Saturday, February 28, 2009

"I Help Youth Tell Their Own Stories"

I'm grateful for my connection with the children at an orphanage in Chennai, India. Having volunteered once before with Global Volunteers in the Cook Islands, I was prepared to tell their stories broadly when I returned home. Weeks before my journey to Chennai, Stephen, the country manager and my translator, sent the stories the children had written in their native language, Tamil. As I read their sad stories of how they became orphans or semi- orphans, tears welled up.

Upon arrival in Chennai, my wife Anne and I were greeted by Stephen and the most adorable little girl. She had big eyes and a charming smile. She took my hand and without words said, "Thank you for coming to our country."

I experienced the same warm, greeting from the children at the SEAM (South East Asia Mission) orphanage the next evening. They flocked around us and were fascinated by my digital watch - technology is a rare commodity in their community. I showed them a special movie I had made on how to make movies. My experience in the Cook Islands where I had first begun working with children on movie making taught me to be prepared. The movie was a success in teaching them about the basics of filmmaking. Then I brought technology to the nine older children who would actually film the movie. With three cameras divided among the three teams, I was able to instruct them in simple camera operation and get the project going. Their response to the instruction was fantastic. The kids are outstanding, and given their opportunities through Global Volunteers, I could see them soaring beyond their humble surroundings. Please click to view this extraordinary film and become inspired to give of your talents to these deserving and eager children.
- Tom Barker

Monday, February 16, 2009

Student Says: "Ghana Changed My Life!"

I recently returned from Senchi Ferry, Ghana where I served for two weeks as a volunteer through Global Volunteers. It was the most amazing trip, and it completely changed my life! I had never traveled much outside of the United States, yet I have always wanted to go to new and exciting places, so this was a dream come true for me. Beside, being of service was an important consideration for me and so was being safe. Even though I was concerned at first that the wide expanse in ages among the team members would make it hard to relate to one another, it was quite the opposite. It was amazing. It was so great for us students to hear of all of the exciting places most of our team mates had been. I had lots of questions for the older volunteers, and we learned so much from them. I soon realized that outside of age, we had many things in common, especially our desire to serve and help the community!

I've been since inspired to focus my senior thesis on the Ghanaian educational system. I got everything I paid for and more! I miss Senchi Ferry immensely. I loved teaching the kids and enjoyed our weekend trips around Ghana. Ghana was overall an unforgettable, life changing experience! - Samantha Calandrino, CT