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Recent Badin graduate focused on service

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Friday, June 5, 2009

By Carmen M. Hubbard

HAMILTON DEANERY — Heeding God’s message involves more than just listening to His word. It also requires serving others with faith and enthusiasm, and that is just how Emily Davis approaches her outreach efforts.

The 18-year-old, who graduated from Stephen T. Badin High School on May 28, has participated in numerous volunteer activities both locally and overseas. In March she spent a week in China teaching conversational English to nursing students through Global Volunteers International Service Programs, a non-profit organization that provides short-term volunteer opportunities throughout the world. Its mission is to create a foundation for world peace through mutual understanding among people from various countries. 

Emily Davis, a recent graduate of Badin High School, poses with two Chinese students during a trip in March. (Courtesy photo)

She traveled to Xi-an City, China, with her great-aunt, Nancy Graesar, who is actively involved with Global Volunteers, and her 20-year-old sister, Ashley, a 2007 Badin graduate.

“It was absolutely amazing,’’ Davis said of their trip. “The people in China treat you like royalty. They are so appreciative that you are there. All they wanted to do was please you. It was very hard to leave.”

While there, Davis taught English to the college students during three hour classes. Although it was challenging, she said the students asked her about her family and friends and what it’s like to live in America.

“Even though the kids in China have to learn English from grade school on, their English wasn’t very good at all,’’ she said. “We were there to (speak freely) and answer questions to help them hear how we sound when we speak.”

Davis and her family members spent an additional week touring the country. One of the highlights for her was exploring the Great Wall of China outside Beijing and seeing some of the other imposing sites of the Chinese capital. Being away from home, Davis realize the little things, such as clean air and no traffic jams, that sometimes get taken for granted.

“The pollution was horrible. You’d never see blue skies and sunshine; it was always cloudy. And the traffic is insane. There are no traffic rules at all. There are just so many people there,” she said.

But being an American in China, according to Davis, was quite an experience.

“They were thrilled to see you. Everywhere we’d go, they would stare. They’d want to take their picture with you. If you’d walk up and talk to their children, they were just so happy,” Davis said. “We were in a nice hotel in Xi-an City, but what you saw all around you made you thankful for what you have at home. The people there have no toilets and no running water, nothing like that.”

The trip to China was yet another opportunity for Davis to focus on service to others. “It’s such a good feeling to be able to make a difference in someone’s life,’’ said Davis, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Fairfield, where she also attended grade school. “That’s definitely something I’ve learned through my Catholic education.”

As a student at Badin, Davis was involved in the Teen Advocacy Group, Habitat for Humanity, the 30-Hour Famine, a blood drive and Locks of Love. Other service projects included visiting elderly residents at a retirement community center, making blankets for patients at the Ronald McDonald House and participating the Relay for Life, hosted by the American Cancer Society.

“Badin has provided me with so many opportunities to help other people,” she said. “All of those things have been extremely important in my life.”

In August Davis will be traveling to Peru to volunteer at an orphanage. The purpose of the trip will be to meet “at risk” children and encourage them with hope. The group will also help with construction at the orphanage.

“I’m excited about it. I’m sure it will be another amazing experience,” Davis said.

She plans to attend Miami University Hamilton in the fall and will major in special education. Davis said she will continue to volunteer while attending college and thereafter. She believes volunteerism is away of life and essential in order to grow closer to God.

“I’ve learned through the Gospel to serve others,” she said. “Serving others is to serve God.”

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