Name: Rachel Gaufberg
School: Clark University
Major: Psychology, Pre-Med
Class year: 2017
Expeditions: May 2015, January 2016
Current position: I hold the position of Clark University chapter leader. My responsibilities include recruiting students to become YSI advocates and leading weekly chapter meetings.
One of my favorite memories with YSI occurred on my second expedition to Haiti. On this expedition I met Oscar, a 14-year old resident of Pont Morel, who has an incredible passion for music. On one occasion, Oscar invited myself and several other advocates to his room, which contained little more than a bed and a keyboard in the corner. For about an hour, we all sat together and sang at the top of our lungs, with Oscar accompanying on the piano. It was an extremely powerful moment, and served as a testament to the unifying and universal power of music - although we can't speak the same language, I feel a special connection to Oscar because of those moments we shared in the presence of music.
I chose to become involved with YSI because of its unique mission statement. I’ve been involved with service organizations in the past, but no other organization that I have been a part of conducts their efforts with such a level of cultural sensitivity and commitment to the empowerment of the locals. YSI critically analyzes what the implications, both positive and negative, of its work may be, and constantly adjusts its efforts to either promote these positive implications or eliminate the negative. This constant critical thinking of how to best conduct international aid work is, in my opinion, essential, and is unfortunately left out from many other organizations that may possess the same goals as YSI.
The biggest take away from the experiences that I’ve had with YSI are the people that I have met, both advocates and the Haitians we work with. Being surrounded by my fellow advocates, who largely share the same passion for aid work as I do, creates an extremely rich environment that stimulates deep conversation and dialogue about critical issues such as health care, access to education, etc. My interactions with the locals and other Haitians constantly provide me with new perspectives on life and the world, and I can only hope that I’ve offered them as much in terms of love and kindness as they have to me.