Rachel Frank is a high school student from Lafayette, CA who has been working with Asante Africa Foundation as a special projects intern for the past year. Rachel’s creative contributions and dedication make her the focus in this month’s Spotlight on Youth series. Be sure to check out her design work on our Meet the 2012 Scholars page in March!
How did you become involved with the Asante Africa Foundation?
My dad works in Kenya as a large carnivore conservationist, so I’ve been to Africa a few times. On my latest trip, in 2009, I had the opportunity to visit a local village. I took pictures of the kids and tried to show them the photos, but they didn’t understand. Later, my dad explained to me that most of them didn’t know what they looked like. I was struck not only by their poverty but also by their lack of education. A few months later when my mom started bugging me about getting a job, I found a posting for an internship with Asante Africa Foundation. I emailed Erna, we met for coffee, and I’ve been on the team ever since.
What do you think you have learned most from your experience with Asante Africa?
I’ve not only been able to hone my skills as a graphic designer, but I’ve started to learn how to work with other people in a business-like environment. As a high school student, being part of an organization was new to me. I’ve loved the team aspect of what we do and appreciate the responsibility granted to me.
How do you think your experience at Asante Africa contributes to your future goals?
The graphic design work that I’ve done has really gotten me in touch with my creative side. I’m now looking into studying Art History in college and perhaps pursuing a career that involves design.
What’s been most rewarding about working with Asante Africa?
I think the lessons I’ve learned about being on a team have been the most rewarding part of my experience.
How can young people get more involved in creating awareness towards global causes/issues?
I think that reaching out to younger kids is one of the most important things that we can do as an organization. The better educated and more aware that the younger generation is, the more proactive they will be in the future. Whether participating in an elementary school walk-a-thon or going on a summer trip to Africa, the more people are aware of the cause, the better.
Would you recommend volunteering/working with Asante Africa Foundation to other students?
Yes! I’ve actually gotten one of my classmates involved with Asante, so now we do the design work together.
You mentioned that you’ve traveled to East Africa before, what was your impression/experience?
The first few times I visited my dad in Kenya, when I was in elementary school, I fell in love with the savanna—the elephants, the giraffes, the lions. However, when I returned years later, my focus shifted. I met children who could not recognize themselves in the photos I took of them. They lived in clay huts and their only clothes were cast-offs bearing sports team or name brand logos they could not read. I was saddened, not only by their poverty, but also by their lack of education. At their age, I was immersed in books about American pioneers and historic princesses but the kids I met were illiterate, and likely to remain so.