Staying close to home is not the plan for graduating senior Abby Reed. Following graduation, she will be taking a leap around the world as she follows her heart and does what truly matters most to her - helping others. Abby was recently accepted into the Peace Corps, a dream she never expected to actually come true.
A major portion of Abby’s four years at Heidelberg has been dedicated to service on campus, in her community and internationally. Just this year, she has dedicated over 300 hours of her time to volunteering and service through Student Alumni Association, SLAMH (Students Lead Awareness for Mental Health,) Zeta Theta Psi and personally through internships. Throughout these four years, many philanthropic opportunities and service hours have helped her uncover a desire to join the Peace Corps.
Abby’s internships with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in Tiffin and Parkvue Community Nursing Homes in Sandusky gave her the opportunity to spend time working with children and with people from all walks of life and different cognitive abilities. It’s important to her to help enhance or improve the lives of others when those opportunities arise.
Heidelberg has given Abby a few chances to participate in international service. Her first experience was during her sophomore year when she taught English during an Alternative Break trip to Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic through the organization Outreach360. It was Abby’s first experience teaching children, which really sparked her desire to teach in the Peace Corps. “Education is really the building block to everything in life. If children are educated the possibilities are endless for them,” says Abby.
Abby is currently the leader of an Alternative Break Trip that will be going to Puerto Rico this month. Along with six other students and two faculty members, she will be assisting in disaster recovery with the United Church of Christ and Iglesias Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico. It was a trip that people had expressed interest in, but that didn’t have a leader. Abby wanted others to be able to have the experience to go, so she decided to take on the challenge of leading the trip! “It’s considered an ‘international trip,’ but it’s not really. Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, and I think sometimes people forget that,” Abby explains. She is most interested in delving into the Puerto Rican culture and learning about their views on being a part of America and what it means to them.
Heidelberg has enhanced Abby’s passion for helping others and working internationally, and she is so excited to continue doing both of these things together. Joining the Peace Corps has always been a dream of Abby’s, so she decided to just apply and see what happened. “It’s like dreaming of applying to an Ivy League School. I never expected to actually get in … but it happened!”
She applied without selecting a specific location, hoping to get in wherever she could. She didn’t want to hope for a specific placement, because she preferred to trust the process to place her where she is supposed to be. It never crossed her mind that she may be sent somewhere like Cambodia. She said, “I’ve been a lot of places, but never to Asia,” she says.
Details of her specific placement will remain unknown to her until she completes an extensive three-month training upon her arrival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. She will go through health and safety training, language training, and a process similar to student teaching. It will only be days before she moves that she will find out where she is going. This makes Abby nervous, because she likes certainty. She is excited, though, to be forced out of her comfort zone and to go with the flow.
In addition to teaching, she will work on a secondary project of her choice. While the exact project will be dependent on her specific placement and the community’s needs, she has a few ideas in mind. Abby wants to incorporate her passion for empowering young girls. “Acknowledging that girls are capable of doing things is a lot more prevalent in the United States and other parts of the world than in Cambodia. I want them to know that they are capable of anything,” Abby says. She is also interested in sharing her love for athletics with the children and introducing new sports into their lives.
As she finishes up her psychology and women & gender studies degrees at Heidelberg, Abby begins to prepare for her departure in July to her new home for 27 months. “I am still in shock that I was accepted into the program,” Abby admits. “This has been a dream of mine for years now and I’m so excited to get the chance to learn more about South Asian culture and teach young minds!”
Written by Kaylea Bowers, '19