June 30, 2011
|Lauryn and Justine Falcone volunteered in the Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital completing basic tasks such as monitoring vital signs and changing sheets as well as more interesting jobs like interacting with patients and assisting in the weekly HIV clinic.|
Rather than going home when the school year is over, imagine getting on a plane, flying halfway around the world and entering a world entirely different from the comfort and safety of the Rollins campus. You are surrounded by traffic, congestion and noise. There are no paved roads, so after getting off your plane, you travel for six hours by crowded bus to a big city. You move in with a new family that has no air conditioning, washer, dryer, or dishwasher and has limited plumbing. As you walk through the streets, you witness many children running barefoot between the shacks they call home. For dinner, you are fed only rice and bread, but you know that most of the people around you ate much less than you did that night.
For three Rollins students, this was their experience. During their life-changing volunteer experience from May 8-25 in Kumasi, Ghana, twin sisters Lauryn and Justine Falcone (Class of 2013) and Meera Laxman (Class of 2013) worked weekdays at the Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital through the program Volunteering Solutions.
The Falcone sisters wanted to travel to Africa since they were children because they “knew that many African countries struggled with poverty and desperately needed assistance.” Although the initial differences were difficult to adjust to, they loved having the opportunity to interact with a completely different culture. Lauryn was thrilled by the friendliness of the people and children. “During a simple 30-minute walk, I might have heard 30 or 40 people say hello to me,” she said. “It was not uncommon for a woman to come up to me and hold my hand as she spoke to me, or a child to run up to me with open arms looking for a hug.”
When not traveling to the town market, visiting children at the local village, or learning about their host family, the three sophomores volunteered at the local hospital. They completed basic tasks such as monitoring vital signs and changing sheets as well as more interesting jobs like interacting with patients and assisting in the weekly HIV clinic.
Even though they spent most of their trip doing volunteer work, they found it difficult to believe that every bit they did really made a difference. “In a country with such high poverty, poor infrastructure and elevated rates of infectious disease, including HIV/AIDS and Malaria, we felt a bit helpless at times,” Lauryn said. “But I know that by just being in Ghana we were making a difference, and I hope to return to Africa to volunteer in a medical setting when I am a physician.”
Volunteering has always been a part of the sisters’ lives. At Rollins, they spent a year on the executive board of JUMP (Join Us in Making Progress), and Justine will return to JUMP next year. They have worked with many organizations and programs through the Office of Community Engagement (OCE), including Pathways to College, Halloween Howl, Give Kids the World, Depugh Nursing Home and Habitat for Humanity. Last year, Lauryn started volunteering weekly at Grace Medical Home, a medical clinic for the underserved patients of Orange County, and intends to continue volunteering there until she graduates.
Lauryn knows that if not for her extensive volunteer work at Rollins, she would not be where she was today. “If it had not been for Rollins, I never would have been motivated to volunteer abroad in Ghana. As a student at Rollins, I was encouraged to volunteer and get engaged in my community as well as other areas in the country and around the world. I was inspirited by so many of my talented peers who volunteered internationally and this encouraged me to want to travel abroad myself to volunteer. My time at Rollins encouraged me to strive to be a leader in my community and to reach out to other countries in need.”
By Annamarie Carlson (Class of 2014)
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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