2013: Social Development International, Cameroon
Antonia has a deep rooted passion for the developing world and is specifically concerned with issues revolving around social justice, poverty alleviation and gender equality. This focus lead her to Humboldt State University where she obtained a B.A. in International Studies with an emphasis in Post-Colonial Africa and Globalization and a minor in French and Francophone studies. During her time at university, she was allowed the flexibility to create a self-designed independent study abroad program which took her throughout 13 countries in East and West Africa and gave her invaluable training for the future. While abroad, she conducted her own research on cultural traditions, root causes of conflict in Central Africa and the life of refugees in Uganda. She also taught English, implemented an Environmental Education program and further developed several cross-cultural communication skills.
Acknowledging the magnitude of the International Development field, Antonia wants to find her calling by participating and working in as many different sectors as possible while gaining practical skills and experience. All of her pervious development work has been on the continent of Africa and for her fourth trip, Antonia will be working as a Community Service and Development Intern for Social Development International (SDI) in Buea, Cameroon for six months. She will spent the entirety of this time living and working amongst Cameroonians emerging herself into the community whilst soaking up the culture and learning as much as possible about the community and their needs. She would like to ensure that SDI’s projects are self-sufficient and effective by performing needs assessments and collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data. This internship will also give Antonia the opportunity to implement any programs or workshops that her, SDI and the community see fit.
Since graduating in May 2012, Antonia has spent two months in Montreal, Quebec, Canada enrolled in a full time intensive French immersion program to strengthen her language proficiency for French speaking Cameroon. She has also completed an Advance TESOL [Teaching English as a Second Language] Certification so that she is ready to teach abroad if need be. Antonia is ecstatic to be part of the Omprakash community and is looking forward to sharing her stories, resources and media – hopefully, inspiring perspective volunteers to find an Omprakash Partner they can work with.
2012: Shanti Bhavan, India
Carlyn Miller is from Glasgow, Scotland. She studied Politics and International Relations for 4 years at the University of Dundee and then progressed to earn her Master's Degree in Human Rights and International Politics at the University of Glasgow. Her dissertation focused on global poverty and social obligations to allevite it. Now Carlyn aims to put theory into practice.
Carlyn will work as a teacher at Shanti Bhavan in Tamil Nadu, India. Shanti Bhavan was founded on the premise that all children, no matter what their background, should be given the same opportunities to flourish. These children are provided with shelter, food and a high quality education. Before joining Shanti Bhavan, Carlyn worked as a teacher with a children's project in Jaipur
2012: Expand Peru, Peru
Born in Shaoyang, China and raised in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Leah Davidson is currently in her first year at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, and microfinance. At Wharton, Leah is part of the Intercultural Leadership Program and the Compass Fellowship Program, the latter of which provides students with training and mentoring to launch their own social ventures. Leah developed an interest in traveling when she taught English to teenagers in Spain during the summer of 2011 and received a scholarship to participate in an educational expedition to Antarctica with Students on Ice.
From mid-June to the end of August, Leah will volunteer with Expand Peru in Huancayo, Peru. Expand Peru contributes to the education, health, and poverty relief of at-risk children and teenagers in impoverished Peruvian communities. While in Peru, Leah plans to establish a microgrant project to help teenage girls jumpstart their own microenterprises. She will also volunteer in Expand Peru's Casa de Bebes. To prepare for her volunteer abroad experience, Leah is studying Spanish, teaching a curriculum on entrepreneurship and business fundamentals at a local high school in Philadelphia, and volunteering at the Baring House Crisis Nursery, which provides temporary care for children at risk of neglect. She plans to blog and create a documentary about her experience, which can be shown through Omprakash and Expand Peru. Her goal is to create a sustainable program that can serve as a future volunteer opportunity under the Expand Peru umbrella. Leah recently launched her own website to make volunteer, travel, academic enrichment, and scholarship opportunities more accessible to young people in her region. She plans to also showcase Omprakash through this platform.
2012: Lumana, Ghana
Stephanie is a third semester Master in Public Administration student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, focusing in health and education in Latin America. She decided to pursue her masters after working at a bilingual school in Honduras. Her capstone for her MPA is a program called the Development Project Management Institute Practicum. Last January she received her Development Project Management Certificate in order to complete her capstone.
In February 2013, she will be traveling to outside Accra, Ghana to work with Omprakash Partner, Lumana. With Lumana, she will be working to identify and support local small and medium enterprises. With the Omprakash Network, she be sharing some resources and consulting tools that can be used in a variety of grassroots organizations. She will also be sharing her experiences with her MIIS colleagues, because Omprakash is a great resource for aspiring international development professionals.
2012: Unidas Para Vivir Mejor, Guatemala
Mariah has been working with the Omprakash Partner, Unidas Para Vivir Mejor or UPAVIM, as its English Program Coordinator since March 2012. UPAVIM is a women’s artisan cooperative located in an impoverished neighbourhood on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Mariah has been most impressed by UPAVIM’s self-sufficient sustainability and unique governing structure in which a council of the cooperative’s members oversees the management of each program. This organizational design has allowed her to expand the cooperative’s English Program in a method that is consistent to the needs of the UPAVIM and the community it services.
Mariah will continue her work with UPAVIM through 2013 and will be extending the school day to include a full day of bilingual immersion. This program will expose the children to English from an early age providing them with a greater opportunity towards gaining fluency. Additionally the program will increase the children’s in school time from 25 hours a week to 40 hours a week and have the focus of hands on Science, Math and Reading.
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Mariah graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2010, parting with Bachelor degrees in International Studies and Spanish. Shortly thereafter she taught English in South Korea at Eduk Learning Academy. Before arriving in Guatemala, Mariah had been working with All Hands Volunteers in Leogane, Haiti assisting in the reconstruction of schools destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 2010.
2012: SKIP, Peru
Sam is a British graduate with a Masters in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford. After completing his program, he spent 10 months volunteering with Supporting Kids in Peru (SKIP) as an English teacher. SKIP is an education and community development NGO based in Trujillo, Peru. SKIP has been working in the impoverished outskirts of Trujillo since 2003 and uses a holistic approach to development, fostering “the capacity of children and families to be the principle agents of change in their own lives.” In January 2013 he will be returning to Peru to work with SKIP as communications coordinator.
As both a Volunteer and PhotoPals grant recipient Sam envisages that his role at SKIP will enable him to develop and maintain on-going partnerships between SKIP, Omprakash and its Partners and other organisations that have a similar and complementary ethos. Sam’s photo project will aim to get students looking at the natural environment around them and communicate this through the medium of photography. He then hopes to be able to create a portable exhibition and workshop that can be transported to various arts spaces, community centres and institutions.
Sam has a broad range of experience working with young people and community groups both in the UK and in Peru and Spain. He has a keen interest in peace education and the links between conflict resolution and the natural environment. Sam enjoys travelling, music and cooking all enthused by a passion for discovering the world and its people.
2012: Honduras Children, Honduras
Last September Jennifer spent three months volunteering with Omprakash Partner Honduras Children, located in the small beach town of El Porvenir. Last year she helped with the Porvenir English Program (PEP) and taught in a public school in La Union. She also helped run the Vacations Activity Program (VAP), which gave the children a safe place to learn and have fun during their break from school. When offered the opportunity to return to Honduras as Volunteer Coordinator for VAP, Jennifer gladly accepted. She is excited to return to Honduras.
Jennifer is from Columbus, Ohio, where she recently graduated from Ohio State University with a major in Early Education and a minor in Spanish. She has over 8 years of experience working with children and would eventually like to pursue a career teaching ESL to children. Jennifer's Hispanic heritage has been very important and influential in her life. Traveling to Colombia to visit her mother’s family opened her eyes to extreme poverty. Witnessing this inspired her to want to live a life in which she is helping others.
While in Honduras she plans to support Omprakash by visiting Omprakash Partners as well as other volunteer organizations located in Honduras. She plans to blog about her experience in Honduras and hopefully encourage others to volunteer. Once back in the United States she will talk to student organizations at Ohio State as well as McGill University in Montreal about Omprakash and its international Partners.
2012: Trashy Bags, Ghana
Alleea Hill is in her final year at Rutgers University and is majoring in Journalism. While some may confess their passions for sports, reading or whatever else, Alleea’s passion is sharing her voice. Majoring in Journalism allows her to use her voice and uncover and reveal stories through multimedia, interviews and writing.
Journalism also allows Alleea to give a voice to those without one. Alleea has always traveled and been exposed to different cultures abroad, but nothing changed her life like her study abroad experience in Accra, Ghana. She spent five months traveling, meeting new friends, studying at the University of Ghana and fully immersing herself in the Ghanaian culture.
In May, Alleea will volunteer with Trashy Bags in Accra, Ghana. Trashy Bags fights to put an end to the massive amounts of plastic waste that clutters the streets of Accra. Trashy Bags believes in recycling and creates fabulous trendy products from the waste. Alleea is excited and ready to become a part of the Trashy Bags team.
Alleea plans to expand the vision of Omprakash and tell her story about volunteering. She will create a website which will be the platform for vibrant photos, multimedia and tips to influence and help others in regards to volunteering, all of which she will also share on her Omprakash profile. At Rutgers, Alleea plans to spread the word of volunteering with Omprakash through planned events and different organizations.
2012: Trashy Bags, Ghana
Tahnia Hawkins is in her last year at Rutgers University where she is studying psychology. She is passionate about improving the overall mental and physical health of children and their families in resource-disadvantaged communities.
After being a mentor for a few years, she started a mentoring program
through the Rutgers Student Outreach Council catering to inner-city youth at a local charter school in Newark, NJ. This upcoming May she will be traveling to Accra, Ghana to volunteer with Trashy Bags, a social enterprise that makes recycled eco-friendly bags and gifts from plastic trash. It is estimated that in Ghana, waste produced from plastic packaging amounts to 270 tons a day. Most of this waste is left in the streets of Ghana and other West African Countries. This problem is clogging the drains, causing frequent flooding and increasing the risk of disease. Pollution also has an enormous impact on the community as whole, mentally as well as physically. By creatively designing initiatives to educate the public on the importance of keeping the environment clean, Tahnia hopes to make recycling with Trashy Bags fun, fashionable, and affective. Her biggest goals is to enact change by spreading the Omprakash vision of positive social involvement. Tahnia is dedicated to being the driving force that inspires others to seek out volunteer opportunities locally as well as internationally through opportunities with Omprakash.
2012: Moroccan Center for Arabic Studies
Meghan is a New Zealander who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology, English Literature and Film Production at Victoria University of Wellington. Having worked as an intern with the United Nations Development Fund for Women over the summer, she decided to discover for herself gender inequality beyond what is written in text books.
With proficiency in the French language and a long-held interest in Islamic societies, she chose to assist the Moroccan Center for Arabic Studies (MCAS), which aims to alleviate the struggles of the impoverished and repressed in the capital city of Rabat. Meghan’s work will involve assisting Amnesty International as a women’s empowerment intern, writing reports and organising events for Rural Women’s Awareness Day and 16 Days of Activism. She will also work for a local women’s NGO that deals with cases of rape and domestic violence, gaining a broad perspective on the problems affecting women in the Maghreb. In addition, Meghan hopes to address issues in gender and education through classes she will give to a group of girls at an underfunded public school.
Throughout her time, Meghan will prepare an informational video to promote volunteering with MCAS, Omprakash and its Partners. Meghan is the first grant recipient to come from New Zealand and the first to volunteer in an Arabic speaking country. She aims to use this opportunity to its full advantage, promoting foreign volunteer assistance to other Moroccan NGOs, as well as helping New Zealanders learn about and utilize the Omprakash network.
2012: Asociacion CEPIA, Costa Rica
This fall, Krystin will be traveling to Huacas, Costa Rica to volunteer with CEPIA, a non-profit organization that promotes culture, health, and education for children and families living in extreme poverty. In collaboration with CEPIA, Krystin will be implementing a Development and Empowerment Project designed to create a sustainable cycle of healthy development, female empowerment, and community involvement for young children and pre-teen girls. Following her time in Costa Rica, Krystin is eager to discuss the work of CEPIA and the broader Omprakash network through a series of presentations to high school and college students in the United States. She hopes that by spreading Omprakash message, students will be inspired to seek out volunteer opportunities both in their local communities and around the world.
Krystin grew up in Vermont and graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Neuroscience. She went on to receive her Master of Science from Brandeis University in the same field. Following her graduate work, she pursued career opportunities in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Michigan. Krystin has also worked with children and women in areas of special needs counseling, domestic violence therapy, and female youth empowerment. While she is passionate about helping people of all ages, she is primarily interested in cognitive and emotional development in children and is excited to use her background and experiences in the implementation of the Development and Empowerment Project.
2012: Asociacion CEPIA, Costa Rica
This past spring, Jordan completed his M.S. in sustainable systems at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment. This fall, he will be volunteering at CEPIA, an organization based in Huacas, Costa Rica, in Guanacaste Province. At CEPIA, his primary task will be to help the organization identify strategies for reducing the environmental impact of their own operations. While CEPIA is not an environmental organization, Jordan believes that volunteering with them provides a unique opportunity to promote environmental stewardship in an area where its importance is recognized, but resources and expertize can be lacking.
Jordan has worked on environmental issues at the local, regional, and national levels. During his Junior year in college at St. Lawrence University, he spent the fall semester in Kenya and Tanzania, where he observed and experienced the horrible (and disproportional) impacts that environmental degradation can have on rural and poor populations. These experiences prompted him to consider more closely the local impact of regional and global issues. He is thrilled about the opportunities provided by Omprakash and CEPIA to implement more environmentally sustainable practices in the community.
Jordan grew up in Livingston, NJ spending as much time outdoors as possible. He loves running, reading, writing, mountain biking, hiking and dogs. And he's very excited to begin working at CEPIA!