Olivia Beckerman is a freshman from Toronto, Canada planning to major in Communication. She talks about working in soup kitchens with her mom on Sundays in Toronto and her service trips to Kenya and Ecuador where she built schools and enjoyed exploring new parts of the world.
Her Campus: How did you get involved in community service?
Olivia Beckerman: I first got involved with a company called Me 2 We, an organization that inspires people to make a positive change for other communities through travel and in everyday life. This organization gave us the opportunity to go to Kenya as a family and help build a school.
HC: What was your experience in Kenya like?
OB: It was not only an incredible bonding experience for my family, but also allowed us to see another part of the world. We went on the trip when I was really young, since it was important to my parents that me and my siblings were exposed to other cultures and lifestyles that were different from my neighborhood in Toronto where all the families were similar to mine. When we were there, we helped build a library, walked to the stream to get water, and met new people.
HC: What was the biggest challenge?
OB: The biggest challenge on the trip was the language barrier with the kids we visited in Kenya, but they were so happy to play with us and easily interacted with us without words. It was incredible to see how interactions can cross the borders of language and how similar we are despite different ways of life. Also on my trip to Ecuador alone with my dad and his company, I was only 15 years old and by far the youngest person there, but soon found myself more easily able to play with and relate to the kids.
HC: What was your favorite moment in Kenya?
OB: While walking to the stream each day to get water, the kids would reach out and hold our hands, and it was incredible to see how comfortable they were with us. Even though we were strangers to them at first, they were quick to befriend us and excited to show us their daily life in Kenya.
HC: What advice would you give to people thinking about doing international community service?
OB: It may be cheesy, but my community service trip to Kenya was truly a “trip of a lifetime” that gave me a completely new outlook on not only my way of life, but the lives of others halfway across the world. It also started my passion for learning about other cultures and traveling, and gave me an authentic look into a new community through genuine service. It also allowed me to appreciate all that I have and develop my love for meeting new people and giving back to those in need.