With three full months away from campus and coursework, Bruins will spread across the globe this summer, creating their own stories of adventure and travel.
Kevin Schmidt, a graduating Bruin, recently bought a one-way ticket to Africa ““ he doesn’t know when he’ll be back.
“My parents are a little nervous, but they’ve been really supportive,” the fourth-year sociology student said of his decision to volunteer in Zanzibar and Tanzania with One Heart Source, a nonprofit whose UCLA branch launched almost four years ago.
During the past two summers, Schmidt worked with One Heart Source to teach Tanzanians about AIDS and care for children in the organization’s recently created orphanage.
This year, he will return in a leadership role, acting as a coordinator in Zanzibar. Schmidt will create schedules for teaching in schools and ask locals about health topics they would like to see covered in seminars.
“I picked up some Swahili in the last couple summers, and I took it at school this year,” Schmidt said, addressing the language barrier in Africa. “After this trip, I should be pretty much fluent.”
Yet it is unclear when Schmidt’s trip will come to a close. He arrives in June and estimates he will stay for over six months.
After coordinating programs in Zanzibar, he will venture to Tanzania, where he will work with the African college students he has befriended since his first visit. The students translate for One Heart Source volunteers, and Schmidt keeps in touch with them via Facebook.
Schmidt said he particularly remembers one night when the volunteers sat in the orphanage, kids perched on their laps, with Tanzanian volunteers peppered around the room.
“We were all just sitting together and singing along to Bob Marley songs,” Schmidt said with a laugh. “It was so cool to see this complete blend of cultures; everybody was so comfortable with each other.”
This summer, Schmidt will live in an African family’s hut with another American volunteer. He’ll eat African staples like rice, beans, cabbage and flatbread, all of which he said he enjoys. He will also help tend local mango and papaya crops.
Though he’s missed out on a slew of events at home, like reuniting with high school friends, Schmidt said the rare opportunity to experience a simpler lifestyle keeps him going back to Africa. He said his conversations with Africans led him to realize every human, whether in a hut or a mansion, has a similar life goal.
“When you talk to people in Africa you realize that even though their lives are different, everyone is still a person looking for love and happiness,” Schmidt said. “We’re all ultimately looking for the same thing.”
While in Paris this summer, Alison Azera plans to visit the house she grew up in.
The first-year business economics student, whose father is French, lived in Paris for eight years and Belgium for three before moving to Southern California in sixth grade.
This summer, Azera will intern for McCann Erickson, an international advertising agency, working 35-hour weeks as an assistant with the agency’s L’OrÃ©al account.
“I’ll be helping to develop an international campaign for L’OrÃ©al,” Azera, who is fluent in French, said of her duties. “Hopefully I’ll come back with a lot of shampoo samples.”
Azera, however, will not be working on Bastille Day, which falls near the middle of her time in her native country. She will celebrate the holiday in the South with her grandparents. Fireworks on the beach will cap off Azera’s time in what she calls her “favorite part” of France.
Warm, humid weather and baguettes fresher than any American rendition rank highly on Azera’s list of French favorites. Since she’ll be living in an apartment alone, she plans to reconnect with childhood pals during her stay.
Though she is confident with speaking French, Azera said she hopes to hone her writing skills in the office. She will use the internship to sample a career in the advertising field.
Azera’s only qualm about advertising for L’OrÃ©al?
“I use Pantene hair products,” she said with a smile.