Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous member of our alumni family, the UCM Foundation created a summer outreach program, the Global Vision Endowment, in 2008. Through this scholarship, more than 80 individuals over the past 10 years have been given the opportunity to spend two weeks abroad, partnering with Global Volunteers.

 

This past summer, 10 UCM students traveled to Iringa District, Tanzania, and worked alongside a Global Volunteer host to learn a local village’s needs. They focused on three main areas: an English camp, home visits and a labor team.

 

global vision students

 

Katie Kim, a UCM international studies major, said she applied for the scholarship because of inspiration she got from a class at UCM called Oil, Water and Food Insecurity, which focused on stunted growth due to malnutrition or a lack of appropriate nutrition. “I wanted to take what I had learned, just a little bit from that class, and see if it would be at all helpful in a totally different environment,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about Tanzania before. I thought it would be super cool to see hands-on what is Global Volunteers doing.”

 

At the English camp, volunteers taught young children the alphabet, shapes and numbers, and older children vocabulary and how to have conversations. Mikayla Cowan, a social work major, said the children were eager to learn, because their opportunities grow infinitely once they know English. “We would teach the kids and then we would have playtime,” she said. “We’d go in the fields, but often they would take the books that we used to teach them and they would sit down in the grass and read the books to us, read with us or look at the pictures, play with your hair or just hold your hand. They wanted to be with you and they wanted to be near you and they wanted to learn and interact and that was really cool.”

 

global vision kids

 

On home visits, students were paired with a caregiver and went to four to six houses per day. They educated mothers about hygiene, boiling water, nutrition, family planning, and made sure their babies were growing properly. “If they had any questions or concerns, we would talk to them about it,” Cowan said. “They were so welcoming and inviting and so polite.”

 

The labor team worked alongside the men of the village, men from surrounding villages and some women as well. “They would be carrying a bucket of bricks on their heads downhill, while I was barely carrying a bucket of water trying not to spill it,” Cowan recalled. “We had to make concrete ourselves so we got the sand and water and mixed it up. They just used everything they had and they were so resourceful; it was amazing.” The team helped create an emergency vehicle parking lot and a new generator pad for the village.

 

Annie Bock, a middle school education major, said she applied for the scholarship because of her interest in teaching internationally. “My whole future has been changed by this trip,” she said. “I always wanted to teach abroad, teach internationally, and teach English, but I never had an opportunity to actually do it. There’s a difference between wanting to do something and knowing that you can.” Bock said the trip helped her build confidence, a structure for her future and connections she’ll have for life. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity because I wouldn’t have gotten to know any of that if I didn’t go on this trip,” she said.

 

Kim said the trip has influenced her to focus her career on teaching English to non-English speakers—her breakthrough moment. “I’ve decided to pursue a graduate degrees in linguistics and teaching English as a second language,” she explained. That wasn’t the only thing she discovered, however. “I learned a lot about generosity and kindness, because everyone in Tanzania just shared so much with me and they were so welcoming,” she said. “They had no reason to welcome a foreigner into their house who doesn’t know anything about their language or culture, but they did.”

 

Cowan said the trip was a life-changing experience. “This scholarship was amazing; I was so blessed and it was just phenomenal to receive this,” she said. “Even through the language barrier, even through the age gaps, even through the completely different cultural lifestyles, I learned that I can connect with a human all the way across the world. It opens your eyes to other people and it was a very important change of perspective. The world is so big and we’re so small, but we can also make such a big impact.”

 

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