A 20-year-old honor student at California State University, Long Beach has been selected by the Amy Biehl Foundation to serve as an intern in South Africa for the summer of 2001.
Sarina Steinbarth, a junior majoring in international studies and economics, will spend next summer in Cape Town, South Africa, as a volunteer for the organization, which is focused on the development of non-violent, functional people, working most extensively with youths.
The Amy Biehl Foundation is named after the 1989 Stanford graduate and Fulbright Scholar who was murdered just outside of Cape Town in 1993 at the age of 26. She was killed while working to help South African blacks and women vote in the country's first all-race elections.
Founded by her family in 1994, the foundation works to prevent youth-perpetrated violence in South Africa and the United States by providing program opportunities in education, sports and recreation, arts, employable skills and safety.
"I wanted to help others, and I really like kids," said Steinbarth, a CSULB President's Scholar with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. "South Africa to me is a country with a lot of deep issues, especially where its young people are concerned. I think the foundation's idea of getting at the root of the problem with the children by offering activities that keep them focused and out of trouble is a good one."
This won't be Steinbarth's first trip to South Africa. In fact, it's not even her second. She first visited the country as a toddler with her parents, who were working with a Semester at Sea
program in the early 1980s. Then last spring, Steinbarth participated in her own Semester at Sea program through the University of Pittsburgh, visiting 10 countries including South Africa.
During that five-day stop in South Africa, Steinbarth met Peter and Linda Biehl, Amy's parents, who greeted the ship and spoke about Amy and her love for the area. It was at this meeting she also learned about the Biehl Foundation and its efforts on behalf of the country's young people.
"My purpose for going on Semester at Sea was self-discovery," Steinbarth noted. "But, you're not really able to absorb any one culture in a program like that in four or five days. It was more of a buffet line to figure out where I wanted to return and what kind of things I wanted to do.
"There was something about South Africa that definitely stood out to me. The other countries weren't even close," she continued. "South Africa was definitely the country I wanted to return to, and there was the Amy Biehl Foundation--an American-based, non-profit organization working with kids to curb violence--that needed interns. It was meant to be."
The service factor is the biggest draw for Steinbarth, and like her trip to South Africa, next summer's volunteer experience won't be her first.
In the summer of 1997, Steinbarth was the youngest of 29 U.S. representatives who traveled to Croatia to participate in Global Peace Camp through a group called the Global Children's Organization, an American non-government group. There, on a tiny island off the coast of Croatia, she and the others worked with some 150 refugee children from Sarajevo, Tusla and Vukovar.
"It was positively a life-changing experience," Steinbarth recalled. "I was 17 at the time, and I went from this classic high school jock, class president, good student--this very involved high school teenager to really seeing a bigger world out there."
Since then, Steinbarth said she really hasn't had the opportunity to get involved with a
service-abroad program. So, although she doesn't know exactly what she will be doing, she is definitely looking forward to working in South Africa this summer helping the children in that area through the Amy Biehl Foundation.
"I think my wanting to go back to South Africa and do this internship has to do with the self-discovery issue again," Steinbarth said. "I'm 20 years old, and I've declared my major, but that is about all I know in my life right now. Everything else is up in air. I think I would like to work at the United Nations. I think I want to be involved in helping others on a large scale, particularly in the international arena.
"I just want to help people and, at the same time, get some direction for myself. I'm hoping to clarify or crystallize my career goals," she concluded. "I'd really like to see if this is the kind of work I would like to do with my life."
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