Mariana Gama, a recent graduate of Vandegrift High School, is returning to Colombia to do her annual summer volunteer work.
Gama has been doing volunteer work since an early age. In high school, she participated in National Honor Society, a club dedicated to instilling the values of service and leaderships in students. At home, her family organizes clothing drives to provide people on the streets and in orphanages with these basic necessities. However, most of her volunteer work is through her own personal interest.
“I’ve been volunteering since I could talk and walk. This is the first year I’ll be doing it individually, with my friend and not with my family,” Gama said.
She left in mid June for the city of Pereira.
Gama’s volunteer experience has primarily dealt with children. She will continue her work with them in an orphanage in Pereira. Her duties will include playing with children, cooking, cleaning and doing basic housework. However, these responsibilities don’t faze Gama, who has taken on big roles in the past.
“Two years ago, I was in Costa Rica, for Global Leadership Adventures. We volunteered at a school and hung out with kids. I loved the experience so last year I did the same program in Ghana where I got to teach at an elementary school. For the first half of the day, we’d help build up bricks for classrooms, and for the second half, we’d teach in them.”
Global Leadership Adventures is an organization that offers young adults the opportunity to study abroad, complete missions trips and dedicate their time to helping those across the globe. Various programs such as that one give Gama an outlet for her passion for service.
“People say there’s no such thing as a selfless act, and volunteering is something I truly enjoy doing. I love being with kids and helping them,” Gama said.
In the fall, Gama will be attending Texas A&M University. She plans to major in international studies and continue her work abroad. Through her international studies program, she hopes to explore opportunities to travel and aid those in other countries.