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Monday, May 31, 2010


Who: All high school and college students who are interested in becoming more efficient, effective, and strong leaders who have an interest in Operation Smile (Even those who don't are invited!)

Where: ISLC '10 will be held in Denver, Colorado

When: August 1-5, 2010

What is ISLC?...

ISLC-Only 4 simple letters, yet so hard to describe.

The Operation Smile International Student Leadership Conference is held each August in a different University around the world. Hundreds of students from the United States and Internationally join together for a 4 days of becoming inspired, motivated, taught and creating life-long friendships along the way. Students are roomed on-campus and randomly placed in groups which are lead by a member of the ELC (Executive Leadership Counsel). These groups will become your family over the conference. Team names and colors are assigned, and bonding activities are held like team cheers, dances, and a major highlight of the conference- The Games. As the theme differs yearly, so does the name of the games. However, one things that stays constant is the team unity and spirit you feel as you take on challenges in a “Mini Olympics” against other teams.

Speakers are brought in from all over the world to share inspiring stories and advice to become the best leader and person you can become. Among the favorites is acclaimed speaker Robert Pruitt, who recently came home from a mission to Cambodia and has served several missions for Operation Smile. Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee, the co-founders of Operation Smile, also make a point to come speak to the students.

A service project is held each year

Breakout Classes are also offered that are centered around club awareness, fundraising, missions, leadership, self-empowerment and unity. These breakouts are a great place to share and learn ideas to better yourself and club in the future.

Aside from the learning parts of the conference, ISLC also offers several huge fun events. The main one being an Iparty, or, International Party. Because the conference attracts students from all around the world, each student is invited to bring items to show and sell fro their specific area. In the past, jewelry, papyrus, food, souvenirs and other fun items are brought to be sold to other students with all proceeds going towards Operation Smile. There is also an auction held with donated items from students. The Iparty is always a hit and proceeded with a dance party. You’ve never seen a dance party until you’ve been to an ISLC!

Each year, students are taken off campus to a local attraction specific to the area. In 2008, it was Sea World in San Diego, and last summer, Busch Gardens in Virginia. This is just a few hours to go have fun with new friends and enjoy the surrounding area.

Overall, the ISLC is a life changing experience. Personally, I have met best friends there that I will always have for a lifetime. The students you will meet at ISLC have been through everything. They are your inspirations and mentors. I could not believe that people my own age could be so motivational and accomplished. Your knowledge about other cultures and your respect for yourself, as well as the world, heightens enormously. The reason why I attended my first ISLC was quite frankly because I had nothing else to do that summer after being denied by another camp I had wanted to attend. It was there that I first learned about Operation Smile, and from then on I fell in love with the organization. Helped start a club at my school, worked really hard, attended 2 ISLC’s, and even applied for a Medical Mission and got accepted. I recently came home from my mission to Amman, Jordan which drastically changed my entire outlook on life for the better.
Irish boys!
Operation Smile is not just a charity that gives others surgery for free. It is a message of love and inspiration.
Attending ISLC is always a high experience for me and I look forward to it yearly. I can confidently say that it has changed my life. No matter how strong your involvement with Operation Smile is, I would not hesitate to attend. It will change you. It will give you the gateway into the thing that has brought me the most happiness and joy in my life.

ISLC Early registration closes on May 31, after which the price will increase and your chances of being accepted will be smaller. ISLC gets better and better each year. This year, you will definitely be inspired to Be the Change.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pampanga, Philippines

Today, my friends Mary Claire Craig and Melanie Boyle are making their way to the Philippines on their Operation Smile medical mission. Pampanga is a new cite for Op Smile, and they are truly two wonderful girls who will do incredible things to help change the world.
Mary Claire!

Mary Claire was the first one I met at MTW this January in Norfolk. We met each other at the airport because we both had really early flights. Melanie was my roommate while we were at the workshop! Both are outstanding, positive, down to earth, sweet girls. I am so happy I got to meet them this year. Both have been working very hard on getting prepared for their missions and I am so so so excited for them to experience it!!

Mary Claire has a mission blog as well, which I would urge you to please read and comment on. You can find  it

Good luck Mary Claire and Melanie!
Love you both!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mission Blogs

Blogging has served as a great resource for me- both in my personal life and for Operation Smile. Since I started my blog in January of 2010, it has grown tremendously and helped many of my peers. I encouraged others to start their own blogs and since then have had many questions arise that I hope to answer here. 

The first portion of this post is simply FAQs about mission blogs. The second portion is how to set up your very own blog.

Q. Who/Why should start a blog?
A. I would say anyone who has a desire to share with others the blessings they enjoy from their passion and journey with Operation Smile. Dr. Magee himself has told us students how much they invest in us to share our stories and grow the organization. A blog is a very simple and modern way to share these incredible experiences with the world and help spread the message.

Q. How much does it cost?
A. As far as a monetary amount, a blog costs nothing. It is free for anyone to use and create. However, creating a blog does come with responsibilities and obligations. While it does not cost me any money to maintain this blog, it is an enormous investment of time and effort to keep it updated and interesting. This should not serve as a discouragement to your blogging though. I promise it is so worth it and you will really see the blessing it will become. While I have decided to pursue my blog beyond my mission, others have left theirs to simply stand as a journalistic and inspirational reminder of their time on their mission. There is no obligation to continue a blog as I have.

Q. How does it work?
A. There are  many means and methods in the blog world. There are different types of blogs (Blogger, Mac, OSCentral, etc). However, all blogs simply put are webpages on the internet that are likened unto an online journal. People post entries that include photos, links, and words and help communicate messages.

Q. What guidelines are there to follow?
A. There are  no specific rules to blogging. It is a personal page that you can share with others who view it. It is another type of social networking. As far as general blogging guidelines, you should always be courteous, polite, sensitive, and respectful with the material you decide to post. The internet is a very vast and open world. Especially in the context of an Operation Smile blog, you should always be respectful and mindful in the sharing of names, pictures and experiences. Many things that go on within a mission are very emotional and touching, therefore should be handled with the utmost respect. No photos of operating room and directly post-operative patient should ever be on the internet (Facebook, blogs, etc.)

***Also, if you are to create a blog specific to Operation Smile, you must remember at all times that you are standing as a representative of not only yourself, but Operation Student Programs, your school, family, friends, community, students and the organization as a whole. With this in mind, please be sure to verify facts you share with the online community for accuracy. If there are any questions about this, you should inquire of Student Programs Staff or refer to OSCentral/

Q. Do I have to bring a laptop with me on my mission to update?
A. No. You should not bring anything of much value on your mission, especially a laptop. While each mission site is completely different, you will most likely have access to a computer and the internet. When using others computers, be respectful for their time and willingness to lend it to you.

Q. When should I post?
A. On my mission, I posted daily when I returned home from either the hospital or dinner, whatever time and energy allotted. It was a very difficult thing to diligently blog my experiences from the day when I was more exhausted than I have ever felt in my life- but to me, it was worth it. However, DO NOT jeopardize your performance, enthusiasm, work ethic, energy, will or determination to blog. Use your best self judgement.

Q. What types of things should I post?
A. At first, I posted some introductory material about Operation Smile and my experience/background with the organization. I then went on to post details about donations I received, thoughts I was having, goals for my mission and so on. When I arrived in Amman, I documented my experiences and shared some insight into my mission. (You can read my Jordan experience here) After I returned from my mission, I posted about my future endeavors and experiences with Operation Smile. Fundraisers, awareness, etc. I also post news about OpSmile, inspirational/motivational messages, guides for students, or anything that my readers would enjoy reading.

For additional questions, please leave a comment or contact me through email. I would be more than happy to do my best to answer your questions!

How to start your very own mission blog- a step by step tutorial

Since I started this blog for my medical mission to Jordan, I have had many people approach me and either A) Tell me they would do their own, but they just aren't too computer-savvy, or B) Ask how to do it themselves.

Here is your answer.

To start off, do not be intimidated. If you don yourself "Technologically-illiterate", do not fear.  This is quite possibly the easiest thing you'll do online. There are several types of blogs out there, but the one that I find to be the most common and the one I use both for my personal blog and this mission blog is Blogger. Here is a step by step tutorial

1) Decide which blog network you'd like to use. I use and will be talking about Blogger.
2) One on, you can either A) Sign in with your Google account or B) Just click on CREATE A BLOG

3) Once on that page, it will ask you for basic info about yourself to create a Google account. (Email, password, etc)
4) After you have created an account, you will name your blog. I chose to name mine "B-TOWN TO A-TOWN", because I live in a city called Bountiful and we call it "B-town" here.. I know you care.
This is the name that will appear on the header of your blog.

5) At this time, you will also be asked to provide a URL address. This is the name that you type into the address bar of your browser. For example, to get to this blog, you typed in ""
Choose your own URL address and check for availability. Once you have typed in those two fields, you will be asked to pick a template.

6) Blogger will give you several options of what you would like your blog to look like. Choose the one that best fits your needs and your style. The one that I like is Minima. Keep in mind you can come back at any time to change the template of your blog. For some reason, they only give you a few options at this point.
7) Now, you are ready to start blogging! It will initially come up with the "Postings" screen. If you would like to change the template of your blog even more, click under the heading "Layout" (where you can drag and drop different elements) and "Pick new template". This will take you to a scroll down menu of a much wider variety of templates. The one that is used on this blog is Minima Lefty.
8) Play around and see what you like.
9) To Post, if you click under the heading of "Posting", you will come up to a screen with a text box. Simply start typing, and there ya go! You can link (put a line under a word and upon clicking, will take you to a different site) anything by typing a WORD OR PHRASE, navigating to the specified page you want to go to in another tab or window, copy the URL address,  then highlight the WORD OR PHRASE with your cursor, click on LINK, and paste the URL into the bar. This will take you to anywhere else you'd like to link to.
10) You can save your posts and edit them later, or post them as is.


 To add pictures, simply click on the picture icon (next to the link button) and you can either upload a picture onto blogger from your computer, or right click almost any picture on the web and select "Copy image  URL" and then select the "from web" option and paste the URL into the bar. The picture should show up in a few minutes. This is a very convenient option however, be wary of copyright infringement and always give credit to others' pictures.

You can further personalize your blog by adding a Wallpaper or Background. To do this, I recommend sites like The Cutest Blog on the BlockAqua Poppy Designs, and  Hot Bliggity Blog, though there are tons of different places out there. You simply copy the html address they give you for the background of your choice, and go under LAYOUT, and hit ADD GADGET. You will find an option called HTML/Java Script. You paste the html address they gave you in, and then click save. View your blog. The background will have appeared automatically. You can go on to change colors, fonts, etc. from there on.

If you would like a header (Mine is a map that I just edited in paint to show my travel path), you can either upload one from your computer, or from the web using URL (Again, be wary of copyright infringement).

Linking is a good way to suggest places to visit without having messy URL's within your posts.
1) Within your post, highlight the word you would like to link to
2) In your web browser, open up the specified webpage. This can be another post, another website, blog, or location. COPY the URL address (Cntrl C)
3) Click on the LINK button in your text editor. It is usually blue and is underlined.
4) A box (pictured above) will come up with the highlighted work in the box and ask you TO WHAT URL SHOULD THIS LINK GO?
5) At this point, paste (Ctnrl V) in the URL you had copied earlier
6) Click OK and you're done!

A page is simply another "page" on your blog that takes you to another location within your blog. To create a page
1) Access your DASHBOARD and click under NEW POST
2) This will take you by default to the page where you write your posts.
3) Next to the subtab NEW POST, there are additional options- EDIT POSTS and EDIT PAGES.
5) As illustrated above, click on NEW PAGE to add a new page. 
6) After you add a new page, you can individually click on the page after if appears as mine have and EDIT them to your liking. 
I have tabs for Operation Smile, OSCentral, About Me, etc. 

Everything else is pretty much self-explanatory. Play around with it and use your gadgets to add photos, text, and other fun things to your sidebar. A cool thing that I use on this blog is called StatCounter which is a free application that tracks who visits your blog from where, how long they stay, and how they got there. So it is really cool to see where you get the most hits from and if people are actually looking at it. 

If you have any other questions, don't be afraid to ask. It is so simple and really fun and easy. Blogs are a great way to communicate and share with others and I know you will enjoy it. I  have had several friends start mission blogs and they said that it was the best idea ever and they are really glad that they were able to keep it. It is fun to look back and see what you wrote because it is hard to journal while on a mission and you forget a lot when you come back. 

Good luck and happy blogging!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

***1 Click, 803 Smiles***

This is what we accomplished in 2009.. I wonder what we can do to top it in 2010!

Here's a step..

is currently in the running to win $200,000 in the

In order to win, we have ONE more chance to vote for Operation Smile to win the money. Please take the time to vote for Operation Smile by clicking 

There is no sign-up required, no survey to take, as long as you are logged into your Facebook account, you will automatically be eligible to vote. Just one click! We have the chance to create 803 lives. Please help out in any way and pass the word.

This last winter, Operation Smile was a part of a charity contest presented by PayPal called Regift the Fruitcake.  This was just a virtual fruitcake that could be passed on to friends via Facebook. The most regifted fruitcake representing a charity won $20,000. Operation Smile won FIRST PLACE! I know it was not without the incredible student programs and others who helped regift fruitcakes to their friends. Even though it may not seem like your vote or regifting counts, it counts to those in the 51+ countries we operate in today.

My friend Julia Lehmann. She just came home from her mission to Panama (Which you can read about on her MISSION BLOG) I think this is one of the sweetest photos I've seen from a student's mission. These kids are real.

While in Jordan, 104 patients got to have surgery. What immense happiness was in my soul as I witnessed lives transformed before my very eyes. But at the same time, I was so sad as I had to see friends be turned away. Over 400 patients screened, only 104 had surgery due to lack of supplies. THIS VOTE counts to those 300 who didn't get the operations they so badly needed. Please take the few seconds out of your day to vote!

We need YOUR voted by MAY 23rd!

Blog, Facebook, Tweet or do anything to pass the word!
Thanks so much for your help!
Smile! :)