In case life as a college senior isn’t busy enough with finishing classes, completing internships and preparing for graduation, social work major Kaitlyn Zook takes a busy schedule one step further and also works as a project manager leading Project Ubuntu for the humanitarian nonprofit 2 Seconds or Less.
Zook first heard of the organization during a semester in Philadelphia. After longing to get involved with an organization she felt really met the claims they were making, Zook was eager to see how she could help.
Combining her passion for education and her social work background, Zook worked to develop a concept the 2 Seconds or Less team was interested in pursuing and came up with Project Ubuntu. 2 Seconds or Less works in northern Zimbabwe helping impoverished communities learn how to plant, harvest and prepare food as a sustainable solution to help break the cycle of poverty. Many times, the children of these communities learn the skills.
To add another component to their work with children, the group wanted to start a program that would connect children in the United States to the children in Zimbabwe. From there, Project Ubuntu, an education and pen-pal program, was born.
Each month, Zook and a volunteer from 2 Seconds or Less visit three schools in south central Pennsylvania and teach the children about sustainability, volunteerism, culture, Zimbabwe, and collaboration and teamwork. In turn, the students write letters to the students in Zimbabwe. Students in the U.S. also hold fundraisers to help their fellow classmates in Africa, and along the way, cross-continental friendships are born.
Zook says she’s had to adjust to a steep learning curve met with any new experience, but says her social work classes at Messiah helped give her a solid foundation in the skills she needs to manage a successful project.
“Right now I am really hands-on with the project and find myself using many of the social work skills I’ve learned to run the program,” says Zook. “I have a passion for education, and I’m excited to help children understand empathy and develop a cultural awareness. 2 Seconds or Less is a small organization that is making a big impact on the communities they work with. I am excited to be a part of that.”
-Erin Bray ’10
*Photo courtesy of 2 Seconds or Less
Posted on February 17th, 2014