Global Volunteers Alumna Lilly Cook says her passion for teaching and serving others united in Tanzania in 2019 on a University of Northern Colorado student group. This year she and her husband, Collin, welcomed a baby girl into their family, and named her Addiah, meaning “Gift from God” in Swahili. Read on to learn how Lilly’s inspiration from her Tanzanian friends was given life through her daughter’s birth.
By Lilly Cook
My Passion for Teaching Led Me to Tanzania
Teaching has been a burning passion of mine. Waking up every day to go to work in a school is what lights the candle in my heart. Being able to be a part of these amazing, wonderful children’s lives, and to make even a small impact in the end, overwhelms me with joy. Not only working as an educator enthuses me, but being able to go to a university where I can gain the knowledge and experience I need to be the best educator that I can possibly be. The abundance of learning that I take in everyday excites me. I plan to drive my passion, excitement, and love into my teaching so that all students can know that they can do and be whatever they dream to be.
Education is a necessity and should be available to any person, anywhere in the world. My priority as an educator is to provide that resource. No one should be denied an education, for whatever reason there may be. I dream to travel to other countries, in the hopes of giving people, and children, the education that they deserve, even if it’s just a taste. For only a few weeks of education can bring a lifetime of opportunities, and I hope I can be a force in that effort.
My dream came true as a volunteer in Tanzania, Africa, in July 2019. During my time there I had the honor to volunteer as a teacher in a small village called, Mkalanga. I provided education and resources to children in order to limit, and hopefully prevent, stunting. In case anyone is unfamiliar, stunting is the excessive lack of nutrition, education, psychosocial stimulation, along with prolonged infection and illness. All together resulting in severely delayed growth and development in children. This has become such a prevalent and detrimental problem to where 1 in 4, or about 150 million, children globally, under the age of 5, are suffering from stunting. These numbers break my heart, so I have made it my mission in life to make even the smallest difference to eliminate stunting.
My desire to become an educator propelled me towards that dream. Volunteering in Tanzania not only made a huge impact in my journey to becoming an educator, but also in my heart. My heart overflows with love for the incredible children there.
I cannot begin to express my overwhelming excitement to be a part of the lives of the incredible people in Mkalanga. Thank you for taking the time to read about my passions and desires of becoming a teacher, along with this incredible opportunity that I have been so honored and anxious to be a part of!
Gaining New Perspectives Through Service
I am always looking for new perspectives to help create understanding and love for those around me and create morals and values for myself.
I primarily served as an educator and my experience taught me the value of a good heart, kind spirit, community, and finding the simple joys in life. And how these are worth more than any material and that any person is rich when they have a good heart and kind spirit.
“In everything give thanks.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I am thankful for this. This incredible, soul-altering experience that I was so grateful to endeavor. To be able to travel to Tanzania and be a part of the beautiful children’s lives for even the shortest time. Their hold on my heart has only tightened from the days since I left. Not a day has gone by where I haven’t loved them nor thought of them. They’ve changed me as a person, as an educator, and a future mother someday. For that, I am truly thankful.
Addiah, Gift from God
After leaving Tanzania, a piece of my heart stayed there. I’m a kindergarten teacher. My job as an educator and the children I get to impact are an absolute passion of mine. I solely believe that the desire to learn is innate in all children. You don’t need walls, expensive materials, or to even speak the same language in order for children to receive the education that they truly deserve. Serving with Global Volunteers in Tanzania proved this foundation of my teaching. I fell in love with the country, the people, the children. Seeing the joy in these sweet kindergarten hearts as we marched our ABCs across a field and wrote numbers 1-10 in the dirt, filled my soul. They inspire and fuel my profession. I think of them in every teachable moment. Knowing the love that I have for them and the place in my heart they will always fill, I wanted to shine light on that. After having my sweet baby girl this past July, I knew just what to name her. Addiah. This name is a Swahili name meaning “gift from God”. For not only is my wonderful daughter a gift from God, but so is Tanzania.
Congratulations to the new parents! Welcome to the world, Addiah!
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