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Eastern Volunteers Abroad

April is national volunteer month! To celebrate, the Hawk Herald interviewed junior Anna Devarenne and freshman Seth Wolowski about their experiences volunteering abroad.

Anna played volleyball with the children in the Dominican Republic.

Where did you volunteer, when, and for how long?

Anna: “This summer, I went to the Dominican Republic for all of June.”

Seth: “I went to Uganda 3 years ago. I’ve gone 3 times. Each trip lasted around 10 days.”

What type of volunteer work did you do?

Anna: “It was a service trip. I stayed with a host family. Every day our group would go out to summer camps for kids who live on the streets. We helped to get them out of child labor and unsafe homes and give them a taste of childhood.”

Seth taught the kids in Haiti how to make glasses out of pipe cleaners.

Seth: “We were supporting a ministry that helps children in Uganda to get an education and receive fair treatment. We taught the kids about Christ and took care of them. Last time I was in Uganda, I had the opportunity to teach a class. I’m into engineering, so I taught kids about engineering through fun activities. We made paper airplanes and kites.”

Who did you travel with?

Anna: “It was an organization called CIEE. Everyone comes in from all over. There was someone from South Africa, but most people were from the United States.”

Seth: “We volunteered with an organization called PCM, which stands for Parental Care Ministries. My first and third trips were with my whole family, and my second trip was with my dad and brother.”

What is your favorite memory from your trip?

Anna: “I loved meeting  new people from around the United States, kids in the Dominican Republic, and also my host family.”

The children in Haiti love orange soda.

Seth: “During my first trip, we climbed a small mountain with some of the kids. We gave them marshmallows. Most of them had never had marshmallows before, so I loved seeing their reactions.”

How did your experience impact you?

Anna: “It broadened my worldview, exposed me to a different culture, and immersed me in that culture. It was really interesting to experience being outside of the bubble of Grand Rapids.”

Seth: “It changed my perspective. As a kid, I never saw poverty to the extent that I saw in Uganda. It taught me to be more thankful for what I have and to show my love for what I have by helping others.”

Anna gave the kids a hug goodbye.

Do you plan to volunteer abroad in the future?

Anna: “This summer, I’m going to India. I will be working with kids who live on the streets, mainly homeless girls. We will be teaching them English and hygiene.”

Seth: “I’m not sure if I will go with the same organization, but I definitely plan to volunteer abroad again.”