New ASAH Intern – Mari Aaker

ASAH has a new intern, Mari Aaker! We are excited to have her and want you to get to know her too. We asked her questions and put her on the spot for todays blog post. Help us welcome her to our organization!

What are you contributing to the ASAH organization during your time there? 

My first introduction into helping at ASAH was volunteering at the Underwear and Underwrite event. I had just gotten back from Mexico and was thrown into the mix of things very quickly. Currently I am helping with organizing and inputting our student’s grades and working on the year end campaign. I am excited to work on giving hearts day and to implement what I learned on Give to the Max Day last month. I am learning software and practices that will help me move forward in the nonprofit world, so that I can help others while also being there for the ASAH Girls.


Explain how your cultural background ties in with ASAH? 

I went to Oak Grove High School, where my mother is a teacher, and was actively involved in student leadership where I became familiar with the nonprofit ideology. What attracted me to African Soul American Heart was the plight of South Sudanese orphan girls, this is due to the new addition in our family which is traditionally of Norwegian heritage. In October of 2016, Sarah, a fellow Oak Grove student, and her son came to live with our family. Sarah is from South Sudan and she and her son Man have been the perfect addition to our family. She has exposed us to another culture and has opened our eyes to another part of world.


 What did you know about the war in South Sudan before you came to ASAH? 

My understanding of the conflict in South Sudan initially came from Sarah. Her stories and perspective were important in providing a frame work of what the ASAH girls have witnessed and experienced.


What did you learn about Sudan and South Sudan’s history at ASAH? 

The ASAH program has broadened my historical and cultural knowledge of South Sudan as a new republic and the background issues of Sudan. The specific instances that our girls live through has become a poignant driving cause to help and understand them and how important they are to the future of their country. Education is key to peace and understanding and to empowering these girls and the nation.


What will you take from your experience with ASAH and how will you apply it to your future? 

The opportunity to intern at ASAH will enable me to pursue a career in nonprofits and helping others. Learning the software and keeping up to date on it is crucial in everyday work of a nonprofit that allows funds and supplies to better benefit those in need. I perceive a long future in nonprofit work and a strong relationship with ASAH, and learning the ins and outs of nonprofit on a small scale will help me in any upcoming organizations.


What are your passions?

I am very passionate about traveling and learning more about different cultures, languages and perspectives. After traveling to Guatemala for my first service trip in 2015 I felt a strong calling to do something more and to find a pathway to gaining sustainability within our world through education. After my first trip to Guatemala I have traveled back to Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico and I hope in the future I can expand my love of travel to other parts of our world.


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