I found the entry below from the Middlesex Community College Blog a fascinating story of a remarkable young man from Tewksbury.
Below I reposted the entry in it entirety…
What follows is the story of Mark Tibbetts of Tewksbury, a 2010 Liberal Studies graduate of Middlesex who is now a student at Salem State University with a major in history and a minor in secondary education and communications. At MCC, we’re always proud to tout the careers and accomplishments of our alumni. Tibbetts, 21, is volunteering in Kenya, and this is his story, in his words:
This summer, I am doing volunteer work in Mombasa, Kenya, through an organization called Global Vision International (GVI) for six weeks. The name of the project that I am currently working for is called “Assisting with care, education, counseling, arts and sports for disadvantaged children and orphans from Mombasa.” The name of the project is what got my attention.
I am currently teaching at a school called Precious Vision Care Centre. The ages of these children in the school range from 2 years old to 14 years old. Within the school they have 200-250 students that are registered. The age range in my class is from 6-11 years old. I teach English, Mathematics, Science, Art, Sports, and one-on-one reading. My work day starts at 8:15 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m. Volunteers and staff members live in a gated community in Nyali, Kenya, which is a suburb of Mobasa and the school is a 20 minute walk from the GVI base.
The volunteers create lesson plans, activities, and also do adult lessons. The adult lessons are optional to attend, but the goal for these lessons is to teach them the English language and to use the functions of the computer. Other activities that we do for the kids are swimming at local pools, computers, and field trips to Haller Park or the Butterfly Farm. This project also allows the volunteers to gain insight on the surrounding communities in which these kids live. They live in a poor area called the Shauri Yako Village, which is where Precious Vision Care Centre is located.
Volunteers not only teach the students, but at times we also play the role of school nurse. The kids play on a rough terrain, which is covered in coral rock and dirt. The school runs out of first aid supplies very fast because the kids get injured frequently. The volunteers are also counselors for the kids. Every now and then, the kids will write a note about their situation and ask for help. This happens rarely, but I can tell when something is wrong because they show signs for help. Another task that the volunteers have to do is house chores. We all take turns with cooking, cleaning the house and the apartment, and washing our cloths by hand.
The reason why I wanted to do volunteer work is because I felt the need to do something meaningful with my life. From the ages of 12 to 19, I had to face many obstacles. There were many family problems and my family was poor. During my first year at MCC in 2008 – 2009, I worked part time and went to school full time. I did not get involved with the school that year because I was still trying to figure out who I was. Mentally, I was not ready to get involved. As the fall semester of 2009 approached, I was living on my own, working full time, and I was taking five classes. I also got involved with the MCC theater department.
The 2010 spring semester at MCC, I was still working 40 plus hours a week, taking five courses, and I was also had a role in the spring musical, “Damn Yankees.” This was also no easy semester. I overworked myself and I felt like I was an old man. After 10 months of not stopping, I was starting to feel the pain. My body hurt and I was starting to feel it mentally. I still had the energy to go up to the Vice President and Provost, Phil Sisson, and asked if I could talk with him to see how he got to where he was today. This was one of the smartest decisions of my life. It eventually led to an internship for the fall semester of 2010, even though I would be attending Salem State University. Over the summer, I was still waiting tables and I came to the realization that I needed to do something better with my life.
During the school year of 2010 – 2011 at Salem State University, things were looking better. I had the internship through the Vice President and Provost at MCC and I got into the four year school that I have been dreaming of going to since high school, but something was still missing. I had everything that I wished for, but deep down, I was not happy. I felt like I wasn’t achieving anything. I worked so hard at my job, and I was not recognized for my hard work. I wanted to start to help others, so I looked into volunteer work in Africa. I came across Global Vision International through Google.com. Then, I did my research and found the project to volunteer with kids. I chose the project in Mombasa, Kenya because it was in my price range and it touched my heart, so not having the money at the time, I took the risk and accepted the position.
Throughout the rest of the year, I worked, went to school full time and got involved with both Middlesex Community College and Salem State University. This trip to Mombasa, Kenya, has changed my life. Just being able to teach these kids in the poor village means the world. The kids mean a lot to me and they have changed me. I am also providing them with an education to improve their lives and the kids notice that. They come in happy every day, even though they face problems at home. I feel like I can relate to these kids well because when I was at Middlesex Community College, I was happy. I loved being there every day because my new friends and the professors made my day.
The value of hard work and the basic necessities in life have also changed for me. As I walk in the village and see the poverty and the conditions in which the Kenyan people live in everyday, it makes me value everything that I have back home in the United States. The people in the Shauri Yako village wake up at dawn and they don’t stop working until nightfall. They have showed me how hard life can really be. Even though I was facing my own problems, they were not nearly as bad as the people here. I have spoken to the people here and they all want a better life. They don’t want to have to struggle everyday to make just enough money to feed their families. The only way out of poverty is to have an education and sometimes that might not be good enough. Education is such an important part to life. Being educated opens doors that can change a life or many lives. I wish I could do more to help the kids, but hopefully, I will be able to come back to Mombasa, Kenya someday and help this society grow because that is what Mombasa has done for me.
Thanks for taking MCC to the global stage, Mark, you’ve done us all proud! (And thanks for sporting the MCC tee-shirts worldwide!)