My name is Shauna Taylor and I am (fingers crossed) almost done completing my first year of graduate school at the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) at the University of Chicago. I am originally from Decatur, Georgia and moved to Chicago in September of 2013 to attend school. A proud alum of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!), I double majored in Social Work and Psychology. During my junior year of undergrad, I attended the Camp Russia Study Abroad Program, which allowed me to be a camp counselor at Camp Lesnaya Skazka (Camp Fairy Tale in English) in Mari El, Russia for a month. That experience was one of the most memorable of my life so far and had a profound impact on my life and future career plans. After returning home from my trip, I began to develop a desire to pursue International Social Work, which is one of the main reasons I chose to attend SSA at the University of Chicago.
When I first learned about the opportunity to apply for a Davis Projects for Peace grant, I immediately thought about returning to Mari El. Not only had I kept in contact with my friends and campers, but I always felt in my gut that I would return to camp for some bigger purpose. Fast forward to now, about three weeks before I leave the United States to return to Lesnaya Skazka, and I could not be more excited to embark on this new adventure. My project is titled “We All Smile in the Same Language” and I will be teaching a diversity class that utilizes games, skits, crafts, and group exercises to teach campers to value and appreciate the diversity in themselves and in others. Mari El has recently experienced racial tension in the area and my hope is to help spark an awareness of these issues in the campers who take my class, to the point where they are inspired to create positive change, personally and in the larger Mari El community.
I have set a pretty high and lofty goal for this summer project, but I am optimistic about the experiences I will have this summer. The individuals, both young and old, I met during my last trip to Mari El were truly amazing people and I feel honored to be able to, in some small way, make a difference.
Вот к лето, полное приключений!