CSU student athletes from several different sports spent a week in June working in a community in Jamaica as part of the Green and Global Initiative.
Adam Prentice was in a tough spot.
A former walk-on fullback on Colorado State University’s football team, he had spent months preparing for the upcoming season, lifting weights, running and studying game film. So, when summer arrived – and the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks at home with family in Fresno, Calif. – Prentice wasn’t sure what to do.
He had committed to take part in CSU’s Green and Global Initiative, which sends a small group of CSU student-athletes on a service-learning trip to Jamaica for a week in June. But going to Jamaica meant he would be missing precious family time.
“When you play football, it’s pretty much a 24/7, year-round commitment, and you don’t get much time off to see your family like most students do,” he said. “I was reluctant to give up some of that family time, but I also knew the trip to Jamaica was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I went – and I’m so glad I did. It was an amazing experience.”
This was the second year for Green and Global, a program devised by Albert Bimper, a senior associate athletic director for diversity and inclusion and an assistant professor of ethnic studies, to give student-athletes a chance to spread their wings outside the athletic realm. A group of 14 Rams – along with Bimper; Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes; Kim Austin Mbadinga-Nzamba, assistant director for diversity and inclusion for athletics; and Frank Johnson, a captain with the CSU Police Department – spent a week in Petersfield, Jamaica, helping with community service projects and learning about the culture.
“What I love about this program is it allows these student-athletes to step away from their sport and see some of the rest of the world,” said Bimper, a former all-conference offensive lineman at CSU. “It gives them a chance to re-center themselves. It’s been a very rewarding program for the participants.”
Jamaica might be a vacation destination but this was anything but a vacation for the athletes. They cleared an area playground of encroaching jungle growth with machetes, hauled rock, painted a local high school, worked at a local farm and did other tasks – all in sweltering conditions.
For Prentice, the community service was familiar. His dad, Gary, is a high school counselor and taught his three children to give back to the community. He organized clothing and food drives, and Prentice and his siblings were happy to help.
But the CSU group also immersed itself in the local community, living with host families, learning about local traditions and connecting with residents and schoolchildren.
“The trip gave me a new perspective on life in general,” Prentice said. “Their lives in Jamaica are very different from ours. I think we get caught up living in our own bubble. The people there seem to have a broader perspective about the world.”
More opportunities for learning
Bimper is already making plans for a Green and Global trip to Costa Rica, where participants will learn about Earth University and its goal to teach sustainability to students from around the world. Prentice, a sophomore engineering major who has been nominated for the AFCA Good Works Team and the Wuerffel Trophy, said he will be encouraging his fellow Rams to sign up.
“Everybody can help others is some way, whether it’s money or time or by volunteering. When you do, it’s a chain reaction and makes the world a better place,” he said. “I’m already egging on some of my buddies to go on the trip. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and just an amazing opportunity to get out of your comfort zone.”
CSU offers lots of opportunities for non-student-athletes to participate in service learning, including alternative semester breaks, AmeriCorps, United Way and many others. Students can also check out the many opportunities for community engagement available through the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE) office in the Lory Student Center.