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Student to volunteer in Tanzania

FGCU students have ample opportunities to study abroad throughout the year. From spring break trips to a semester at sea, Eagles have the chance to venture to some of the most beautiful countries in the world, all while gaining college credit.

Traveling abroad doesn’t always entail schoolwork by the French countryside. FGCU’s Office of International Services assists students looking to study abroad as well as those who wish to volunteer overseas, a less popular inquiry from students.

Jacqueline Dawood, a junior psychology major, will travel to Tanzania for two weeks this December with 25 to 30 other college students from all over the world. International Volunteer HQ, a travel company founded in 2007 that works with more than 30 countries, is sponsoring her trip.

­”Our group leader assists in all the trips that come to work in Tanzania specifically through IVHQ,” Dawood said. “It’s going to be very exciting meeting my group because well all be coming from different cultures and learning from one another.”

Dawood, who was exposed to service work at the Catholic schools she attended as a child, is excited for the experience to help children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

­”Tanzania was a total leap of faith,” Dawood said. “­I want to put myself in an environment I’ve never seen before and that I may not even be able to experience in a lifetime.”

Because of a large number of parents dying from illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, Sub-Saharan countries in Africa have a high orphan population. These children are left alone with no one to guide them. Dawood and her colleagues will clean and cook for the orphans, as well as assist with feeding programs, caring for babies and teaching. Dawood plans on collecting school supplies from her peers such as pencils, notebooks and children’s books, as well as athletic equipment for the orphans shell be working with.

­”I have a huge heart for children and feel that this would be an amazing opportunity for me to support these kids who are in need,” Dawood said.

Matt Ryan, the assistant director of the Study Abroad branch of International Services at FGCU, sees several benefits to working with outside programs such as IVHQ.

­”The best part of using program providers is that they’re infinite,” Ryan said. “A student can really go for any period of time. Volunteer trips tend to be shorter, (up to) six or seven weeks max, and practically anywhere in the world.” Ryan and the rest of the office tell students to search their heart and find a location that best meets their goals.

­”Volunteer programs tend to be more specific than study abroad trips,” Ryan said.­ “Students are really looking for a way to give back in an organized fashion where they’re going to have some on the ground support services.”

While study abroad and volunteer trips differ in experience, there are some similarities when it comes to applying and planning.

­”A lot of times people are surprised that you have to pay to volunteer,” Ryan said. “But when you’re looking at it, you’re really paying for on the ground setup and the service. There is quite a lot of work that comes with volunteering.”

The International Office has been holding information sessions regarding traveling abroad in Reed Hall room 125 throughout the month of September and into October.

As she embarks on her trip to Tanzania on Dec. 15, Dawood hopes that shell keep an open mind, and make an impact.

­”It’s not realistic for one person to change the world in 14 short days, but I hope I can build on the Childcare project with my skills and invest my work in expanding it,” Dawood said. “My one main goal is to leave the next volunteer group with a better place than that I arrived to.”

Dawood credits FGCU for giving her the encouragement to sign up for the volunteer trip.

­”I don’t think Id be at this place in my life if it weren’t for FGCU,” Dawood said. “FGCU gave me the courage to follow through with my dream of volunteering abroad, and for that I’m thankful.”

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