Work with Orphans Among Efforts
Recognized at Annual Diversity Awards Ceremony
Ioana Patringenaru | February 16, 2010
David Murline poses with orphans from Punta Arenas, a small town in Chile.
In the past two decades, David Murline has crisscrossed the globe aboard research vessels for UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. But there is one port in Chile that holds a particular place in his heart. That is where Murline, a ship captain, regularly visits an orphanage every time he makes port. He and his crew donate funds and organize on-board visits for the orphans.
Murline poses with a little boy who was visiting the ship during a stop in the Bahamas.
Click here for a complete list of recipients of the 2009 diversity awards.
“I would have to say every time I visit an orphanage it really tears at my heart, I cannot understand why a child has to grow up without the support of a loving family,” Murline wrote in an e-mail from aboard the R/V Roger Revelle. “When the visits are over and the kids hold onto you tightly or give you a hug it is very hard to let go. I wish I could take them all home with me.”
Murline was one of 14 individuals and 10 organizations, departments and units to be recognized for their outstanding contributions in support of UCSD’s commitment to diversity and understanding of other cultures Tuesday during the campus’ 15th Annual Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Awards ceremony.
“Diversity is fundamental to our mission,” Chancellor Marye Anne Fox told the audience at the Price Center Ballroom Tuesday.
The campus had made great strides in increasing and celebrating diversity, she also said. Last year, officials organized the university’s first women’s conference. This past summer, the campus community centers, in collaboration with Student Affairs, presented a weeklong series about community building, with a focus on social justice. This month, the UCSD community is celebrating Black History Month. Next month, it will celebrate the legacy of Cesar Chavez. California Native American Day celebrations now span much more than one day.
Maria Hernandez, a nurse manager at the UCSD Medical Center, poses with boys from a Mexican orphanage that she helps.
“Last November, UCSD’s Board of Overseers held a community forum on campus to discuss how the university can improve the recruitment of underrepresented students and enhance numerous community outreach efforts. This year, the number of freshmen applications from underrepresented students went up by 9 percent.
Meanwhile, Tuesday, diversity award recipients came from a wide range of disciplines, from student, business and academic affairs to marine and health sciences, Fox said. Their achievements ranged from helping orphanages abroad, like Murline, to fostering diversity in hiring and retention, to training colleagues to better understand other cultures. One of the award winners was Paula Doss, UCSD’s director of equal opportunity and staff affirmative action, who has been helping organize the awards for years.
Murline is currently on a research trip on the R/V Roger Revelle, so his wife and his young daughter accepted the award in his stead at the Price Center. But he wrote in an e-mail that he was deeply touched to be recognized.
“I am a little overwhelmed, very surprised, humbled, honored for my small contribution,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to work where I get the opportunity to positively influence people’s lives.”
The boys lack many basics, including clothes and school supplies
Diversity is what makes his work interesting, he said. Over the years sailing across the globe for Scripps, he has had the opportunity to get to know many different cultures. “It may sound cliché, but the more I find out about people’s differences, the more I know that we are all the same and want the same things for our lives,” he wrote.
Helping in Chile
He first met the Chilean orphans in the mid-1980s, when he was serving aboard the R/V Melville. He befriended Juan Pedro Kolofactovic, a resident of Punta Arenas, a town that serves as a hub for many research vessels. Kolofactovic and Murline put on a charity basketball game for the orphanage, pitting a team of Punta Arenas’ all-stars against a Scripps ship crew. The ship’s team would donate $100 to the orphanage after the game.
The crew would also visit the orphanage and talk and play with the children. “The more I got to know them, the more I wanted to help,” Murline wrote. Soon, the children were invited to tour Scripps ships when they were in port. Scientists talked to the orphans about the research taking place on board. The ship's cooks fixed them a nice meal.
Murline poses with wards of a Taiwanese orphanage, where his ship donated computers
One of the most memorable visits took place at Christmas. Murline’s ship had just visited Easter Island and the crew had caught a large wahoo, a tropical fish. The crew brought the fish to the orphanage and barbequed it for the children. The children were talking among themselves excitedly about their meal. They had never before tasted barbecued fish, Murline recalls.
“I have always received back much more than I would ever be able to give,” he wrote. “I just wish there was more I could do.”
Orphans in Mexico
Orphans are also one of the causes taken on by another diversity award recipient. Maria Hernandez, a nurse manager at the UCSD Medical Center, started out by helping a girls’ orphanage named Salvatierra in Tecate, Mexico. Her charitable efforts soon mushroomed. She got a church in Los Angeles to donate toys at Christmastime for the girls. She also connected the orphanage with a food bank, which gives them bread every week. Finally, the San Diego Police Department also got involved by bringing gifts for the children.
Over the years, Hernandez noticed that boys’ orphanages seemed to receive less support from the community. So, about five years ago, she started helping a boys’ orphanage, La Casa de los Pobres, in Tijuana, Mexico. The orphans, ages 4 to 17, have many basic needs, including writing paper for school, pens and pencils, underwear, and food such as tortillas, rice and beans.
Better understanding patients
Murline's wife and daughter receive his diversity award from Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.
In addition to her efforts on behalf of orphanages, Hernandez also labors to close the cultural gap between providers and patients at the UCSD Medical Center. For example, Hispanic patients sometimes believe that if they’re exposed to the cold when they’re bathed at the hospital, they will catch pneumonia. So, Hernandez got nurses to cover patients with blankets while they wash.
“My goal was to mimic our patients’ nationalities and our patients’ needs with our staff,” she said. “And I was successful.”
Hernandez credits her mother with instilling in her the importance of helping her community. A single mother of two, she would often open her home to complete strangers who had lost their homes. “If you come to our house, you’re family forever,” Hernandez said. She also said she was happy the awards would give her the opportunity to show her community the importance of diversity.
“I’m very proud,” she said.