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Emma Van Winkle: Alumni
In June of 2014, Emma Van Winkle stepped on a plane and flew to Africa after receiving an invitation to serve as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Swaziland. There, Emma lives in a remote rural community with a Swazi host family and serves as a Youth Development Volunteer.
Her work involves teaching a program called Grassroots Soccer at the local primary school. Through games the students learn about HIV/AIDS: how it affects the body and is transmitted, what behaviors increase the risk of contracting the disease, and what they can do to protect themselves. Emma reports that the students love the lessons and they learn a lot from interactive play. She has also worked to establish libraries at both the local primary school and high school. She assisted in arranging a shipment of over 1,000 books for each school and trained the teachers on how to organize and run a library. Since the libraries have been in place, English scores have already improved!
For Emma, the best part of being a volunteer is the cultural exchange. She says,
I am learning how to speak SiSwati, about traditional Swazi culture (ceremonies, dress, etc), and about what it means to be Swazi. I also tell my Swazi family and friends about American culture. It teaches both sides to see the world differently, and I am grateful for it!