America's Unofficial Ambassadors

We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.

Osteoarthritis Can’t Stop this 65 Year Old Retiree from Volunteering!

Cross Cultural Solution’s (CCS)volunteer, Pattye Snyder is a nature photographer and has traveled all over the world. On one of her trips, she fell in love with Tanzania and decided to celebrate her 65th birthday by giving back to the country.

Here’s her story:

Since I’ve retired I’ve been to 33 different countries. I have osteoarthritis, pretty badly. I have had five surgeries so far, little ones to replace things like…my hip (she laughs). I like to prove to people that just because you have a diagnosis, doesn’t mean you have to sit around and feel sorry for yourself.

The people in Tanzania spoke very little English, mainly Swahili. Somewhere between my broken Swahili and their English we were able to communicate—the language of eyes and smiles overcomes any language barrier. If you really care, you can get the message across whether you speak the language or not.

Woman and child in Tanzania

Neighbors Come to Welcome Volunteers

I learned how to make Batik prints, and I became very good, despite all my artificial joints, at dancing in the African style. One of the volunteers was leaving and she wanted to give them cookies, but the kids aren’t used to it. So they got a little hyper, and not in a good way, so we wanted to use their energy productively. I sang a song and then made everyone go out into the yard. We were all singing and dancing together for about an hour. We were singing in Swahili and having fun, but it also served its purpose and burned that sugar through them. I started out as Mama Pattye, but then they nicknamed me Mama P, so I took it as a compliment.

It’s the most incredibly hard thing I’ve ever done in my life and the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done in my life. I was able to make a difference in the kids’ lives, and they in turn made a major difference in my life.

Learn more about Cross Cultural Solutions Volunteer Programs.

America’s Unofficial Ambassadors has created the Mosaic Scholarship for volunteers who choose to work in a Muslim-majority country. The scholarship helps pay for program fees and travel costs. Find out more: AUA Mosaic Scholarship.

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This entry was posted on April 20, 2011 by in Volunteer Voices and tagged , , , , , .
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