Summer is the perfect time to get your community involved in a cause you care about! All you need is a little creativity and a drive to create something awesome.
Not sure where to begin? Here are three ideas from Rustic Pathways alumni to help you launch your summer service plans.
Paloma Palmer | 2012 Rustic Pathways program: Village School Service
Last summer Paloma traveled with Rustic Pathways to Fiji and stayed with a host family in Nasivikoso, a village in the Highlands that Rustic Pathways has been working with for almost 20 years. While there, she taught at the village school and helped work on building a new classroom. Paloma says that when she returned home to San Francisco, she realized how much the children of the village had taught her, and she wanted to find a way to give back to them.
“I simply fell in love with Nasivikoso and the Fijian people,” she says. “When I signed up for my program, I had no idea that the children would be so enthusiastic and motivated to learn! They really inspired me.”
After speaking with Rustic Pathways’ director of community service, Ann Fuller, Paloma decided she would raise money to purchase desks and chairs for the new classroom. She started an online fundraiser and made T-shirts to sell at her school. She raised more than US$3,000 for the project and is returning to Nasivikoso this summer.
Sam Reiss | 2011 Rustic Pathways program: Tribal Issues
While traveling throughout Southeast Asia, Sam interviewed many young men and women who had been marginalized by their governments and a variety of other societal and cultural factors. Through these conversations, he noticed that a strong grasp of the English language opened up many well-paying job opportunities to Southeast Asian youth. Without knowledge of English, those jobs were unavailable.
“I started to see the utmost necessity of fostering a young population that has an understanding of, and compassion for, other ways of being,” he says.
After returning home, Sam founded X-Change the World, an online educational platform that brings English-speaking skills—and other educational opportunities—to youth across the world. X-Change the World now connects Burmese refugees in Northern Thailand and students in Kenya, Laos and Vietnam with students from Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles and St. Albans Academy in Washington, D.C. In 2013, the Jefferson Awards for Public Service awarded X-Change The World second place in the “Education and Literacy” category of national youth service.
Amanda Nocera | 2012 Rustic Pathways program: Life in the Bateyes
When Amanda traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2012, it was the first time she had been on a plane or traveled to an unfamiliar country. Learning about the desperate situation of Haitian workers in the batey communities across the country inspired Amanda to start a club at her school when she returned home. She also launched “Project Batey: Giving Dominicans a future” as part of her senior project.
Now a freshman in college, Amanda spent her senior year of high school using these two initiatives to raise awareness about how important it is for batey community members—the majority of whom had been smuggled across the border with false promises of a better life— to obtain birth certificates. She explained to members in her community that the Dominican government will not issue any batey inhabitant a birth certificate because they have a Haitian heritage. With no nationality documentation, inhabitants are unable to escape poor labor conditions and insufficient wages in the bateyes—and they’re even prevented from going to school.
“If they leave (without a birth certificate), then when they are stopped by the Dominican Republic military who patrol the streets, they might be killed,” she says. “In the Dominican Republic, there are armed guards everywhere, at every street intersection, and they usually ride around the bateyes.”
Amanda and her club raised almost US$5,000, which is enough money for 60 people to purchase and receive the documentation they need in order to get an education and more equal living standards in the Dominican Republic.
What you can do
Online fundraising websites such as Indigo and GoFundMe can help you raise money for a cause or service project. You can easily create a profile for your project, set a fundraising goal and share the details with friends and family via social media and email.
Creating and selling gear (such as T-shirts) to promote your project is also a great way to raise funds! Tee Spring lets you create high-quality screenprinted tees with zero upfront costs. They ship directly to your customers, and you get to put the profit toward your fundraising goal.
Still want to do service abroad?
Take a look at these summer 2014 opportunities with Rustic Pathways.