As I first arrived at the airport and saw all the "young high school kids" I was very worried about my decision to participate with Youthlinc. After a little note from the youngest student on the Guatemala Team stating that was like a big sister to her, I knew I could play this role as the oldest student volunteer. From that point on I was able to share my experiences and passion for service with the others on the team. I feels that I truly gained many new little sisters from this trip!
Youthinc has now provided me with 2 years of service opportunities, and has had a sincerely positive influence on my life. The way Youthlinc is set up allows for personal local service opportunities, giving you the chance to connect to people with whom you likely would never have crossed paths with, let alone build personal relationships, even though you live in the same area! I really like this because it allows for a better understanding of the community you personally live in.
The International service is a beautiful experience. I traveled with Youthlinc to Peru (2012) and Kenya (2013), both locations were completely amazing. You work closely with the locals every day, and playing games with the kids drives the connection deep into the heart.
I honestly love my experiences with Youthlinc and hope everyone would take advantage of this impressive organization. Youthlinc provides a well rounded experience that will forever change your life, as you strive to change others.
Youthlinc has not only broadened my perspective on life but has also taught me a new way to live my life. Throughout my experience with Youthlinc I have gained more knowledge about the world around me and the important needs of others. If you are looking for a life changing experience this is one you should look into. I have gained responsibility and a love for people I did not have before. I traveled to Guatemala this year and learned what the true meaning of happiness is.
I have never felt as loved as I did while serving in Kajuki, Kenya with Youthlinc. I was absolutely amazed by the kindness, compassion and immense love every single person gave us throughout our journey. The children's bright eyes taught us about faith, the community's giving nature taught us about warm international hospitality, and their country taught us that it is more important to live simply than to simply live.
In Kenya, love isn't just a four letter word either, it is a way of life. Everything someone did for another was because of the love they held for humanity. I was absolutely honored to be surrounded by such an overwhelming emotion and to be able to return the love they had invested in me.
We all see poverty, malnutrition and hardship in the news every day, but nothing compares to actually seeing it in with your own eyes - that's when it becomes reality. Youthlinc was able to teach me how to understand my purpose as a informed global citizen and what I can actually do to help make and inspire change. I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity to be a part of such an unbelievable organization and inspiring community!
Youthlinc is unique among nonprofits because of the level of student involvement. Students plan and fundraise for all the projects. Youthlinc is hands on from the get-go. In addition, students get to make a difference locally as they serve at a chosen main service site throughout the year. But maybe the most unique thing about Youthlinc is the change that happens in its participants. Students join Youthlinc wanting to change the world and come home changed in the process. No one completes the Youthlinc experience without learning to be a better communicator, team player, and better citizen. Through hands-on projects and meaningful connections with both my team and the people we served, I came away a much better person.
I am very much welcomed by the ways and ideas on how this project is run. Its really changing lives thus creating an enabling environment as well.
Years ago I volunteered with a group in an international setting whose mission was to create life-long humanitarians. Although the experience was memorable, a key component was missing from their vision: local service. My local service opportunity enabled me to work closely with young children who were struggling with reading. This experience helped me to see the value of continual service at one location.
My international service experience in Kenya was awe-inspiring. On our final day of teaching, we visited the Kamuteria Primary School. I had the opportunity to teach in their Special Needs classroom, and from the moment I stepped into the room, I knew my life was changed forever. About 30 individuals with disabilities, ranging in age from 5 – 20+ years, filled the small and crowded school room. I walked around and shook hands with each one and asked their names. The teacher followed me and helped to voice the names of students that were nonverbal. One boy with autism quickly caught my eye. Paris was a bright-eyed active young boy who couldn’t sit still enough to remain in a chair and was fascinated by interactions with others. I knew the moment he threw his crayons out the window and then left the room to retrieve him, that I had a good one on my hands. He and the other students enjoyed looking at pictures of animals and recreating the noises and movements they make. They colored Spiderman coloring pages, sang and danced to “Abiyoyo,” and thoroughly enjoyed the balloon time. Picture 10 balloons floating around the room and hearing squeals of excitement each time one popped and you’ll begin to understand the magic of that moment. Just before leaving the class, I viewed a demonstration of how one of the students makes placemats. Not only does she make the placemats, but she teaches other students how to make them. This is an incredibly important aspect to this classroom, to prepare the students to earn money. Finally, the entire school gathered under a large tree and performed several songs and dances for us. We felt extremely honored to be their guests that day. Then the students from the Special Needs class presented gifts in the form handicrafts made by their parents to our group. Several of us accepted gifts and expressed our gratitude to the students as tears filled our eyes. That day was so life-changing for me that since returning to the United States I have begun collecting money to help build a dormitory, kitchen, and extra classrooms for those students with Special Needs. What a beautiful moment in my life that will never be forgotten.
My life-changing experience with Youthlinc has truly enhanced my life-long goals to serve others both near and far.
Youthlinc is a local Utah Organization that focuses on both local and international volunteer work. I had volunteered abroad before my contact with Youthlinc, and that was an amazing experience, but what really attracted me to Youthlinc was the local service aspect. I loved that as an organization they highlighted the needs of our communities, and helped us as a group realize opportunities to serve are not limited developing countries. I chose to volunteer at a local elementary school that deals with overcrowding and poor test performance. It was an eye opening experience to see that an "inner city" school existed here in Salt Lake. I loved getting to know the children and the teachers. It was also really great to see the difference that one person, a good teacher, can make in a child's life. My experience in Kenya was unlike anything that I could have prepared myself for or imagined. I feel like for the 7 months prior to leaving I read every article and watched every documentary on Kenya I could find, but I couldn't have known what the experience would do to my heart and soul. The people I met and the lessons I learned will forever be with me. I know that we were there to teach, serve, and improve lives, but we learned, received, and improved our own lives and perspectives equally if not greater than the people of Kajuki. I feel that given my fields of study through University that I have a fairly decent grasp on the English Language, but I have yet to find the words adequate to describe my experience. Things like amazing, awesome (in the true sense of the word), poignant, etc... come to mind, but I have and do use those words in my daily life and this was not like anything in my daily life. I will search until I have found the right adjective for Kenya 2013.
I heard of Youthlinc through a teacher at my school who had been a team leader and was preparing to do so again and also from two friends who participated in the 2012 Service year. I applied and was accepted and have learned so much since. I was required to complete 60 community service hours and by doing so, I learned the value of truly serving others! Traveling to Guatemala opened my eyes to the many ways one person can be of service to others and it was the experience of a lifetime. Serving and helping others as a part of Youthlinc has shown me that I can make a difference in people's lives and change myself for the better when I focus on serving other people.