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SENEGAL TREK—CLEMSON UNIVERSITY

The impact of the Circle of Sisterhood is felt far and wide. This summer was a big year for the Foundation, as we built three more schools, helping to bring education to women and girls around the world. We will continue to celebrate and share the stories of the amazing Panhellenic women who served on our Trek teams, and this week the story belongs to Clemson.

On the morning of June 6, 2015, thanks to the support of the Clemson University Panhellenic community, family and friends, a group of ten sorority women embarked on a twenty-eight hour trip to Senegal, Africa.

Elizabeth Shevlin

Elizabeth Shevlin

There are not enough words to describe everything I experienced and witnessed while living and working alongside the community in the village of Mbelbouck. As a future elementary school teacher, I have always supported Circle of Sisterhood’s mission of expanding education to women and girls across the world. However, to see this mission come to life was an experience I will never forget. From dancing to the drums to laughing with the children to smiling so much my face hurt, Africa filled my heart with pure joy and love. I was inspired each and every day by the people of the village, especially the women that were giving their blood, sweat, and tears to provide their children with the best life possible.

Rachel Abernathy

Rachel Abernathy

My time in Senegal was absolutely indescribable. I am passionate about breaking the cycle of poverty through education, but after this trip it is more than a passion. The families in our village were the most welcoming, loving, and joyful bunch of people I have ever been surrounded by. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was floored that the village would soon have an elementary school. Each day at the work site, women and children would come from the village and do whatever they could to help jump start construction. It was evident how passionate they felt about education.

Elizabeth hard at work!

Elizabeth hard at work!

These people were so empowered that by the time we left, the school was twenty-eight days ahead of schedule! I can only imagine how much more the community will be able to accomplish in the future. It may sound cliché, but our week spent in Africa was truly life-changing. I am thankful for the Circle of Sisterhood for enabling us to show the world what a few sorority women can do. A piece of my heart will always be somewhere in a modest cinder block hut in the African desert.

Rachel building community!

Rachel building community!

Before my arrival to Senegal, I thought I would be saddened by the poverty. I was in a mind trap that we would be “saving” the children in the village. But later on I learned the opposite. This village was flooded with happiness and love. We were not saving this village; we were increasing their joy and giving them a reason to dance even more. I was impacted in so many ways through this trek, and I will never forget it.

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This post is brought to you by Elizabeth Shevlin and Rachel Abernathy. Elizabeth is the president of the Delta Phi chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta at Clemson and is a senior majoring in elementary education with a minor in Spanish. Originally from Johns Creek, Georgia, she hopes to return to the Atlanta area to teach following graduation. Rachel is a proud member of Zeta Tau Alpha. She is a senior from Powder Springs, GA majoring in communication studies and aspires to work in the nonprofit industry. Have your own Circle of Sisterhood story to share? Contact blog@circleofsisterhood.org!

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