This summer, Melissa Keehn be helping to facilitate a Youth Leadership Team, MUNHOPE, who will be volunteering in Kenya for four weeks starting at the end of July. This will be Melissa’s third project with YCI and her second in a staff capacity. Melissa shared with us how she got involved with YCI and why she keeps coming back.
What does your job with YCI involve? As a program officer, I’ll be helping to monitor and evaluate volunteers, implement training for volunteers and provide monitoring and evaluation for YCI’s program in Kenya.
How did you get involved with YCI? In the summer of 2008, I volunteered with YCI in Debre Sina, Ethiopia. As volunteers, we taught English lessons to students and community professionals, delivered various skill-building workshops and worked on multiple projects with local youth. During the winter of 2009, I also led a group of YCI volunteers in Costa Rica.
Most memorable YCI moment: Driving across the Ethiopian landscape for the very first time and arriving at our project destination. The mountains were breathtaking, you could see for miles. I’ll never forget that moment.
What motivates you? The following quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Which youth issue most concerns you? Education. I met many youth in Ethiopia who lived in the street and did not attend school. We had many female students miss classes because of household commitments. The millions of youth around the world who lack access to primary and secondary education. This concerns me.
What gives you optimism? Meeting people who are passionate about their work. Meeting people who take the road less travelled and achieve great things. Meeting people who are tolerant and accepting of others.
What’s ahead? I am volunteering in Haiti this November. I also plan on teaching this year. Next year I’m thinking about getting my Masters in International Development or International Relations. I want a career that combines my passion for education with my interest in international development.
What else do you do? I love to be creative. I love to paint with oils and acrylics. I just got into photography. I play acoustic guitar as well. I love going to coffee shops with my friends. I like to go running and attempting yoga.