The one where I kindly ask you to help me make my dreams of volunteering in Africa a reality. Please.

Dearest Readers,

Jambo! (Swahili for Hello!) As you may remember, I have deemed this year The Year of Caryn and I am doing everything I can to follow through with the goals I set for myself.  I can accomplish goals #3,4 & 6 but need your help to make my dreams come true. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to volunteer somewhere in Africa. I have always felt that it was a calling of mine to give back, to make a difference, to do something bigger than myself, to volunteer abroad. While I always envisioned myself volunteering somewhere in Africa, I didn’t think it was a dream that I could actually make into a reality. It wasn’t until recent life changes that I began to do some serious soul-searching. I realized that even though there will always be excuses and doubters, there is no better time than now to listen to and follow my heart.

Thanks to Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS), I am able to make my volunteering dream come true this coming September. CCS is a 501(c)3 non-profit international volunteer organization with no religious or political affiliations, whose mission is to operate volunteer programs around the world in partnership with sustainable community initiatives, bringing people together to work side-by-side while sharing perspectives and fostering cultural understanding.

I have selected CCS’s program in Kilimanjaro- Tanzania where I will teach children for four (4) weeks. Stationed near the town of Moshi, I’ll be joined by 25 other volunteers. I will be living in shared rooms with bunk beds at the CCS provided home-base where hot water and electricity will be very sparse. We will have to go to Internet cafes in town to get Internet (technology detox, yes!).

Despite the fact that many people do not have a lot of belongings and live in poverty, I’ve heard they are some of the happiest and most grateful people you will ever meet. My plan, while I’m there, is to get off the tourist path, immerse myself into the culture, connect with the people, and of course, to help educate and make a difference. I am now attempting to teach myself Swahili so that I am better prepared for this experience. I want to fully embrace this opportunity. I know this will be a very difficult, eye-opening experience, and one of the biggest life challenges I will ever face.

You are probably asking yourself, why does she have to pay to be in a volunteer program? Well, the only free program is the Peace Corp. and I honestly cannot commit to 27 months away from my family, friends & life. I am not asking for your help to go on a leisurely vacation, rather I am asking for you to sponsor me so I can mentor children and to give them the opportunity to be educated and literate. Did you know that Africa lacks quality teachers? In fact, according to the International Development Research Centre, even though literacy rates have greatly improved in Africa over the last few decades, approximately 40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25 remain illiterate. Education is important for many reasons, some of which are child health, maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and environmental sustainability.

Everyone deserves an education and this is why I need your help. I am kindly asking you to not only help me educate and improve a child’s life, to help make my dream a reality, but to also help raise awareness. You can click here to make your tax-deductible donation. Any donation is immensely appreciated. It would mean so much to me if you would consider sponsoring me and making a donation on my behalf. To do so, please click here to access my fundraising page: (My username is Carynlevy should you need it to login.) If you do not want to make an online donation, but still wish to sponsor me, please contact me for alternatives. Please note that any donation that is not submitted through the website is not tax-deductible.

You, my readers, have given me so much love and support and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I would not be here, on the path to making my dreams a reality if it weren’t for you. I can’t thank you enough for changing my life. I only hope that I can have that kind of impact on the children of Kilimanjaro.

I have decided that if I reach my goal, I will conquer a trapeze class  as suggested by the lovely Amber. Being as I am a blogger and all, I will video the experience and blog about it for all my readers and supporters to laugh at my lack of grace and skills.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, in advance, for your generosity and support.

All my love,

Caryn

Kilimanjaro-Tanzania

Volunteer Abroad Sep 22, 2012

Where in the world is Caryn going?

Where In The World is Caryn?

Cast Your Own Patronus. Smile. Choose To Be Happy

Choose Happiness

I know I’m not going out on a limb here when I say moods are contagious. It’s pretty obvious, right?  We’ve all been there. One minute you are all full of smiles when suddenly, you sense the Dementor’s presence upon you and all your joy comes to an abrupt halt, thanks to your friend, Mr. CrabbyPants. Just because he is grumpy, doesn’t mean you have to be. While a foul mood is contagious, a good mood is too. Which do you want to spread?

If moods are contagious and have a domino effect on others, can you imagine what this world be like if everyone looked on the positive side of things, smiled more often, and complained less? Look at the people around you. How many people look to be truly happy? People are always frowning, dwelling on the negative and finding something to complain about.

While it is perfectly normal to have blue moments occasionally, and I certainly do not expect you to be happy 100% of the time, constantly being a Debbie Downer, incessantly being a grouch, and endlessly complaining and scouring at people is NOT an attractive look. On anyone. When you are feeling down, you give off an unwelcoming, don’t-come-near-me vibe. When you smile, your whole body smiles. Facial expressions do not just express one’s mood, they contribute to one’s overall feeling. Smiling elevates your mood and makes you feel happier. You are constantly giving off an energy and what energy you choose to share is entirely up to you. When you choose to be happy, when you put that positive vibe into the universe, positive things happen in return.

So whatever it is that you are complaining about today, stop it. Think about what it is and why it is bothering you. Ask yourself,  is this really a serious problem? Is this a battle I really want to fight? Is this worth the stress it is causing me now? Probably not. Instead, think about what you can learn from the situation and what you can be grateful for. There is much to be happy about and thankful for in this world, so dwell on that. Find the positive in the situation. Yes, sometimes it is hard to find, but it is there. Something positive can be drawn out of every situation, even the darkest ones. Being happy doesn’t mean you are ignoring the issue. It means you are electing to see past the imperfections and make the most out of the situation at hand.

I’m a firm believer that you make your own happiness.

If you want to be happy, then do. You have the power to choose how you feel and only you are stopping yourself. You don’t need anything or anyone else to make you happy. Being happy is a conscious choice, but luckily, it is no ones choice but your own. While you cannot control what happens in life, you can control how you react to it and how you let it affect your mood. The only true control you have in life, is the control you have over yourself.

Make a habit out of smiling more often and finding the positive in situations, and it will eventually come natural to you. It is a self-fullfilling prophecy. The path will continue to become clearer, until one day, you will no longer have to think about being happy, you will just BE. As the Dalai Lama tweeted, “Through constant training we can enhance our positive attitudes and thoughts and reduce their opposing negative attitudes.”

We are always told that things will get better in the future, that we’ll be happy when we get graduate, when we get that job, when we get a boyfriend/girlfriend, we get married, when we have children, etc. We are always chasing the future. But spoiler alert – we’ll never catch up to it, that’s why it is called The Future. So stop chasing. Don’t wait for tomorrow to be happy. Be happy today.

Every day you have a choice. You can choose to look at the negative side of things or you can choose to be happy. Life is short and unpredictableDo not wait for happiness to find you or let others dictate your mood. Cast your own Patronus. Make your own happiness. Choose to be happy. Smile.

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. – Mother Teresa
 

A Little Thank You to YOU

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”  Fredrick Koeing

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time to stop by (and perhaps even comment on) this blog.  I am so thankful that I have had the chance to connect with so many wonderful people and I am truly grateful for all of you. Your support is truly amazing and inspiring to me.  There is so much negative out there, I think it is important to stop and take a moment to reflect on the positive and show our appreciation and gratitude for what we have and for those around us. My goal for this blog is to make it so that when people visit, they feel like they learned something about themselves, the world around them, find a little bit of insight, or perhaps learn a little more about me. When I started blogging, I wasn’t exactly sure of my voice or if I’d have any readers at all and I definitely didn’t know the impact that this blog would have on my life. I didn’t know that it would provide such a loving community, full of support and encouragement. This blog and all you readers have truly enriched and changed my life. So I humbly thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for stopping by, and I hope that you leave a little happier. I am honestly grateful beyond words.

Thank you!