The Her Campus™ Lawrence team thought it was fitting that our kick-off article for this term would be one written by guest writer, Mattie Young-Burns. Mattie is a senior at Lawrence and has, over the years, developed a passion for AMIGOS, an international non-profit organization that helps both high school and college students develop leadership skills through community service projects in Latin America. We asked her to share some of her experience with the organization and how it has impacted her time here at Lawrence.
Check out the photo below of Mattie with a few children she met while on her program.
When my friend Ariella asked me to write an article for Her Campus™ Lawrence about what I am doing this summer I had no idea what to say. My current job as Senior Project Supervisor on a community development project in rural Paraguay seemed like the farthest thing from a magazine for collegiettes™ that generally focuses on things that are completely absent from my life here like fashion, boys and gossip.
I struggled to think about what facet of my job would be applicable to the life of an American college student. How to navigate public transportation in Latin America? No. How to teach 16 year olds how to become community leaders? No. How to live in a house with 9 other people and no functioning toilet? Definitely not. Then it hit me- I can talk about the one thing that we can’t do on campus, which is getting out and actually doing something.
But, before I get into that, let me explain exactly what I am doing here. I am working as a Senior Project Supervisor on the San Pedro project of the AMIGOS De Las Americas summer program. This is my third summer with AMIGOS, an organization that focuses on developing youth leadership and community empowerment in the Americas. Right now we have 52 high school aged volunteers working in rural communities doing projects like teaching health classes, building fuel-efficient stoves and creating community based initiatives. My job is to manage and train the supervisors who oversee this project, as well as directly supervise 5 of my own volunteers. My job can be both crazy and unpredictable; I end up doing things like delivering 30,000 bricks to rural areas, taking sick volunteers to the hospital and advising supervisors how to best deal with problems the volunteers are having.
The things that I have learned this summer are not things that I have possibly learned within a classroom: things like how to fill out a grant application (and get it approved) and how to not get ripped off while trying to purchase construction materials. These are not things that I could have possible come into contact with in my day-to-day life at Lawrence. And, while they might not seem like the most practical of skills (I mean really, how many more times in my life am I going to have to take eight 16 year olds on a crowded public bus?) the broader exposure that I got to how the world works is what is really important. I got to see, experience and get confident taking care of others and myself in a completely different culture.
So, my lovely Lawrentian ladies, what do I want you to take from this experience? Burst the Lawrence bubble, get out and learn something real. Because no matter how interesting Professor Wulf’s lesson on Aristotle was, or no matter how much fun we all had going to The Fly last weekend, it is nothing compared to what you can get out of traveling, or simply experiencing something new and different.
Best of luck on all your future endeavors!