students build the foundation for lifelong friendships
as they construct homes for Habitat for Humanity during
a Kellogg Service Initiative (KSI) in Marquette, Mich.
homes and friendships:
Kellogg Service Initiative lets
Kellogg students demonstrate their philanthropy and community
Amy Reavis Sinn
Some of the best
friendships are forged in sweat.
Ken Age, Karen Lee and Ajay Chawan, all ’03, who were
among the leaders of this summer’s Kellogg
Service Initiative (KSI) that took about 20 Kellogg students
to Marquette, Mich., where the team constructed houses for
needy families as part of a Habitat for Humanity initiative.
The three met last
year, during the same trip, when they were incoming students,
and an instant friendship resulted. Age, a native of Japan,
was more excited about the trip because it served as his first
experience in America. Unlike his new friends, Age had never
lived or worked in America, and English is his second language.
He said that his first KSI trip introduced him to his new
culture in a way that nothing else would.
“I got a
chance to help others and, at the same time, got to know some
of the best people in the entire Kellogg community,”
he said. “The Habitat program was especially interesting
for me because building houses together proved the best way
to develop bonds among my fellow students.”
KSI trip also offered incoming students a door into the Kellogg
culture that they say they won’t soon forget, and that
would help prepare them for their MBA experience. Lessons
learned through the volunteer effort included team-leadership
and home-building skills.
about giving back to the community, and volunteers get to
see firsthand the powerful impact that their efforts have
on the lives of people less fortunate. But if the experience
brought plenty of hard work, it also gave students an enjoyable
way to get to know one another. “The KSI trip was not
just about volunteering,” said Sanjeev Mordani ’04.
“We had lots of fun and also contributed to a good cause.”
Mordani contends that these qualities really differentiate
KSI from other student initiatives.
painting the interior of one home, a group of students met
and talked with the homeowner and her young son when she came
by to see the progress. And daily, women from the church and
community would make lunch and bring it to the volunteers,
as a way of saying thanks. As a result, some KSIers were moved
by what they were able to contribute in such a short time.
Those with no past volunteer experience often become advocates
for future volunteerism, because of the fulfillment that they
received from seeing how they can make a difference.
Aguiar ’04, from Brazil, had never volunteered with
an agency such as Habitat and found it to be a great experience.
“The work gave me a lot of ideas to help my country,
in which people live in such bad conditions,” he said.
“I definitely want to repeat this experience.”
Chawan wanted to continue their Habitat affiliation, so after
their 2001 trip they both signed up with a local Habitat for
Humanity chapter, working on several projects in the area
through another Kellogg student club called “Business
with a Heart.”
addition to the chance to help others, KSIs offer students
time to get to know one another and explore common interests.
When not busy building homes for Habitat for Humanity,
Kellogg students on a KSI in Marquette, Mich., played
kickball and kayaked.
finding their place
members of the class of 2004 attended the Marquette Habitat
for Humanity trip. Their mix of backgrounds and experience
was broad, but engineers led the group. A tradition on the
trip, however, is to not allow the incoming students to talk
about their education or employment until the last evening.
This rule proved worthwhile, allowing the students to really
get to know each other — as people rather than pedigrees.
Everyone participated in guessing where the others might have
gone to school or worked, from details gathered through casual
bonds are forged on this week-long trip where students spend
most of the day together. The team worked together during
the day, then competed at bowling, kickball and board games
at night. Kayaking and karaoke were highlights, as well as
a bonfire the last evening.
Chatterjee ’04 believed the experience offered everyone
a special opportunity to hone leadership skills. “KSI
provided the ideal setting for teaching teamwork with the
added reward of seeing all our efforts materialize into something
constructive,” said Chetterjee. “Different personalities
and working styles came together to build a home, and as importantly,
to build bonds among a very colorful group of people,”
she added. Once back at Kellogg, she found herself seeking
out her fellow KSI peers as resources to help her “decompress”
from a hectic week of new student orientation activities.
KSI represented what he calls the best beginning to his Kellogg
career. “The people on the trip are definitely friends
for life,” he said. “In fact whenever I encounter
any of them in the Kellogg halls now, I feel a genuine sense
of belonging to this place. The feeling is almost indescribable.”
form these kinds of bonds and successfully meet a variety
of challenges together, it’s easy to want to duplicate
that experience. That’s perhaps why the Marquette Habitat
trip has been a Kellogg tradition for the past three years,
and is the longest running KSI. This year’s leaders
hope that several of the incoming students will be prepared
to lead the trip again next year. And some of the students
have already expressed interest in doing precisely that.
Reavis Sinn participated in the Marquette KSI, along with
her spouse, Matthew Sinn ’03.