East Bay Graduate Pursues Volunteer Opportunity Overseas

By Kayla Hayes

East Bay graduate and USF Bull, Sijia Chen, loves to volunteer. Somehow between maintaining her leadership roles in high school as Class President (three years), Battalion Commander of JROTC and Captain of the tennis team, Chen would volunteer at her local library, at food drives, at Relay for Life, and other local events.

“I feel like there’s something bigger than our everyday material lives, and I want to make a difference,” Chen said.

On Saturday, July 20, Chen has the amazing opportunity to travel to Tanzania, Africa for two weeks to serve with a group of young adults through Projects Abroad (www.projectsabroad.net). There, the group will be building orphanages and health centers, teaching English, and working with children and the community.

“I really like kids because I feel like they are the future of our generation. I’m sure I can bring something to the plate and show the kids there is something to fight for,” said Chen, who has been learning Swahili in preparation for her trip.

People tell Chen that this trip will change her life, to which she responds, “No, I think this trip has already changed my life. I’ve been learning that the things we take for granted over here are a privilege for them.”

Chen is working two jobs to raise the money for the journey, but she is still in need of financial support. Between food, lodging, airfare and more, it is more than $7,000 for the trip. All of Chen’s sponsors will receive their name printed on a cloth banner that will travel with her as she works. Pictures of the banner with the children in Tanzania will go to show the good that each financial donation has accomplished.

“I promise I will be a hardworking volunteer that treasures this experience her whole life,” Chen said.

To donate to Chen’s journey to Africa, email her at sijiachen@mail.usf.edu or call 774-420-9428. You can also follow her blog to see what Chen is doing in Africa at www.MyTripBlog.org/pg/profile/schen.