Western students hope volunteering abroad will start domino effect
By John Matisz Metro London
Next week, six Western University undergrads will embark on an eye-opening experience.
“It’ll be like preaching to the choir a little bit,” Alexandra Braun-Woodbury, 22, said, “but it’s definitely still a reality check.”
Braun-Woodbury and a handful of peers — Ashley Hassard, Michele Ivanisevic, Joanna Arniotis, Kristy Race, and Elyse Golian — will touch down in the rural town of Frankadua, Ghana, on May 1. They’ll stay in the Sub-Saharan African nation until the end of the month, volunteering at a local elementary school and orphanage.
“Of course we want to educate ourselves, but this is mostly about inspiring others.” — Ashley Hassard, Western undergrad
Since the globally minded group is made up of some aspiring teachers and a few sociologists/economists, it’s not a total shock they’re set to fly overseas.
What is perhaps surprising is that they don’t want recognition for conducting a month-long good deed. Instead, they want you to join them.
“Of course we want to educate ourselves, but this is mostly about inspiring others,” said Hassard, a 21-year-old Toronto native.
Although there are humanitarian programs at the university, such as Western Heads East and Alternative Spring Break, Hassard and company opted to go through International Volunteer Headquarters.
The decision, she said, will give them some more freedom and chance to really connect with the community.
“You have to have a bit of an adventurous streak,” Hassard added in regards to what it takes to volunteer abroad.
Ivanisevic, who will be volunteering internationally for the first time, is anxious to work with African children. “They’re the future of Ghana,” Ivanisevic said.
For travel-obsessed Braun-Woodbury, it’s taken a while, but she’s finally valuing time spent overseas. “It’s a completely different experience,” she said of helping complete strangers in a foreign country. “When you travel just to travel, you feel a little lost. You can take away a lot more from something like this.”
To follow their journey, visit ProjectGhana2012.org.