Two CYAers Describe Their Volunteer Experiences: Veda Chandwani and Sophia Musiak
As the fall 2019 semester recently ended, many students have been reflecting on their volunteer experiences in Athens. With the help of CYA’s Executive Director of Student Affairs, Nadia Meliniotis, CYAers had the chance to volunteer in many different fields, enriching their study abroad experience through engaging in important charitable work. Two CYA students, Veda Chandwani and Sophia Musiak, describe their eye-opening experiences working for medical and environmental causes to CYA.
Veda volunteered with Medical Volunteers International (MVI). MVI provides necessary healthcare to refugees, including medicine and access to doctors. As Veda noted, “it’s extremely important that refugees are able to get this help, as many cross the border without the medications they need” for chronic conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Veda volunteered at MVI’s clinic called STEPs, in triage, “where [patients] stand in a cure to see a doctor.” Veda assisted doctors and staff by translating Hindi and Urdu to English, and back. She also distributed medicine to those in need, and helped decide who needed medical attention beyond that which the clinic could provide.
This experience was extremely important for Veda, a pre-med student at Siena College. She remarked, “volunteering while I studied abroad in Greece has opened me up to the rest of the country and the variety of people that live here… volunteering with MVI has made me more aware of the world. I hope I will be able to come back later in life, once I have my M.D., and be a visiting doctor working with MVI.”
Sophia worked with ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Glyfada, a beach-side southern suburb of Athens. ARCHELON, as Sophia stated, “works on conserving the sea turtle’s habitats, [educating] the public about [sea turtles], and provides medical and rehabilitation services [to the turtles].” As the negative human impact on turtles and their habitats is evident, ARCHELON does incredibly important work in helping these sensitive animals thrive in Greece. Sophia often interacted with turtles directly during her time at ARCHELON, by feeding injured sea turtles and cleaning their tanks.
Through her volunteering experience at ARCHELON, Sophia met many people in the environmental and conservation fields from Greece and Europe. She also had the chance to see parts of Athens that are very different than the urban city center, an aspect of her time volunteering that she considered very special. Having the opportunity “to give back to the community while doing something [she is] passionate about” enhanced Sophia’s study abroad experience, one that she “would do all over again!”
Quotes from Veda Chandwani and Sophia Musiak, fall 2019
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