Reflections on Service

One of the first things a UGRAD student does after settling into their host community is find community service opportunities. In a new place and culture this can be daunting, but UGRAD students never fail to impress us with their ingenuity and dedication. This year is no different. Our UGRAD students have already found impressive volunteer opportunities to give back in their host communities, and enjoy sharing their reflections on their volunteer experiences.

Betty Avude, St. Catherine University, Kenya


Betty volunteered with Loaves and Fishes helping to cook and serve meals to homeless people in St. Paul, Minnesota. Regarding her experience, Betty commented, “I feel so motivated when I can offer my service and put a smile on somebody who didn’t know where to get food. We are all equal before the eyes of God. It is good when we can think about the people who are hungry and show them some love.”

Mbarep Wicaksono, Illinois State University, Indonesia

Mbarep volunteered with the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) in Normal, IL helping teenagers with disabilities from a local high school. In his home country of Indonesia he had not had many interactions with people with disabilities so volunteering with CEC was a whole new experience. He remembers one teenager playing basketball and trying to make a basket. He wasn’t able to do it at first but he kept trying. Mbarep was impressed by the his perseverance and passion. He wrote that, ” it’s not his drive to score that matters for me, it’s his struggle and passion to do his best at what he was doing… I have witnessed a lot of people, including myself, who are completely normal but just gave up because we, at some point, fail.”

Jose Guillermo Garcia Rivera, North Central College, El Salvador

Jose Guillermo Garcia Rivera is a TESL major studying at North Central College for the year. For his community service he put his teaching background to good use by volunteering with the Junior/Senior Scholars program. This program provides tutoring and mentoring services to students at a local middle school. Jose gave a presentation about his country, El Salvador, and also played games with the students. In his words, “It was an amazing experience.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *