Alumni Spotlight: Greta Schacht
We last interviewed to Greta Schacht, Class of 2014, when she organized a viewing of the documentary “Girl Rising” at Willow last May. Inspired by the film, she decided to take time off before college in order to travel, learn about global issues, figure out how she could help, and spread awareness so others can help too! Greta spent this past fall in Tanzania, where she worked at the New Hope School in Arusha. Now, Greta is in Nepal!
“I traveled to Tanzania during the fall of last year, and it was my favorite experience in life thus far!” Greta said of the experience. “I blindly signed up for a program that I knew practically nothing about, and two weeks later I was on a plane traveling to the other side of the world to a place I’d learn to call home for the next three months.”
What was a typical day like for you in Tanzania?
A typical day for me consisted of waking up at 7am, eating a breakfast of fresh mango, banana, and pineapple picked right outside of my door, and then taking a motorcycle about an hour away to a small village where my school was located. Each day, the lessons differed, but some sort of game or competition was always a part of learning. I quickly found that these games were the best ways to keep my easily distracted five, six, and seven year olds engaged and excited to learn.
What did you learn from your experience there?
I learned so much from this experience…about myself and the importance of courage, deciding that I didn’t need to follow the path of all of my peers by heading straight to university. I learned lessons of perseverance, gratitude, and most importantly, I deepened my understanding of generosity. I’ve never seen people with so little (in the aspect of tangible things), always have so much to give, both tangibly and intangibly. The most incredible teacher of this lesson of generosity is a man named Juma Shaban, the founder of the school and orphanage that I worked at.
Juma started taking in children when his childhood friend passed away, leaving three children orphaned and homeless. From there, he began expanding his family. The stories of each of the children vary. Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons for children being orphaned is HIV/AIDs. Other children living with Juma do still have parents and homes of their own, but they live with Juma to ensure that they are fed and taken care of, as many families are far below the poverty line.
What’s one piece of advice you would pass on from this experience?
It would be the hard-learned lesson that it’s okay to do things differently and choose the road less traveled. Great things happen when you take the leap of faith!