Hello! My name is Jessica Patel and I’m from Massachusetts. I am a senior, biology major with a chemistry and psychology minor. When I first heard about this trip, I knew I had to apply. I have been involved with community service since high school but last year was the first time I traveled to another country to do service work. It was a trip to the Dominican Republic through QU301 but I have since traveled back over the summer with the DR Mission Team to continue the work that has been going on for over 20 years.
The trip fueled my passion for service and helping others. I went on to be a part of the Habitat for Humanity Alternative Break Trip to North Carolina this past spring. I have always wanted to travel to Africa and this trip will allow me to see the beauty it has to offer as well as give back and help others.
The experiences I had in both the Dominican Republic and with Habitat for Humanity are ones I will never forget. I learned so much from the people I interacted with. They were some of the most selfless people I have ever met despite living in extreme poverty. They truly gave me more than I gave them in the 10 days I spent for each trip.
I am excited to travel to South Africa and work with the Tippy Toes Foundation and the Vaatjie Primary School for these reasons as well. I want to see the children happy and be immersed in a new culture. I want to learn from them and hopefully make an impact in their lives. I hope to expand my knowledge of the history of South Africa and experience new things. I am very excited to travel with this group in January and give back to the community!