Carpe Diem Education – Personal growth

Sharing Volunteer Ian’s Personal Journey of Growth and leaving a Legacy in Africa with Carpe Diem Education and Dreamcatcher

Ian Sulcer and school kidsMore than simply a study-abroad experience, Carpe Diem Education’s programs offer multi-faceted learning opportunities at the global level. Carpe Diem safely challenges each student and inspires growth and transformation through service learning, adventure travel, community engagement and authentic cultural exchange.  Carpe Diem’s three-month programs are offered in the Fall and Spring semesters with our year-long Latitudes’ Program designed to expand upon the group travel experience through a customized focused volunteer placement. Semester and Latitudes students are able to obtain transferable college credit through our unique relationship with Portland State University.

Ian Sulcer participated in Carpe Diem’s Latitudes Program in 2012-2013, first going to Central America on a group semester, and then traveled to South Africa to work with the Dreamcatcher Foundation for three months during his second semester focused volunteer placement.  Students in our Latitudes Program have the unique opportunity to gain valuable experiences as they volunteer their time and focus on personal goals through immersion at local NGOs, non-profits, or another organizations during the second semester. Students are able to engage with a local community and acquire practical skills, all while having fun, learning more about themselves, and honing in on what is that they want to do in the future.

Latitudes students work one-on-one with the Latitudes director to personalize a second semester volunteer placement in a region of the world that interests them and supports what it is they are passionate about. Ian had expressed interest in honing in on his interests of working with children who were at risk of dropping out of school, getting into drug use, or having behavioral and disciplinary issues.  He wanted to one day go into the field of wilderness therapy and make a career out of helping young people struggling with these kinds of problems.  This is how we came upon Dreamcatcher and customized a program in which Ian could implement a wilderness therapy model with the at-risk youth.  Ian immersed himself fully in the experience and gave everything he could to the kids he was working with.  In the end he reflected upon his experience in a blog entry:

Ian Sulcer and Dreamcatcher kids“At the start of my journey I felt as though I had too much responsibility. I thought I needed some direction, or else I would go through the whole three months without anything of merit to show on the other side. However once I was able to find my bearings, so to speak, and dedicate myself to making something happen, I was able to take charge of my own experience and create something beautiful. I know that I made the right choice in placement and, go figure, it wasn’t for the reasons that had expected. Carpe Diem challenges all of its students to identify things that they want to work on, and pushes us to leave our comfort zones so that we might experience the possibilities of what lie beyond. Something that I really struggle with back in real life is allowing my life, and my motivation, to be dictated by others. The way that the Dreamcatcher Foundation operates, I have been forced for these months to take control of the work that I do, to think about what kind of experience I want to want to have, and to make it happen. As it turns out, I am getting exactly what I needed out of this experience in order to learn and to grow into the kind of man that I want to be in a way that was wholly unexpected and completely perfect. You can call it coincidence or you can call it a divine plan, personally I choose to believe that life has a kind of poetic nature. Nothing exciting ever happens the way you plan it to, and right where I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Important Postscript & Update from Dreamcatcher

Ian’s time with us has resulted in a profound transformation in one of the young boys Ian mentored (besides being sorely missed by all the youth and children). Warren is now the proud newly elected class captain; his grades have improved; he has been nominated the best cricket player in his team and his teachers report a significant improvement in attitude, demeanour and is very neat in terms of dress. (new clothes donated by Dutch volunteers Klaas and Annemiek). Well done Ian. Your legacy lives on!