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Daniels teaches children in Africa to 'dream up'
July 31, 2014
When she’s not teaching, volunteering at community gardens or working at a lion rehabilitation center, Stephens sophomore Michaela Daniels is spending her time this summer in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, teaching young people to “dream up.”
Daniels is wrapping up at 12-week internship program through African Impact, a 10-year-old family-run organization that promotes volunteerism. While in Africa, she spent time teaching fourth graders, doing errands for senior citizens and also working at a lion rehabilitation center.
Daniels—a marketing major who plays soccer and softball and is active in Student Government Association, Residential Life and Sigma Sigma Sigma—started the program May 12, about a month after Stephens launched its “dream up” campaign. Daniels took the brand to heart and to Zimbabwe with her.
“I have been preaching the ‘dream up’ concept since I arrived,” Daniels said via email. “I told” some of the older children that “where I go to school, we strive to better ourselves through experiences and education. We use our strengths to follow our dreams. I asked them if they could do anything in the entire world, what would they do.”
One young man said he wanted to be an artist, so Daniels encouraged him to sell paintings and drawings to volunteers. In the first week, he and another boy sold $210 worth of artwork. Daniels helped them figure out how much they needed to purchase materials and encouraged them both to invest the remaining money wisely. Both decided to put their earnings toward fees to attend schools.
Daniels then contacted her high school, which agreed to donate supplies. She also arranged for sponsors to pay for a trip to a city in Zimbabwe to help them get passports.
“They may not use them in the next 10 years, but knowing the possibility is there if they have the chance to get out, that’s good enough for me.”
Daniels credits Stephens for preparing her for the overseas experience.
“I have learned responsibility,” she said. “I felt a sense of responsibility, and Stephens gave me the tools to follow it. Leadership: I quickly became a team leader here. I have organized and helped start many projects,” including a classroom improvement campaign and a senior citizen project.
Daniels said she’d gone to Africa with “big visions” to make positive impacts on poverty, health concerns and other problems there. Although she realizes she couldn’t turn things around on her own in three months, “you can help shape it for a little better tomorrow. I thought I would change lives, but the life that’s been changed has been my own.”