I have always loved traveling. What’s not to love about seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new foods, and gaining new viewpoints of the world?
As a student at Michigan State University, I explored studying abroad to itch the bite from the travel bug. My sister had studied abroud in South Africa with her teaching program at MSU and loved it. But after looking into it, I ran from it. I was going to hate it.
Don’t get me wrong, studying abroad is a great experience and MSU has an excellent program for it. However, I wanted a much more authentic experience. I didn’t want to be surrounded by other Americans, translators, and a university system acting as a buffer for the culture that I was trying to experience. So I ended up in the Individual Volunteer program through the United Methodist Church. An individual volunteer is exactly what it sounds like. You are volunteering somewhere, by yourself. You usually have at least someone else there, so you’re not alone, but you’re not traveling with a big mission group.
I grew up Methodist (in fact, my great, great grandfather was a Methodist minister). In 2010, I was pretty much done with religion and believing in god, but nonetheless, I went to work for a summer at an orphanage in rural Tanzania. There’s a lot of good to be done in this world, and I figured as long as I wasn’t taking religion (and the hope it brings to some) away from people, that it would be okay.
What does this have to do with making a website?
Everything! Angel House Orphanage has a special place in my heart. I have very dear friends that I met in my travels, with whom I made lovely memories. I even sponsor a kid now that I am adulting. Five years after my initial trip, I made a return visit and it was just as wonderful as I had remembered it. Though the kids had grown, as they tend to do.
Earlier this year, Holly asked me to be part of a committee to get the Angel House website updated, along with some new collateral. Working with the “Angel House Art Department has been a crash course in cross-country collaboration as the four members are in three different time zones. Skype, Google Drive, and Facebook Messenger FTW!
Here are some pictures of where we started. You can check out grassrootsangelhouse.org to see the improvements we’ve made so far, but I’ll be sure to post when things are done!