“Don’t be afraid to care. Some people live life thinking that you should put forth the least amount of effort as possible, but I like to live life with purpose. ”
Name: Emily Sorrells
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
Education: South River High School
Passions and Interests: Volleyball and Model UN
Transformational Experience: GLA Costa Rica: The Initiative for Children™
Making an Impact: Sharing her GLA experience and the importance of volunteering abroad on popular online publication The Tig
After watching a TED Talk in school one day, about a family in Malawi that had to put mud on the walls of their house to maintain its structure, Emily Sorrells was convinced she had to do something to help.
I went home, and I can’t explain it, but I wanted to help build them a house so badly. “
This was what Emily considers her “aha moment,” the place and time where she finally realized she could do something to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
So Emily went on GLA’s flagship Costa Rica: The Initiative for Children™ this past summer as a way to volunteer abroad, and turn her desire for impact into reality. One of her legacy projects there was building a driveway up a giant hill that led to the local elementary school. Witnessing that project through to completion is something she considers one of her proudest moments.
We were building a driveway at the school. It was the first time I mixed cement in my life. It was so hard, and I loved it. I faced so many fears. I felt super strong.”
After returning from her program, Emily also had the unique opportunity to share her story with a wider audience, and she took it.
Since she was about twelve years old, Emily has been a big fan of the show Suits. One of the characters on the show, Rachel Zane, is – as Emily puts it, an “ambitious and hardworking character.”
Rachel is played by actor Meghan Markle. Meghan is also the founder of the lifestyle website The Tig.
I became a huge supporter of [Meghan Markle] individually, and I have been able to really see her grow as an actress and humanitarian. She started recognizing my usernames over the years and has been interacting with me on social media for my whole high school career. She is also really involved in service projects of her own.”
Meghan’s commitment to action in the world inspired her to take the leap to volunteer abroad herself.
Seeing her genuine happiness and enthusiasm when she works on her passion projects taught me by example that there is such beauty in openly caring about something. She has taught me countless lessons over the years, through those projects and from the insights on her blog. I truly believe I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take my GLA trip if it weren’t for what I learned from her, plus a few other important people in my life.”
But it wasn’t just going to Costa Rica to volunteer that made an impression. It was having the voice to share it with others too.
I tweeted a letter that I had written to her, thanking her for all she does and telling her about what she inspired me to do. When she saw it, she loved it! I actually met her a few weeks later and she talked about how proud she was that she was able to inspire me, and that I actually took action on that.”
So when Emily returned from Costa Rica with GLA, Meghan asked her if she’d be willing to share the details of her experience. And that’s how her story on the Tig came to be.
Emily wasn’t looking for fame or an easy fix out of all of this. In fact, she told us she is glad that she had to work hard to make her GLA experience happen, to fundraise for her efforts make the world a better place. As Meghan said to her about her commitment to the cause, “You didn’t just do nothing about it. You took action.”
And that makes all the difference, as far as Emily sees it:
I can see how much I’ve blossomed in the last year, especially after this experience.”
We’re excited to have Emily back making change in the world with us this summer on our Dominican Republic: Global Health Initiative™ program!
Program Emily attended:
GLA Costa Rica: The Initiative for Children™
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