Writing blog posts for the Quest blog is one of the main reasons why I love being an Ambassador. I am able to write about my family, places I have visited, fun things to do on campus, reviews about different restaurants, and organizations I have been part of. I realize that sometimes (very often) my posts do not have much to do with Quest; however, I feel like the readers get to know me better and also my friends, my family, and my country. Today, I wanted to write about an organization which has been able to bring happiness not only to my life but also thousands of children in Kosovo, Uganda, and Northern Ireland. Because of this organization I have been able to travel to North America, and even attend Quest. And because of this organization I have been able to make new friends from all over the world, whom have become like a second family to me. Because of Shropshire Music Foundation, I have become a better friend, student, and musician.
The Shropshire Music Foundation (SMF) provides free musical instruments and instructions to former child soldiers and refugees in some of the world’s most wartorn places: Uganda, Kosovo, and Northern Ireland. Since 1999, SMF has taught more than 10,000 young people that through music they can bring healing, hope, and peace to their communities. According to its website, SMF’s mission is to advance emotional health, develop scholastic achievement, promote peace, and foster ethnic tolerance. The organization was created by Liz Shropshire 15 years ago. However, today SMF has an all-volunteer staff, and in many communities the program is run by young adults whom have been greatly influenced by Liz.
About five years ago, my brother and I joined Shropshire Music Foundation. At the beginning we were taught by amazing volunteers how to read music, how to play different games, and how to play pennywhistle and harmonica. In addition to that, because of learning songs in English, watching movies with other kids, and speaking to Liz, my English improved in a whole new level. Only a year later, I became a volunteer – meaning that now I could teach other kids the things I was taught a year before. The feeling you get from seeing others smile because of you is indescribable.
Only a few years ago, with SMF volunteers and youth choir members (Muscatine, Iowa), we travelled to Samothraki Island in Greece for a ten day joint training retreat. We lived together, worked together, and explored a placed that was new for all of us. Even though our job is volunteer based, we have done a few trips (mostly around Kosovo), and have always had a lot of fun. I get to know the volunteers better, share my experiences, and also visit new places.
Since attending Quest University Canada now, I am not as active as I used to be in this organization. However, I still stay updated by following its Facebook page, reading Liz’s posts, talking to my friends about it, and also giving presentations about the difference SMF has made in my life. I cannot wait to go back home and become a full time volunteer again. Joining SMF is one of the best decisions of my life.