International Human Rights Day
It seems like everyone has a full schedule this time of year. And while adding one more day to remember on your calendar probably isn’t at the top of your list of things to do, December 10 might be the most important day of December. That’s because it’s International Human Rights Day, a day for recognizing human rights issues around the world, a day when we all might think about what we can do to help those whose basic rights are not honored.
This month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Beth Lund, who works in Ashford’s Office of Student Access and Wellness as the Technology Accessibility Specialist. I knew that she spent time volunteering abroad, but I had no idea of her great efforts to improve the lives of others.
While she earned her MBA in Organizational Leadership only a few years ago, for quite some time Beth has been a leader when it comes to helping others. So what enables Beth to live a life so full of helping others? It’s simple: “Volunteer work was something that was instilled in me as a child.” Beth was born in Ecuador, and she learned first hand the need for people to assist each other. “From an early age I’ve been aware of life outside of the United States and what it looks when people live in poverty.”
In her current role at Ashford University, Beth continues to help others and do what she does best on a daily basis. “I work with the different departments to make sure that our course content is accessible so students with disabilities can have equal access to their courses.” In this capacity, Beth acts as an advocate and a resource for Ashford students.
A Dream Come True
After her family relocated to California, Beth would seek out volunteer opportunities abroad, “In high school, we would go down to Mexicali and work with kids.” Her service didn’t stop there. Beth has done an international volunteer trip every year for the past six years, serving everywhere from Paraguay, to Nicaragua, to Mexico. One of her favorite trips was when she went to build a playground in Paraguay with her father, “It was really an amazing thing to be able to go and work on a trip as an adult with my father.”
While she has logged more than her fair share of hours volunteering south of the border, when I asked about her most recent trip, her eyes lit up, “The trip that I did this year in Mexico was building a house from scratch.” The organization in Mexico that Beth volunteered with this year has a volunteer who was homeless. Despite the fact the he did not have a place to live, the man worked tirelessly to help those who were less fortunate. The organization recognized his selflessness and decided that it was time to help one of their own. “So we built him a house!” Beth smiles as she tells the story. They spent a week building the house before handing the home over to their fellow servant, “At the end of the week, just to be able to see him and his daughter and to give them the keys…He said, ‘I can’t believe I have my own home. This is a dream come true.’”
Be a STAR
Every person has the right to have their voice heard. And equally as important, everyone has the potential to impact the lives of others. Donate your time volunteering, lend an ear to someone who needs emotional support, and sometimes, it is as simple as a smile.
When asked for some guidance around finding volunteer opportunities, Beth recommends looking into Ashford’s STAR program. “The benefit of Ashford’s STAR platform is that it helps coordinate what you’re interested in with local volunteer opportunities.”
Remember, no matter where we are, we can all use International Human Rights Day as a reminder to devote ourselves to ensuring that others have access to their basic rights. For more information on International Human Rights Day, check out the United Nations website.
Written by Samuel Harvey
Sam is a Content Specialist in the Office of Student Access & Wellness at Ashford University.