Outside the routine

Senior travels to Africa to volunteer


Photo by Photo used with permission of Maya Wiley

Maya Wiley, senior, smiles with one of the kids from Africa, after playing soccer. Wiley not only played with the kids, but she also helped improve their schools.

This summer, Maya Wiley, senior, decided she needed a change from the routine of her life. After all, “we do the same things all the time,” Wiley said, “so I wanted to do something crazy and outside the box”. So, she escaped her box. She went to Africa.

Wiley spent three weeks this summer volunteering in Tanzania teaching fifth grade and helping fix up school classrooms through a program called Global Leadership, where she knew nobody. 

“I actually kind of liked it better because I feel like it helped me get to know the people I was with more,” Wiley said. “It also helped me totally experience everything as new.”

Wiley truly had no shortage of new experiences during her time in Africa, no matter what she did.

“Being with the kids and seeing the culture [were the best parts]. The people there are just so kind and happy,” Wiley said. “It’s crazy, because you know, they have nothing compared to us and they’re just so happy all the time. The kids are just so fun to play with. All the little kids would walk around, which I thought was so different from [here], since parents are with us all the time. And they would walk us home from school every day. I was like, ‘this should be the other way around’, but they loved it.”

Not only were the kids’ daily lives different, but the way they lived and what their homes were like was a major change for Wiley. 

“The shacks where they live don’t really have rooms or anything, and they don’t usually have electricity. Even washing my clothes in a washing machine when I got back was weird because we would hand wash them” Wiley said. “Their daily life was completely different than what we do here.”

Wiley was able to see how they lived their lives every day, while also being able to see the unique things about the country.

“I went to a coffee farm which was really cool because it’s huge. They grow everything there because the climate is perfect. We did a safari and had a bunch of different speakers. They talked to us about HIV, which is a huge problem there and FCM female genital mutilation, which was sad,” Wiley said.

Wiley’s trip to Africa truly was meant to help others because she “always wanted to do Peace Corps after college” and thought this trip  was a “good intro into it”.

“I felt bad for them. I tried my best, but it’s kind of hard because they have so much less than us. I also just felt privileged that I could even be there,” Wiley said. “It made me want to help more, but I couldn’t help everyone.”

Despite Wiley’s limitations, she was able to help as many people as possible, and she said that she wanted to stay there to help even more people.

“This trip was a lot of money, which is why I can’t do it next summer. I’m definitely studying abroad with Peace Corps after college,” Wiley said. “I’m thinking about going into the medical field to do something like Doctors Without Borders, or nursing, or something like that.”