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.
By Alison Muscato
Today, on International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2014, AUA wants to thank all past volunteers for their service and dedication to promoting peace and tolerance between the US and the Muslim World. Your service has had a significant and meaningful impact on the communities in which you volunteered. Many people have benefited from and will continue to benefit from the time you spent teaching, playing, researching, writing, training, serving and caring.
We not only celebrate the service of past volunteers, but we look forward to the ways in which future volunteers will continue to benefit communities in the Muslim World and take their stories home with them. Unofficial ambassadors have the opportunity to serve at the grassroots level in areas of key human development needs in Indonesia, Morocco, Tajikistan or Zanzibar. They serve in fields ranging from education and women’s empowerment to youth leadership and environmental conservation. As interns and citizen diplomats, they form the type of people-to-people partnerships that are the future of international relations.
One of our internship placements in Tajikistan is IRODA (Parents of Children with Autism Initiative). 2014 Volunteers Okxana Cordova-Hoyos and Britta Nippert, students at The College of New Jersey, spent last summer creating IRODA’s website, researching grant opportunities, and playing with the children at the center. The website gives IRODA an online presence, which leaders at the center identified as a key step in moving forward.
Unofficial ambassadors serve their placement sites with their time, skills, cheerful attitudes, and commitment to service. In return, volunteers gain a sense of purpose, valuable experience and unforgettable lessons. Research from the Corporation for National and Community Service shows that volunteering provides individual health benefits as well as social benefits. Those individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression than those who do not volunteer. Individuals who volunteer have a strong sense of purpose and live longer and healthier lives.
If you are interested in applying to one of these programs, apply by December 20, 2014 to receive a discounted program fee.