Alumni Spotlight: Annika Schmidt, Thailand

by on Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Alumni Spotlight highlights the achievements and stories of ISV alumni and Student Representatives. This weekly feature showcases these participants and their life-changing experience from around the world. ISV knows that volunteers make a difference, and is pleased to recognize the achievements of these outstanding university students!

This week’s Alumni Spotlight is on:

Annika Schmidt
Wilfrid Laurier University
Thailand 2011

Describe your Volunteer Project:

Located in the mountains in northwestern Thailand, we were hosted at Baan Unrak Children’s home, which was a not for profit refuge/orphanage mainly for children and single mothers escaping from the neighboring country of Burma. While we were there, we planted mulberry trees to not only help them grow their own food and cut food costs, but also to prevent soil erosion. Our main task however, was painting the newly built teenage boys home, whose completion had sort of come to a standstill. Best of all though, we got to play with, interact with, teach and learn from the kids every single day. It was hard work, it was incredibly hot, and it was a culture shock, and every day I’m gone I miss it more and more.

I had the best time with ISV because…

I get to see the entire country I am visiting, including off the beaten track locations, and I don`t have to worry about a thing. It gives me more time to focus on making friends and enjoying the whole experience.

"You arrive feeling like a tourist, and you leave feeling like a citizen." -Annika

What did you learn from your ISV Program?

Mainly, I learned to be a little less selfish and look at the big picture. Seeing the kids, and hearing their stories of loss and despair, it really gave me some perspective on my own life. I`ve learned not to let little things consume my life, because in the grand scheme of things, they are probably not going to matter, and at the end of the day, your life is what you make of it in this moment.

How has your ISV experience changed your global awareness?

Unlike a newspaper article or even a class lecture, ISV is able to put you right next to the issues, so you can see them first hand. I think because of this, I am always slightly aware, even if at the back of my mind, and it drives me to make different decisions.

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