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Guatemala 2018

Leaving NYC

Its sad but true. Today is the day that we head back to Wisconsin. Some people woke up extra early this morning to go to the original Carlo’s Bakery from the Cake Boss. They got Cannoli’s and cupcakes. Another group ate IHOP in Harlem, while another group slept in a bit and packed.

The week in the city was filled with many new experiences and lessons concerning the GMHC, big city life, and people in general.  Everyone will have their own personal take away from this trip and that’s what’s so amazing about traveling and volunteering. We as a group have come together throughout the week and grown as people. I’m glad that was able to take part in such an amazing experience.

It’s goodbye for now New York, but maybe some of us will see you again someday.

New York Day 7

Today we embark on our last day volunteering at GMHC! Throughout our time this week we have met some amazing people from Kelsey Louie the CEO, to the incomparable Cecilia.
One of the highlights this week was serving lunch to the clients. It gave us a chance to interact and connect with them. At certain times we were able to sit down and have lunch with the clients and in those moments we had the chance to hear about the clients lives if they were willing to share or just to talk about the weather. Throughout the lunch service everyone was so joyful and it really opened our eyes to see that just because they are affected with either HIV or AIDS that their personality was so gracious and upbeat that it put in perspective of the little things that we may complain about that may not be a big deal in the big picture. One of the greatest moments of volunteering at GMHC was watching the documentary of Larry Kramer. It was the first time many of us had heard of him and the work he did to progress the Medication for HIV/AIDS was amazing. The passion and dedication he had is something we can all learn from.
As mentioned in one of the first blogs we all put together care packages guided toward women. Today we had the honor of donating the 28 care packages to GMHC! It warmed our hearts to know that the care packages will be given to those who really need it.
During our two hours at GMHC today we met with Susan Rowley the director of the hotline and buddy program, we got the chance to learn first hand about what goes in to working the hotline and what skills are needed to best serve the clients that call the hotline. Next, we had a debriefing session just to talk about the whole week and what we will take away from volunteering at GMHC.
Our time a GMHC was amazing. All the welcoming faces in the morning made everything 10x better!
After we left GMHC we then went back to Time Square to have lunch at an incredible Italian place called Carmine’s! Their portions are family size and everything was really good! After lunch we went to Rockefeller Center and the NBC store. It was really cool to see where the today show is taped and to watch people ice skate.
For dessert we went to Cafe Lalo, a famous cafe. Their desserts are amazing! ( I would recommend the cheesecake!)
After we got done eating our group decided to split up, some went to the broadway show Kinky Boots, while the other group decided to come back for a early night!
I think as a group we have come to know each other and appreciate each other a lot. We have definitely become a little family and our time in New York has been filled with adventure and excitement! Although we came to volunteer I feel that we all walked away changed for the better.







New York Day Six!

Today marks day 6 In New York! Only two days left till we are back in Wisconsin! Today at GMHC we started off the day doing file intake while a few of our members had the amazing opportunity to go get tested at the GMHC testing center. Once we were done with file intake we headed over to serve lunch again to the clients. It was amazing to see how thankful everyone was and to see how some of the clients remembered us from Tuesday! During lunch the next group went off to get tested. Once we were all together again we spent the rest of our time putting together sex kits for women that will be given out during the AIDS walk coming up soon! After we left GMHC we took the subway over to China town to the Chinese museum. Once we left the museum we went to Cozy’s Soups and Burgers for dinner. Everyone found a dish that they enjoyed and then we went to Big Gay Ice cream for dessert. Overall today was great! Time to soak up New York with the two days we have left!

New York Day Four!

Day four was full of adventure and excitement! We started off the day by heading out to find breakfast. We found our selves at this amazing place called ORWASHERS! I would for sure recommend this place If you are ever in New York and want a great place to have breakfast. After breakfast we walked over to Central Park where we spent a couple hours walking around and looking at all the statues. We also got some beautiful pictures!
Once that was over, we made our way to GHMC for our first day of actual volunteering! We spent a couple hours serving food to the clients of GHMC. I must say personally that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have experienced. The joyful atmosphere that was in the air was radiating and filled my heart with so much love and joy. Once we were done serving lunch to the clients, we went to help with some of the prep work for the AIDS walk. After helping out sort cards our first day of actually volunteering was over!
To keep the amazing day going we took the subway over to the 9/11 memorial. Although we were excited to see the memorial, I believe that I can speak for everyone in our group when I say our condolences go out to the families and friends connected to the victims of 9/11. This event is a huge part of our history, so while going was exciting, we do recognize the meaning behind the memorial. Once we finished at the memorial we headed over to flatiron building. After seeing so many pictures of it it was very cool to see it in person. Our last stop of the day was TACOBMI which is a delicious Mexican spot! Again I would totally recommend! We had a very busy impactful day and we can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings! (Actually it brings seeing the broadway show waitress! ) super excited! 🙂








First Day at the GMHC


IMG_1698We got a firsthand experience of an early morning, big city commute on the subway. Those trains were packed! The New Yorkers were doing their own thing; reading, sleeping, figuring out where their stops were…and then there was us laughing and joking around. People could easily tell that we are from out of town. Most people have been helpful when asking for help with navigation or our Metrocards that decide to work sometimes but not others. However, a few have been sort of rude. A subway car is such a small area, but there are so many different things to watch and notice.

The group got to the GMHC early. When it was time to start,we were given volunteer orientation followed by a tour of the facility. Our tour was given to us by David Pais, the director of the facility. He walked us around and showed us all of the departments and gave us a history of GMHC. They offer so many services to their clients, from testing and medication, to counseling and meals, even art classes and massages. It was also surprising to learn that they offer legal services for immigrants affected by the virus. The amount of dedication the workers have for their jobs and caring for others is extremely admirable.

After that we were given an in depth lesson about the HIV virus. It was helpful to learn details about it and have it be broken down step by step. We asked many questions and got great answers.

The last portion of our time at the GMHC was spent learning about Trans awareness.  Our instructor was a Trans woman who gave personal insights and experience to our training. She was very open about her gender and sexuality and taught us that gender is not what you are born, but what you are assigned by others. She also taught us about the types of identifiers that people may use and why it’s important to use a persons preferred pronouns. it was a very thought provoking experience and a good way to end our first day of volunteering.

The rest of the day was spent shopping at Macy’s, the Croc store, and Sephora. Macy’s was 9 stories tall! Who knew there could be so much stuff to buy? We also passed the Empire State Building all lit up at night. It was a nice view.

New York Day 2




IMG_1692The group agreed to have a later start this morning to recover from our busy day of travel. Our first stop was Sylvia’s Soul Food where many of us ordered fried chicken and waffles. While we ate, gospel music played in the background.

After our Sunday Soul experience, we went to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Many of the pieces sent strong messages and were difficult for many of us to look at for long periods of time. However, people said they thought the museum was eye-opening to experience a different style of art.

From there, the group split up. Some chose to take a boat tour of Staten Island and see the Statue of Liberty, while others explored some museums. The boat group saw the statue and took some beautiful pictures, although they said the wind was a little chilly. The museum group went to the National Museum of the American Indian and the American Ganster Museum. Both museums had plenty or real artifacts depicting two very different types of culture.

When we all met up again it was for Lombardi’s Pizza. We demolished 3 large pizzas and got warm from spending most of the day outside. Even though we were stuffed from dinner we couldn’t resist our sweet tooths and decided to try another fad type dessert: rolled ice cream. It was started in Thailand and the person who prepares it creates the ice cream and rolls it before your own eyes. Everyone was satisfied with their tasty, handcrafted treats.

Day 2 in the city was wonderful and we are excited for what the first day at the GMHC will bring!

New York day one!

We landed in New York yesterday around 9:30 am. Luckily that gave us the whole day to explore New York! We all became real New Yorkers by buying our first metro cards! We then walked around to find somewhere to eat breakfast, we ended up at this little diner that someone had recommended. I must say their recommendation was perfect! After filling our hungry stomachs and exploring some more we were able to check in in our rooms at the YMCA, because most of us hadn’t slept any, we all decided rest time and naps were needed! At least for an hour haha.
Once we were all rested up we headed out to catch the metro to go to time square. When we arrived the scenery was breathtaking. Something right out of a movie, from People all over and cars beeping their horns to food trunks on every street corner, the atmosphere was unexplainable. We all found many spots for photo ops of course! After going into many of the stores we were all pretty hungry again! Dinner was at the AMAZING Guy Fieri’s restaurant. The portions were huge and the taste was impeccable. After dinner some of us decided to head back to the YMCA while others stuck it out more to go get dessert! Overall our first day in New York was filled with adventure and excitement! Can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!



Meet Emily T.

Hi, I’m Emily Thao and I’m a  Junior at UWO.
I am going on this trip because I want to explore the cultural differences and give a hand to those who are in need. I want to make an impact and be sure I will remember it. I am looking forward to growing connections with unique people and try lots of food!

Meet Chris

My name is Chris Annis, and I am the Program Advisor for Diversity and Inclusion Programs here at UW Oshkosh.  It is an honor to learn and grow along side a unique group of students coming from many diverse backgrounds.  I am most excited to develop a greater understanding of life as a whole. When I say life, I mean all aspects that we are often unable to see on a regular basis!

This will definitely be a great experience for all of us!

Meet Kylie


Hello! My name is Kylie Kostka. I am a Junior at UWO studying social work. I am passionate about social justice issues and working with individuals and populations struggling in different aspects of life and this is the main reason I wanted to take this adventure to New York! 

 I am so excited to travel to New York! I think this trip is going to expand my cultural competence, give me the opportunity to learn about GMHC and how to help people of this population, as well as build connections and relationships with the great group of people I am traveling with!

I also can’t forget to mention seeing time square and a show on Broadway! I just can not wait for this experience! 

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May 2024