Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why I joined OLPCorps!

I was sitting in the computer lab of the Gettysburg College library when future OLPCorps team member, Aimee George, approached me with a grin on her face. Enthusiastically, she explained this organization called One Laptop Per Child that she found while searching on the internet. As she was describing the goals and the outline of the group, we began scrolling through the website, and tears rolled down my cheeks as I began to picture children with these laptops and how the doors to the world would open for them, changing their lives. I realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up.

I have always loved working with children. I constantly babysit and have spent the past 5 summers teaching swim lessons to children ranging from 3 to 14 years old. For the past 2 years I have helped in elementary school classrooms. Working with children has always been a passion of mine, as there is no better feeling then seeing a child work out a problem and solve the issue by him or herself using the tools and technology given.

Throughout college, I made sure to take advantage of volunteer opportunities on and off campus. For example, I made frequent trips to Washington D.C. distributing clothes to the homeless, I volunteered at the local homeless shelter in Gettysburg, and I travelled to Nicaragua on a service-learning trip.

In fall 2007, I studied abroad in Grahamstown, South Africa with Aimee. Excited and nervous before leaving, I had no idea the impact South Africa was going to have on my life. Spending time studying, travelling and truly becoming independent for the first time in my life, placed me on an emotional roller coaster that can not be described with words. The generous people, the unique and vibrant culture, the delicious food and the miles and miles of untouched land seeped through my veins and since my time abroad, have stayed in my blood, never to leave. I fell in love with South Africa, and leaving was one of the hardest things I had ever done.

Joining OLPCorps would allow me to combine my passions; working with children, volunteering and South Africa. Not only would it allow me to return to the place I fell in love with, but it would let me return with a purpose. So after Aimee approached me in the computer lab, I knew that joining an OLPCorps team was an experience that would allow me to encourage, educate and empower many children in Grahamstown, South Africa, changing not only my life but theirs as well.

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