Why did you decide to volunteer with Amizade in Tanzania?
Joe: I studied at the University of Pittsburgh and received a certificate in African Studies. In order to receive said certificate, I needed to spend time on the ground. I had previously studied abroad in Argentina and knew I loved to travel, so this was an easy decision for me. Getting there was not so easy. My girlfriend and I both were on the same program and we each contacted family, friends, and anyone else we knew asking for donations. In the end that strategy worked and we were able to study abroad in Uganda and Tanzania.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Joe: We joined forces with two local NGO's. One was a women's empowerment organization and the other was a sustainable development group. We interviewed local women on their knowledge of human rights with the empowerment group and as a thank you for allowing us into their homes and communities, we built a water harvesting tank with the sustainable development group. It was field work by day and sustainable development and African history studies by night.
What made this volunteer experience unique and special?
Joe: The ability to partner with on the ground organizations was special. Instead of going there and saying "this is what you need" we were able to assist them in the great work they were already doing. Instead of becoming a competitor and reinventing the wheel, we built upon the hard work these NGOs had already done.
How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?
Joe: It drastically changed my life for the better. I now work at an organization called The Enough Project. We aim to prevent genocide and mass atrocities in Africa. In the fall I will be getting my Masters at the University of Pennsylvania in Non Profit NGO Leadership. Without studying abroad, not only would none of this be possible, but I would have never even been exposed to this world.