May 2010 Belmont graduate Abby Selden returned to campus recently to offer a presentation on her experiences in Ghana. Selden is the first recipient of a Lumos Student Travel Award, which is a grant given annually to help students embark on a travel experience that will give them a different cultural perspective of some aspect of the social sciences: visual, performing and/or linguistic arts; or to enhance an artistic, scientific or teaching skill or talent.
Selden said, “Living, volunteering and traveling in Ghana was a truly eye-opening and rewarding experience. I learned so much, and I am so grateful to the Lumos Foundation for giving me this opportunity.”
Belmont Board of Trust member Cynthia Leu, who also serves as president of the Lumos Foundation, funds the award, which was first established last year. She said, “I am thrilled that Abby Selden was the first recipient of the award. Her deep curiosity, thoughtfulness, open minded approach, organizational skills, ability to adapt to challenging and unfamiliar situations, and desire to learn about another culture firsthand through experience allowed her to make the most of her time in Ghana. I have no doubt that Abby’s three months in Ghana challenged her in a profound way, and changed her perspective significantly. I am thrilled Lumos was able to make her adventure possible.”
While in Ghana as part of the Projects Abroad program, Selden volunteered with other young adults from around the globe and served at both a local orphanage and a school in the rural countryside. In addition to the lack of electricity or running water, Selden said she learned to quickly adjust to all kinds of challenging circumstances. “Transportation was terrifying for the most part, but you get used to it… Taxis would cram in as many people as possible.”
The Mission of the Lumos Travel Award is to allow young adults to learn about the world in a practical and challenging way, by enabling students to become involved in a local community for an extended period of time. As Lumos Travelers engage with new places, new people and new ideas, they will take important steps to discover their skills and abilities as they gravitate to those things which will give meaning to their lives.
Leu added, “It is my hope that the Lumos Travel Award mission of ‘travel with a purpose’ will become a defining experience in the lives of those students who are award recipients. What they see, do and learn while on their ‘working adventure’ will cause them to return home with a different perspective on the world, and will inform their future choices as they become active citizens in their own communities.”
Click here to learn more about the Lumos program and here to view Abby Selden’s Ghana blog.