Global Youth Service Day

            Hello guys!  I am writing a short blog post for the annual 2019 Global Youth Service Day put on by Youth Service America.  Every year, people from all over the world come together for two days and complete service projects of all different kinds.  Each year people complete projects in over 135 countries, making it the largest service event in the world.  Since 1988 this program has been empowering youth to get involved in their communities and make a real change. 
            As YES Abroad students we are asked to participate in some way and make a change in our community.  Initially, I had thought about planning a trash cleanup in one of the local parks near my house but the last month of exchange is always crazy busy, so I decided to tell you all about my volunteering experience at Shishur Sevay, a local girls orphanage in my city.  
            Shishur Sevay was founded some 12 years ago by an American doctor, Michelle Harrison.  She had adopted a young girl from Kolkata, hence the connection to the city.  When they came back to visit and discover her heritage, Michelle found a corrupt foster care system.  This was her inspiration for creating Shishur Sevay, and her work has surely paid off.  
            I have been volunteering here for a couple of months now and I am sad that my time is almost up to go home.  It was always empowering to walk into the orphanage and be greeted by one big happy family.  Whether it be art class or dance class, the girls always seemed to be enjoying life to the fullest.  It is because of this that I have spent so much time volunteering here.  Not only do I feel like I am making a real impact in the community, but I also feel at home while I am there. 
          
This is a picture of the orphanage.  
This is a photo from Michelle's birthday party.  We had a big dance party!
Here is one of the the younger girls, Archie, who loves to paint my nails.  



             Over the course of my volunteering with Shishur Sevay, I have worked on a wide range of projects.  I first started by helping out in the computer classes that takes place on Saturday.  The girls were learning how to write proper letters and format Excel sheets.  On occasion, Michelle would have small projects around the orphanage like painting a door or other miscellaneous tasks.  It was fun to sit down with the rest of the staff and do some practical problem solving.  Recently, I have been organizing some of their Excel files that store stuff like donor information and what not.  I hope to continue my work there, unfortunately however, my time is almost up and I will have to head home.
             I am forever grateful for the opportunity to volunteer in such a lovely environment and I cannot wait to return to India and visit Shishur Sevay.  Thank you Michelle for making this all possible, I will surely miss the Shishur Sevay family.   
In honor of the Global Youth Service Day, I challenge all of you out there reading this blog to go get involved in your community and make a change, however small it may be!

-Dane

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