Angie Hong ‘12 started helping her community in middle school while participating in the Diversity Club. During her time in the Diversity Club, Angie worked with local homeless shelters. Her social justice involvement expanded while she was in high school as a member of the Rotary - Interact Program that partnered with the local Rotary Clubs. In addition to her involvement with Interact, Angie lobbied with the organization The Resolve in an effort to disarm the rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army and the recovery of Northen Uganda. The funds that Angie raised helped former soldiers reintegrate into their communities and helped with the longest running war in Africa through the organization, Invisible Children. Because of her involvement with lobbying for Invisible Children, Angie’s interest in Africa grew into something much larger and would impact her future more than she expected.
Her involvement in Invisible Children caused her to look at volunteering opportunities in Africa before her summer between high school and college. “I was 17 years old and about to graduate when I started googling volunteering opportunities in Africa, specifically Uganda.” Angie had become familiar with Uganda and had previously worked with children on a local scale, which naturally led to her applying to organizations that benefit youth. Her search led to the volunteering database, Kids Worldwide where people can apply to a range of organizations for numerous positions. Angie applied with a friend and was selected to help by Melissa, a volunteer coordinator and founder of the organization Better Understanding of Life in Africa (BULA). Angie signed to volunteer for three months with her friend, missing her high school graduation to help orphaned and vulnerable youth.
While volunteering for three months in Uganda, Angie worked with 24 children at BULA. “The first time I went to Uganda, I felt guilty when seeing the children get sad and upset when a volunteer would leave the organization to go home. I would be there to comfort them and wonder if I was doing more harm than good. The children see an influential person come into the organization, get to know them, then leave [a few months later].” Angie quickly made a promise to herself and the 24 children that she would return. In 2013, six years later, Angie returned to Uganda to continue her work with Melissa at BULA. Angie was able to fulfill her promise to the 24 children and see how well they were doing after years of schooling thanks to BULA’s assistance in funding school programs. Additionally, Angie worked with Melissa on the Home at Last-Angie’s fund initiative where they reunited each child with any remaining family ties to keep the children from staying in an institution. “It was great going back to see them change from 8-9 year olds into teenagers and some as adults.” Throughout the years, Angie has maintained contact with the children through Facebook, has helped them with college questions, has heard about their everyday life activities, and learned how they are adjusting and enjoying being resettled with their family members. “They are happier now with their families, but it is a cultural shock from being around volunteers with all of the gadgets they brought, to going to their family that may not have all of those amenities”.
It was during this trip that Angie started planning for her next journey of making a positive impact in those around her through the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps accepted Angie into their Health Promotions program in Nicaragua for the next two and a half years starting in March 2014. She will be assisting in educating the public about HIV and AIDs, working with children and their mothers, and with the community on proper hygiene practices. “I am excited to immerse myself in the culture, gain an increased sense of community and get to know other Peace Corps members, volunteers and the community I will be working with”. Her position with the Peace Corps relates back to not only her experience in Uganda but her time at Towson University as a student heavily involved with co-curricular activities. During college, Angie was a member of Leadershape, as a senator, the Director of Legislature and the Vice President with SGA, the President of the Invisible Children group and served on the University System of Maryland Student Council. Her degree in philosophy has helped with her ability to see and understand different perspectives in every situation while her vast involvement with extracurricular activities helped prepare her increase program participation and with person-to-person interaction. After graduating, Angie became a Coordinator for Civic Engagement at Towson University. As Coordinator for Civic Engagement, Angie was able to engage the public to take a proactive stance on health issues which will directly relate to her position in Nicaragua.
Once Angie completes her time with the Peace Corps, she hopes to continue her work with international justice. “I care about kids and hope that my two and a half years with the Peace Corps will help me decide what to do next. As long as I am doing something to help others, I know I am moving in the right direction to my goal. Towson has given me so much. A lot of people say that, and I mean it. If you stay connected with TU it will give back to you. It has shaped me to be a good citizen and has made me a better person. Stay in touch with the piece of your identity, in this case TU, because it has given you so much and will help others become successful in the future.”
To help reintegrate former child soldiers into their communities, please visit: http://invisiblechildren.com/
To learn more about BULA or to donate, please visit: http://www.bulainc.org/index2.html
To learn more about the Peace Corps, please visit: http://www.peacecorps.gov/