Christelle Reynaud normally has her hands full with school work while she’s studying at NC State University this semester at the SKEMA Business School’s US campus. She never imagined those same hands would also be filled with young children.
“When I entered into the room, a little girl just jumped on me. She did not know me at all, but she just wanted to be in my arms,” Reynaud recounted. “I grabbed her and she fall asleep in my arms. It was such an emotional moment for me.”
Reynaud spends her Wednesday afternoons at the Child Development Center (CDC) of a local nonprofit, the Raleigh Rescue Mission. She goes with two other NC State students: Leigh-Kathryn Bonner and Katie Latta. The CDC provides a safe and comforting environment for children living at the Raleigh Rescue Mission, a shelter and community center for homeless individuals and families. Reynaud and her friends spend the afternoon playing with children who are between the ages of 2 and 4. She’s discovered that being French helps her connect with the children, noting how they laugh at the “funny way” she pronounces certain words.
“One of the girls told me that she loved my accent,” she recalled.
Reynaud’s experience is just one of the many volunteer, cultural, and academic events made available to students taking part in the Global Training Initiative’s International Cultural Leadership Project (ICLP). There are more than 400 domestic and international students from NC State University and SKEMA Business School who are participating in the program this semester. Most of the events are organized by the GTI, but participants are also encouraged to find activities and events that interest them. The students make a big difference in the Triangle, having already logged 63 hours of community service in one month.
“This type of student-led engagement in the Triangle is exactly what makes the ICLP so innovative and exciting,” said Kristine Sloan, the ICLP Program Specialist. “We’re really glad to see the students creating new experiences for themselves and giving back to the community in such a positive way.”
These experiences have also had a major impact on the participants themselves.
“I felt so blessed to meet these children,” Reynaud said. “We say that everyone is equal at birth, but it is not true. These children live in precarious situations, but they do not complain about that. This center gives them the possibility to have a regular childhood and keep them safe. Seeing them playing, smiling, and running really made my day. I know I did not do a lot for them, but I feel like I helped them, at least, on a small scale.”
Check out the scenes from other volunteer events held in January and February 2013: