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Finding New Motivation

Eliza Dawson is an American University Student who volunteered with us for seven weeks in Port au Prince, Haiti, in the summer of 2011. We asked her to talk about how her experiences in Haiti helped her.

Last spring I had taken a semester off of college and was living at home with my parents when I realized I had a fantastic opportunity to give back. I had always wanted to volunteer in a third-world country and after doing research it seemed Haiti and IDV were the best options. And so began the most influential trip I have ever taken!

My 7-weeks in Haiti were the most impacting, inspiring, and memorable of my life. I did not expect to meet such amazing people, who inspired and taught me so much. I had seen pictures of the damage but experiencing and seeing the damage first-hand was devastating. The Haitian people were so welcoming and the warmth I felt from the children I worked with in the orphanage where I was placed was amazing!

Though I have many amazing memories from my time in Haiti, the most memorable was on one of my last days in Haiti. I had just arrived at Foyer d'Orelph Orphanage for a day of work when Babi, a four-year old living at the orphanage, saw me arrive and screamed my name. I walked over to the entrance and Babi started off in a mad dash running toward me shouting my name, jumped into my arms and gave me a kiss on the cheek! Babi then made a game out of it and all the other kids soon joined in!

I know this memory seems small compared to everything I had seen and done in Haiti, however, to me it wraps up my time at the orphanage. The kids had the biggest effect on my life. They have been through so much at such a young age, but they are all full of joy, laughter and love; to me nothing is better.

My time I spent in Haiti volunteering with IDV has definitely changed me. I look outside myself and try not to take so many things for granted now. But more importantly, prior to going to Haiti I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and had no motivation to do well in school. My grades were bad and my outlook on life was dull and boring.

But upon returning home from Haiti, I knew school is where I needed to be. I transferred Universities and started to care about school again. I had a focus and motivation that I have never had before. I do not know what career I will have, but I do know it will be one where I get the opportunity to give back at every chance I get. Even though I do not have my whole life planned out, my time spent at

IDV helped me get my life back track. I would absolutely volunteer with IDV again in a heartbeat!

After returning from Haiti, Eliza returned to University studying Finance and International Business. She plans to graduate in the Spring of 2014. This summer she will be interning in London with Home Sun, Inc.