Carmel High women grads helping worldwide

Rachel Wylie

CHS is known for many things. The school is known for nurturing young artists and providing a strong educational background for its graduates, but what you may not know is that it also provides an environment that nurtures young globally-aware women.

Conversations with CHS graduates from the past four years reveal a trend: helping others worldwide.

Years ago, 2012 CHS graduate Lindsay McMillan happened upon the website for Food for Life Vrindavan, where she learned about the poverty in India and what the organization provides.

First going to the town of Vrindavan India for two weeks at the age of 14, McMillan provided assistance at the local school and experienced the Indian culture.

“I think humanitarian work will always be in my life now,” McMillan says.

Since then the current Chapman student has raised over $16,000 and visited Vrindavan five times.

Another 2012 grad, Mai Lee found her volunteer opportunity similarly to McMillan’s when she was simply surfing the Internet and searched “gap year programs.”

This led to the discovery of Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit organization which sets up students post graduation with abroad volunteer opportunities. The current UCLA student traveled to Senegal where she lived with a foster family and volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at the local preschool.

“I think my goal primarily was to become part of a community half the globe away,” Lee says.

She accomplished this goal through learning the language, teaching arts classes and befriending the local Senegalese teens.

While Lee changed the lives of young children, 2011 CHS graduate Emily Robinson gained personal growth through her experience.

At the end of Robinson’s time at CHS, she was thrown a curve-ball when she was accepted into U.C. Berkeley spring semester. With six months to kill, Robinson decided to go to Honduras to work on a project called Niños de la Luz that allowed her to teach children English, which proved to be a challenge since she had never learned Spanish.

“In all honesty, I feel like the biggest difference from my time was not that I changed anyone’s life, but that it changed my life,” Robinson says.

Class of 2013 grad Carli Hambley also spent time in South America, moving to Argentina at the age of 15 through the Rotary International Youth Exchange.

A few years later, the current U.C. Davis student found out about UYDEL, a nonprofit in Uganda which provides vocational skills training for disadvantaged youth along with counseling and access to extracurricular activities.

This summer, she spent two months in Uganda checking in with students, teaching English and arts classes and educating students on the importance of composting.

“Traveling and volunteering are two of my deepest passions, and I plan to spend the majority of my life doing just that,” Hambley notes.

Another Davis student and 2010 CHS grad, Rachel Wylie decided to go across the Atlantic Ocean taking her first trip to South Africa in the summer of 2011 where she volunteered and traveled for a month. The current Davis student helped run a camp every morning, and spent her afternoon’s improving the local school or going to the local settlement to play with children and build a school.

“The settlement was essentially a cluster of shacks with mangy dogs, tired adults sitting in front of their homes and children playing on a rusty wire contraption and in an old bathtub,” Wylie says.

Six months after returning from the trip, Wylie traveled back to South Africa and now is tentatively planning a trip to either Cambodia or Peru.

Through giving back, these past CHS students gained a greater appreciation for the education they received at CHS which allowed them to pursue their volunteer dreams.

“CHS is a great school that fosters thinking outside the box,” Wylie says. “I definitely think that if I had gone to a different school, my mind would not have been open to such an experience.”

– Helaine Ridilla