I have the most amazing friends. They are far wiser and adventurous than me and I wanted to share some of their favorite things to do and see when they’re abroad. A LOT of my friends have executed insanely cool projects as well. Must-read section of the whole blog. 

Teach Twice//Grace Stearns 

This summer I had the privilege of studying at University of Cape Town as part of a Vanderbilt service learning program with SHAWCO. During one of our lectures, I looked over to my left and saw a fellow Vandy student scribbling. One thing struck me and I still remember it and smile. She had written down her life philosophy. I loved it so much I had to post it:

“Live simply, serve earnestly, love freely”– Grace Stearns, Vanderbilt University 2013

Grace is the Director of Communications for Teach Twice, a non-profit organization created by Vanderbilt students.  Teach Twice is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the quality of education of children across the world with a very unique process and consequence. Teach Twice educates children through stories and a process  of cultural exchange. The books are written by local individuals in a country and then globally distributed so that a child thousands of miles away can learn about the particular culture and place. The profits from the books are used to financially support students as well as children from the country where the book was originally written. In that way, Teach Twice targets two completely different communities and improves the quality and scope of education of children from completely different backgrounds. An incredible project that crosses borders, improves cultural literacy and enhances global education, one book at a time.

Follow their blog at Teach Twice Blog

Fifteen Fragments//Mara Truslow 

Mara is a fellow Ingram Scholar at Vanderbilt University (’13).  She is also a Coca-Cola Scholar, a Rotary Scholar and  is on the board of the Nestle Very Best in Youth Foundation. She is timid, she is reserved but she is always, always present. She is one of the most silently and humbly ambitious, talented and kind-hearted I people I know. She does what she does out of love, kindness and pure intention. I have not personally met a more selfless person than Mara. Mara does three-hundred things, stays sane, never blows up and doesn’t complain in the process. She is an inspiration to us all. By the age of twenty Mara had already published her very own novel and launched a website for it, while managing school, work and countless civic engagement projects. I admire her greatly.

Fifteen Fragments is a teenage fiction novel that stresses the importance of service in life. Mara stresses how we are all interconnected and how relationships transform us. The following fifteen fragments alone serve as prompts for powerful self-reflection of our relationship with ourself, the people in our life, our environment and the rest of the world.

“Choose the More Difficult Road

Move Together and Work Together (Always)

Meet Everyone you can in the World with an Open Heart

The Ripple Effect will Always Continue

You Won’t Be Forgotten if You Find a Way to be Remembered

There will (Always) be someone better than you, but don’t forget the people who need help too.

Everyone in the world is connected.

Power of Pragmatism

Don’t forget who you have lost.

Sleep when you are dead.

First impressions are first impressions, sometimes you do get a second chance.

There are no limits to love.

Your eyes can lie, living without judging is paramount.

Find the best way to help the most people.

Little acts of kindness trump everything.”

-As seen on The Actual Fifteen Fragments Page

Buy her book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And yes, it does ship internationally! 😉

Make sure to visit her website Fifteen Fragments as well and donate if you can to support the printing of books, and service projects that are featured in her novel.


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