Meet the Students: Amy Gardner

AmyGThis is my first official blog post for the South Africa forum which excites me to no end because this marks the beginning of my very long journey to Cape Town. I am currently a senior at Quinnipiac University with a major in Film, Video and Interactive Media along with a minor in Political Science. I have a very strong interest in global affairs and global awareness so I hope to make documentaries about stories and people that matter all over the world. I know I will be intrigued by the people and circumstances that we will see when working in Cape Town and I hope to retell these stories and experiences through film.

I have always been fascinated by Africa since I was a child. My father went to Africa when he was in his 20s and I remember sitting in the dining room watching the slide projector light up our wall with beautiful photos of children, lions, elephants, zebras and large empty deserts. Zebras were my favorite animal at the time so I immediately grew fascinated with Africa (shallow- I know). I remember my dad teaching me about the dangers of buying ivory and the harm it causes elephants. These stories of adventure and exotic landscape had sparked my interest and desire to visit these places and see them for myself.

I love that this trip offers us the chance to volunteer and meet people of South African villages. I have had previous experience with volunteer work and each one has given me a special and unique gift. I had done a week service trip to Costa Rica many years ago when I was in 8th grade. I lived in a hut and worked in a very poor village teaching them English, fixing up the school and building a bathroom for the poorest family in town. That experience changed how I continued my life because it made me fall in love with the idea of meeting people from different cultures and lifestyles and realizing that although there are noticeable differences, these people are exactly the same as me and other people I knew.

This past spring I had the privilege to go on another service trip through the Albert Schweitzer Institute. I went to Nicaragua to help build a school and live with a host family alongside other students from Quinnipiac. Once again I was reminded of the beautiful connection between people despite a language barrier and several cultural differences. I was treated like family from day one and that is something I will never forget. I know this is cliche, but the people of Nicaragua gave me a whole lot more than I gave them. I have had several other volunteering experiences, but these two are the most relatable to what I assume I will be encountering in South Africa.

I cannot wait to being my journey to South Africa with this group!

-Amy

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