Alumni Spotlight: Elisabeth Baird

I am an art student at BYU, a California girl, and I love service.

Why did you choose this program?

I was looking for a way to serve. A friend of mine was going, so I decided to join in. I have always loved books, so it was a natural fit. Also, when they found out I was an art student, they let me lead the mural designs in the library. It was so much fun as they connected me with local experts, so we could make each mural highlight their local culture. I learned so much in the process.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

As I mentioned they connected me with local experts as I planned the murals. Also, when we got there, I told them what colors and materials I would need and they made sure all the materials were there when we arrived. They planned the entire trip, taking care of everything, which was great, so I could just focus on service and enjoying the experience being a part of the village!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Make sure you prepare before you go; you make such a huge impact, I wish I would have prepared more with my lessons and art projects. Also, bring tums; even though you will try amazing food, not everything is easy on the stomach.

Lastly, make sure to bring good walking shoes. We did a lot of walking as we went to every home.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

When we arrive, we take the day pretty easy, as it is a long trip. Then the first Sunday we do more service, then we head to the village.

On the first day of service, we go to school and have breakfast made by local cooks. Then the kids start to arrive at which point we separate them into groups and start a series of classes.

After lunch, we head out and do home visits until it is time to go back home. I spent most of the day painting but was able to go out and teach an art class to the kids and do some home visits.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I have traveled abroad before, so I didn't have a lot of fears. I guess you hear a lot about the crime that happens abroad, but you find that people abroad have the same fears when they travel to the US which honestly they are more justified in their fears with all the mass shootings we have.

I felt safe the entire time.

What impressed you the most in this trip?

So an important thing to me was that I would be able to use my skill. Now it was kind of obvious that they could use my art skills with the libraries, but I noticed that nursing students were able to share with kids about the medical field, and photographers taught the kids about photography. Village Book tries really hard to maximize the impact, but using all the skills present.