As Mahatma Gandhi said: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Our Ayusa students showed us just that with their entries for the 2014 Community Service Contest. Combined, our students have volunteered well over 3,300 hours of their time and we're sure even more will hours will accumulate over the remaining months of the academic year.
The CSC judges were very impressed by all students who sent in their entries and thank all of them for their service to their host communities. Our three winners, however, impressed the judges with their variety of service, tenacity to seek it out, and lasting impact that it made on both the student and host community.
Congratulations to Victoria from Brazil, Marlen from Germany, and Aml from Egypt! These three students have won a Belo tour of their choice!
Victoria is from Brazil and is currently living in Idaho. She impressed the judges with the initiative she took in finding service projects. Victoria actively sought out most of her volunteer projects and was so successful that she was sponsored by GenerationOn to put together a Christmas event for 30 families affected by domestic violence and poverty. She also partnered with Hasbro to provide these families with toys for the holidays as well as food and fun activities. Ayusa Senior Regional Director Louise Lough says that because of volunteering, Victoria “has become more self-sufficient and capable of planning, and providing these types of services without the help of others.” Louise attests to Victoria’s giving attitude: “Victoria has realized that when she thinks that she has had to do without, she finds that there is someone else who has less, and when she is able to provide a service to that person, she does whatever she can to do it.”
Marlen of Germany is currently living in Missouri. She not only completed an impressive 242 hours of community service but also made an impact with those hours. She was very involved with a local nursing home where she was able to get to know the residents and do activities with them. Marlen enjoyed crafts and playing bingo with these residents and, most importantly, she listened to their stories and learned from them. She was also very involved in a shelter for women and children who have been affected by domestic violence. She says it was a “great but also really emotional experience, because seeing these little children that are already having a hard life at age 6 is really sad and makes me want to help them.” Marlen was also involved in service opportunities through her church, the Special Olympics, school, and the local paper. Her supervisor at the paper, Kathy Colbert, says that “she was a great help - It is nice to see a youth that cares about our community and is willing to volunteer and help.”
Aml from Egypt and is also currently living in Idaho. She volunteered in a variety of projects, including Relay for Life, Buddy Walk, and on the Mayor Youth Advisory Council. Aml volunteered on the entertainment committee for Relay for Life, a 24 hour fundraising walk for cancer research, in which she attended training and meetings to prepare for the event. She also volunteered to walk with the Buddy walk, which she said “was a fun and AMAZING experience.” Her involvement on the Mayor Youth Advisory Council, a council designed to get the youth ideas involved in her host community, taught Aml that as much as she “can be bust and have a lot of work to do, [she] can find time to listen to people and help young people.” The Mayor of Middleton, Darin Taylor, even noted that “several residents have commented how much they appreciate [Aml’s] participation and example.” In all, Aml’s volunteer experiences gave her the chance to discover America: “Working helped me build AMAZING memories and feedback and carry it with me to my country. It really makes me feel that I am ambassador and should use every day to share my culture with others even they did not ask me first.”
Thank you again to all of the students you submitted their entries! You all have left a significant impact on your host community. Congratulations to our three winners!