She’s an extraordinary Resident Assistant on the third floor of Corrado, she advocates for impoverished third world countries, and she actively participates in serving the homeless. Amanda Ewing is not your typical college student who carries a full class schedule as a junior, two jobs as an RA and a receptionist at Howard Hall, and calls it a day. No, she makes time for those less fortunate than her and strives to get others involved in what really matters outside the University of Portland.
As a junior social work major, Amanda knew she wanted to do something with her life that involved helping other people, but her trip to Haiti wasn’t always a plan. Instead of doing the usual summer job, she wanted to do something different, and when her church, Solid Rock, had summer mission trips available, she decided to spend her summer helping other people. She chose Haiti because of the earthquake devastations, but she, like many other people, never realized just how bad it was. In our interview, she told me about the two most impactful things on the trip. One being the amount of trash and the “complete lack of a sanitation system.” The other eye-opener was when her group toured a tent village in Haiti. She described a scene that would be horrifying to most: 10,000 people, half of them children, crowded in an area that was maybe as large as the West Quad. These experiences, and many more, rekindled her passion for service, which had been on the back burner with every new demand of college.
However, it wasn’t all bad in Haiti. Amanda was amazed at the sense of community, and the relationships that existed in the tent village. She told me that people would have no idea who a child might be, but they would give them a bath anyway. And what the kids were missing from life didn’t bother them at all, instead they would run up to Amanda and the other volunteers and give them hugs and be as affectionate as any little kid would normally be.
Amanda transported her passion for community service back to Portland, where she currently participates in an organization called Bridgetown Inc. The organization helps homeless people in downtown Portland on Thursday nights, by setting up showers, providing meals, and giving haircuts to the homeless. On Thursday, February 5, Amanda and a few other volunteers marched their way through all of downtown, beginning in Chinatown, and handed out meals and socks to people who were sleeping on the streets. “It’s easy to forget about the world outside the bubble of UP, but it’s important.” Even though the homeless issue is very complex and not an easy fix by any means, Amanda has been exposed to it enough to realize how vital it is to work on a solution.
As for her future career, Amanda plans on doing service in another country for a year or two after graduation in order to narrow her focus. She loves kids and would love to do something with adoption or orphanages, but is still interested in a lot of other social issues.
Just sitting down with Amanda inspired me, and if you’re inspired as well, there might be another event with Bridgetown Inc., on Thursday, February 28. If you have questions about this event, you can contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s clear why Amanda is a celebrity here at UP, she clearly embodies what the university is all about, and she does it with the passion we can all forget in the mundane routine of classes and weekends. I challenge you all to be a little bit more like Amanda and give back to the place we sometimes take for granted.