Ashley Crider's Personal Crusade
Lake Clear, N.Y., woman to return to teaching in Haiti
CAZENOVIA, NY (05/10/2012)(readMedia)-- Disasters change people, not only those who suffer, but those who give their time and effort to facilitate recovery. Ashley Crider, of Lake Clear, N.Y., first saw the face of disaster when she traveled for the first time to Mississippi to assist with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. In addition to braving gangs and packs of homeless and hungry dogs, she confronted the pain of people who had lost loved ones, homes and possessions. The experience changed her life.
Crider is on target to receive a Cazenovia College degree in international studies, specializing in humanitarian services, on May 12. As a member of the College's Human Rights Club and the Alternative Breaks Club (ABC), she completed many humanitarian aid projects. A trip to Ghana, she says, "was my first time experiencing widespread extreme poverty."
In a 2011 summer internship, Crider taught conversational English to both children and adults in Haiti, and says it gave a new spark to her passion for her future career in international humanitarian aid. She notes that the major issues in Haiti are lack of health care and education, and deficient agriculture. "I was devastated to see their way of life," she says, "but it's what they are accustomed to. The Haitian people are so great – their situations are extremely hard and yet they are constantly working to survive. For me it is a very humbling experience."
Perhaps the most important thing Crider learned in Haiti is what one person can achieve. She says, "My hardest-working student's dream is to become a nurse." Because medical assistance is very limited in Haiti, Crider believes helping young people is desperately important, so much so that she raised money to help the student achieve her goal.
Now raising money for herself, Ashley has plans to return to her teaching job in Haiti this summer and needs to fund her travel expenses. "I have bonded with the people I taught at the Kara Hood Center, and I want to continue the work I started there," she says. "I've been told they keep asking when I'm coming back – they are so eager for opportunities to improve their English language skills – and I'm eager to teach again."
Seeing people living in poverty, in Ghana, Haiti, and in the Dominican Republic during her spring break in March, has given Crider a great appreciation for her life in America. "Being surrounded by individuals who are so poor and yet so thankful for everything in their lives made me think about how lucky I am," she says. "Being able to help individuals who are so desperate, and yet so proud and grateful, changes you as a person."
Photo: Ashley Crider on the Cazenovia College campus in May, 2012. She hopes to be back in Haiti this coming summer. Photo by Tasha Johnson.
Cazenovia College, founded in 1824, is an independent, co-educational, baccalaureate college near Syracuse, N.Y., offering a comprehensive liberal arts education in an exceptional community environment, with academic and co-curricular programs devoted to developing leaders in their professional fields. Cazenovia, named one of "America's Best Colleges" by U.S. News & World Report, is also a national College of Distinction. For more information, visit www.cazenovia.edu.
# # #