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Showing Leadership Through Service – Lu Sam

Ms. Lu Sam, a 2013-2014 Fellow placed at Vanderbilt University, was recently the recipient of the annual Humphrey Community Service Award. Ms. Sam has pursued several volunteer assignments during her long-term English placement at Virginia Tech and at her Humphrey campus at Vanderbilt, dedicating much of her spare time to the service of others. Whether sorting packages of school supplies and frozen foods, serving young children with developmental disabilities, or leading students through service-learning projects, Sam has demonstrated the spirit of a servant leader.

Ms. Sam volunteered at Susan Gray School, Nashville’s Kachin-Myanmar Refugee Community, Jere Baxter Middle School, LP Pencilbox, Second Harvest, Virginia Daycare and during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service. At Susan Gray School, Sam worked with students who have physical and mental challenges and has been a tremendous help for the teachers, helping to provide care to these students. Sam describes what she enjoyed about working at Susan Grey School, What I liked the most about my volunteer activities was working with teachers and kids at the daycare centers. I have been working with Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers’ teachers for more than 10 years in Myanmar, so I loved learning the US’s preschool’s curriculum and daily activities.”

Sam has also brought much needed bookkeeping organization to the Kachin-Myanmar Refugee Community, a service that will impact this community for years to come. Sam has led students through service learning projects at Jere Baxter Middle School, giving students there an opportunity to think about the impact they can have on their community. Because of Sam’s and other volunteers’ contributions to sorting school supplies at LP Pencilbox and Second Harvest, many local teachers were able to purchase much needed classroom materials at reduced prices.

When asked what she learned from her volunteer activities, Sam said,

I learned that US’s volunteerism is helping the needy through providing food and stationary to students and active participation nationally on Martin Luther King Day’s activities. I also learned how to tell stories and how to develop daily activities for preschoolers by working with peer teachers, school management, policies, and administration. It strengthened my knowledge on working with preschool teachers and children, and understanding American culture and their enthusiasm in volunteering at different activities.”

Through these volunteer opportunities, Sam has demonstrated strong initiative and she regularly leads by example. This leadership has translated into the classroom and affected her Humphrey colleagues. Sam’s university coordinator, Nancy Dickson described Sam, “She does not wait for someone to ask her to help, but rather is highly attuned to the needs of others and takes the initiative to help.” Sam encourages other Humphrey Fellows to volunteer, saying I would recommend all fellows to volunteer at different activities according to their interest areas. There are many organizations working with volunteers in the US so that we can choose the organization to get involved during extra time and on weekends.”

The Community Service Award was announced at Vanderbilt’s Humphrey graduation ceremony and includes a $500 award.