STAR of the Month September: Elles van Geest

My name is Elles and I was honored to be this year’s fundraiser of iCare.
It has been an amazing year in which I have learned a lot. This year was also my first year at the Erasmus University and I hoped to learn more next to my study and was ready to make a lot of new friends. STAR gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and learn from other people.
In the beginning I felt like the ‘new one without experience’ in my committee. Instead of being afraid, I took this opportunity to learn from others and to prove myself wrong. ‘Little sister’ became ‘Queen Ellie’.

Our committee had to organize a charity trip abroad. First we made many scenarios for different countries and in the end we had to choose between India and Nepal. We convinced the board and even ourselves that we had to go to India. In the last meeting before the final decision, we had to vote for our destination. Suddenly every committee member voted for Nepal (without discussing it before the voting). Even now, I don’t know why that happened, but I think it happened for a reason because we had an amazing journey!
As a fundraiser you have to find alternatives to raise money next to cold calling, which is the main responsibility of the commercial. This year iCare organized a lottery which raised more than I expected. Besides, we organized ‘Bora goes bald’. The active members gave a donation at Van Leeuwen and Bora shaved his hair off. It was a night with a lot of fun and it actually raised a lot.

After the recruitment we had a group of 20 students who were ready to go to Nepal. Before the trip we had two dinners with the participants and after getting to know the participants even better, we could only confirm that we selected a group with amazing individuals. We didn’t know exactly what we could expect from Nepal, which made it hard to fully inform the participants about the trip. However, they were flexible and trusted us for which I am still very thankful.

iCare 2016 was a trip that I can’t even describe in a few words. We slept in host families, who considered you part of their family. The Nepali people are very welcoming and always willing to help. The nature in Nepal was wonderful and we enjoyed every second of it. We did a construction project in which we had to dig holes for the toilets next to the community house. Furthermore, we did some teaching in English and maths at the local school and we also bought 4 water filters for the village.

It is admirable that the people in Nepal are so happy without being rich. We could learn a lot from them. This trip broaden my view and made me realize that I want to more than only three weeks of volunteering. Because of STAR I know that you could do so much more than you ever think. I never thought that I was able to organize this trip and make a difference in Nepal.
I could really recommend STAR to everyone, especially iCare of course.
I have had an amazing year in STAR and I want to thank my lovely committee for this experience. I made friends for life and I am thankful for every office hour with them. I also want to thank Jeroen Bravenboer for his support this year. He really encouraged me to develop myself and supported me where needed. In the future I want to do the full time committee ERD and I am really looking forward to take on a new adventure.
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