to explain I would be leaving. The look on Ovaloki’s face was devastating. He was almost in tears and instantly wrapped his arms around my torso. Many things can be taken away from this trip, and many details will unfortunately will be forgotten, but I know that Ovaloki will holds a place in my heart forever.
This trip changed my plans in the future in the sense that if I own my own business when I’m older, I want to build a tight friendship with my business partners. I think that is the most powerful asset a company can possess.
Walker Montgomery, Glendale High School
I think that the time spent playing with the kids in the village had the biggest impact on my life. It made me remember how much I enjoy being around kids.
I’m not sure what the experience changes in my future yet but I know now that I want to find a career that I can work with kids.
Lillian Passeri, Glendale High School
Playing with the kids in the village was really impactful. Picking them up and holding them really touched my heart. When you put them down and they put both hands on your head as a sign of thanks and it speaks levels. Knowing that some of the kids are orphans and do not have a family or regular home to go back to broke my heart. But, you have to realize that the little interactions that you are doing can make a big difference.
I really had no idea that I wanted to do later in life. Now, I have a few new ideas. I think I could live in a country like Tanzania and work for a company as a remote employee. I did not think travel was going to be the right alley for my health or mindset, but that has changed. When I fall for something, I fall hard. So I fell for the beautiful Tanzania. I think I could live here in Tanzania or somewhere like this. It will be my goal to try to find a way to make it happen.
Reagan Wiles, Central High School
The thing that impacted me the most on this trip was interacting with the farmers. Not only were the farmers inspiring in their work, but their thankfulness and hospitality was what truly impressed me. They seemed to have so much energy to welcome me, a stranger, into their homes and community. Their joy transcended the differences in language, and allowed us all to create beautiful friendships. I will never forget the joy that I felt when with the cocoa farmers in Tanzania.
I didn’t have set plans for the future, but this trip further strengthened my desire to work internationally for a meaningful cause.
Carla Hamwi, Central High School
The most impactful part of the trip for me has been the graduation for the Empowered Girls and Enlightened Boys. Participating in the graduation was really eye opening and got me thinking a lot more about how big this world really is. It gave me hope for the future – that our generation has an opportunity to create and I hope to help spread the message of the Empowered Girls Club throughout the world. Watching the girls win awards, perform their skits, and receive their soap and hygiene products was so fulfilling. I got to see how happy they were and how much they loved the opportunity to attend school. The trip changed my outlook on attending school and taught me to not take education for granted. The graduation ceremony was the biggest learning experience for me and probably the most fun event of the many we enjoyed.
This trip definitely steered me in a direction for my career and my philosophy for life. Hearing the stories of the farmers, our friend and Empowered Girl graduate – Twabwike, the healthcare workers at our Straight Talk sessions, and our Tanzanian host – Daudi gave me a lot of inspiration for my future. My experiences in Mababu helped push me more in the direction of medicine and traveling. I plan to visit the village and the farmers again and have already started planning to travel abroad more.
Tyler Campbell, Drury University Student and Student Resident Assistant
I had a great deal of impactful moments on this trip, but the most meaningful moment was visiting the cocoa farm. More specifically, the moment I cracked open that first cocoa pod and tasted the beans inside. Maybe because I work at the Askinosie Chocolate factory and make chocolate, that first moment with the fresh cocoa pod held so much meaning for me. I realized that in a few months I will be helping at the factory to unload those same beans, and working to make them into chocolate. I didn’t expect that the trip would make as great of an impact as it did. But, it felt as though I have come full-circle. This trip has shown me that the work that I do is truly meaningful.
I can honestly say that this trip has helped me recenter myself as an individual. The only way to describe my feelings is that I am at much more peace with myself. This trip has made me more focused and excited about my future. I experienced so many moments that have inspired me to work harder to help others. I know, that’s somewhat of a cliche answer. But, I can actually see that my future could bring about something great as long as I keeping working towards it. I am still resolute on becoming a physician. My Chocolate University experience and trip to Mababu has made me more driven to reach my goal.