And living a dream I am! After completing my Masters of Social Work this May, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Africa this summer for 7 weeks WITH Operation Crossroads Africa. The first six weeks are spent conducting the service work and the final week is spent leisurely exploring a specific region of Africa. I will be joining a group of volunteers from throughout the world to engage in a living/working/learning experience. My assignment has yet to be determined, but countries such as Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda have served as hosts in the past.
I am looking to use this journey as one that will not only enhance my professional skills, but also contribute to my personal growth. I did a lot of soul searching before making this decision to leave my family and comfort zone for such an extended period of time. However, with the support of all my loved ones, I plan to make the best of this experience. I am eager to enhance the lives of those in which I encounter while also undergoing my own personal transformation.
Operation Crossroads Africa was established in 1958 by Dr. James H. Robinson, who foresaw a "clear, honest, hard-hitting program" in which young North Americans would work at the grassroots level with young Africans. He envisioned young people "building bridges of friendship to Africa," and his extraordinary vision was embodied in Operation Crossroads Africa. The organization's motto is "make a difference for others, see the difference in yourself."
The programs of Operation Crossroads Africa (www.operationcrossroadsafrica.org) are designed to promote understanding of Africa and the African Diaspora based on the belief that one can truly enter another culture only by living and working in it. Called the "progenitor of the Peace Corps" by President John F. Kennedy, Operation Crossroads Africa has sent over 11,000 persons in the last 55 summers to more than 40 African countries, 12 Caribbean countries, and Brazil in pursuit of its goals.
The cost to participate in the program is $3800. However, it is my hope to raise $5,000 to cover additional travel and miscellaneous expenses. Therefore, I ask that you please support my efforts and assist me in getting to Africa. I plan to either blog while I am there or keep a journal of my experience and publish the works when I return. No donation is too small and all will be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information regarding my intentions or the sponsoring organization, Operation Crossroads Africa.
Michelle C. Bair
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